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Classic Mountain Fun!!
Helvellyn Mountain (Lake District)
Member Name: andyoz
Helvellyn Mountain (Lake District)
Advantages: Great Variety, Stunning Scenery
Living in the Northwest and being a keen walker/climber the Lake District has always been my favourite playground. And my favourite climbing frame in Lakeland has always been this mountain. Helvellyn.
Helvellyn stands at 950 meters or 3117 feet above sea level. It is the third highest mountain in England. Situated in the Eastern Fells Helvellyn stands out from its neighbours with its jagged edges and dominating dome summit. This really is the Lake Districts signature peak and has given climbers and walkers hours of fun for many many years.
There are many different routes up Helvellyn, routers that suite every standard of walker. There are ridges and cliffs that can keep more hardcore climbers happy, and during winter months there are some really challenging climbs given the right winter conditions.
The most popular and well-known route up Helvellyn is Striding Edge. This is seen as one of the classic walks in the Lake District and is a real challenge for even seasoned walkers. The route starts in the scenic village of Patterdale. You follow the path up onto the ridge and then start the assent to the summit. The ridge itself is the most impressive in England. The drops are shear and the top of the ridge narrow. There is an easier route along the ridge, of to the right there is a small path that run just below the ridge and is far less exposed.
When you reach the end of the ridge there is a tricky little step down, and then its a quick climb upto the summit. The top of Helvellyn is quite a contrast to the sharp ridge you have just come up. The summit is a large flat dome shape. A few years back someone actually landed a small plane on the summit! The views from the top are wonderful; on a clear day you can see most of the Lake District fells and surrounding areas.
The best way back down is probably Swirral Edge. A great ridge that is often over shadowed by its close neighbour. This is still a tricky descent and concentration is needed as the rocks are often slippy and dangerous. As you come back of the ridge and down into the valley you can make you're way past Red Tarn with its dark brooding waters and back towards Patterdale where a nice cold beer await you.
The walk itself is about ten miles and will probably take you between six and eight hours. This is not really a walk for people who don't have a head for heights or don't have a good level of fitness. This is a challenge that should not be taken lightly. If there is snow on the summit this route is very dangerous, there have been several deaths on Striding Edge over the years, and unless you have crampons and an ice axe and the skills to use them, this route should be avoided in winter!
Patterdale is a great place for walkers, there are a few nice hotels and guest houses if your planning on making a weekend of it. Or if you just need to refuel after your walk there are some nice pubs, which welcome walkers and serve good quality food. There are also some quaint little shops in Patterdale that you can enjoy browsing round.
If you like the idea of climbing Helvellyn but are a little worried about your chances of getting up Striding Edge fear not. There are several other easier ways up the mountain. One I recently tried is from a car park next Thrilmere. This tackles the mountain from the other side and is far easier. There are no sharp ridges and there is an easy to follow path straight to the summit.
This route is about 4 or 5 miles and should not take you more than four hours. It is not as interesting or exciting as the edges but is safe and should be within the grasp of almost any walkers. I did this one last January when there was a serious snowfall. Was no real problem as there are no exposed sections and nothing to fall off!
Overall Helvellyn has to be one of the best mountains the UK has to offer. There is so much variation in routes and something for everyone. Surrounded by history and legends Helvellyn really is an imposing beast, but if does offer a softer more sensitive side. This is a mountain that anyone who loves the great outdoors, simply must give a try.
I love this mountain, have been up it four times, and everytime it offers something different. A true classic!
Summary: A Classic Lakeland Fell