Well not exactly. At 3118 ft,Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England and there is no easy way to the top, but our route today is easier than some of the others involving only 2600 ft of ascent.
Our plan was to park the car in Grasmere and catch the bus up to Thirlspot. We could then climb Helvellyn and continue over Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike before returning to Grasmere.
We made an early 7.00am start from Liverpool and watched the sun rise as we sped along the M6. Some early morning mist created some lovely lighting effects. When we reached the Lake District it got even better, especially the section alongside Rydal Water. The surface of the lake was like a mirror with with a sheath of mist hanging above it. The peaks of the Langdale were poking out above the mist – pure magic. The only problem was that along this stretch of road there is absolutely nowhere that you can pull in to stop and take photos.
We arrived in Grasmere in plenty of time to catch the 9.28 Stagecoach bus to Thirlspot. It cost an extortionate £4.95 but fortunately I had my bus pass. One of the few advantages of being old!.
By the time we arrived at Thirlspot the mist had evaporated but there was not a cloud in the sky. It promised to be an excellent days walking. Our plan was to ascend Helvellyn by the old ‘White Stones’ route. This is an old route much favoured by the Victorians when the ladies would climb up in their long dresses. Since the construction of the car park at Swirls the route is hardly used and is no longer marked on some maps. Today, we could not even find the start of the route as it was hidden amongst waist high bracken. We did not fancy risking a twisted ankle so we along the lower path towards The Swirls until we crossed Helvellyn Gill where we could then begin the climb up the reinforced path. The ‘White Stones’ route angles across the fell side but this was straight up, one long 2ooo ft slog.
We needed plenty of pauses to catch our breath but this gave us a chance to admire the view which got better and better as we gained height.
Panorama looking back over Thirlmere
The hardest section was skirting Browncove Crags but soon we were on the slopes of Helvellyn Lower Man. The view to the east opened up as we approached the skyline and we could look over Swirral Edge towards Ullswater.
The summit was crowded with people taking advantage of a rare day of sunshine but we managed to find a seat in the shelter to eat our lunch before posing for photos.
We spent some time looking at the two memorials on the summit. The first, near the shelter is a small stone tablet which commemorates the landing of an aeroplane on the summit in 1926. The second, the Gough Memorial overlooking Striding Edge was erected in 1890 in memoriam of a fatal accident in 1809. Charles Gough from Kendal was out walking with his dog on Striding Edge when he fell and was killed. His remains were found three months later with his dog faithfully standing guard. We were content just to admire the view looking down on the edge
I have managed to stitch together a couple of images to create a panoramic view from the summit, showing both Swirral and Striding Edge with Red Tarn nestling between them.
It was now time to start our descent with a couple of miles of easy walking over Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike. We veered away from the main path to keep close to the edge to enjoy the views to the east.
The going got tougher as we descended Dollywaggon Pike towards Grisedale Hause.
The final section was down the valley alongside Tongue Gill before the stroll into Grasmere for a well earned pot of tea.
We went to Miller Howe which was excellent. There was a good range of cakes, and pies all served on nice plates. My pot of tea gave me two cups. We awarded it a maximum score of 5 cupcakes.
A fantastic day out.