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Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:52 pm
by poppiesrara
A testing circuit of the spectacular ridges and mountains around Grisedale.

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From the beautiful lower valley, even midweek there are many heading up the stoned path to Helvellyn via Hole-in-the-Wall; far fewer taking the lovely route via Birkhouse Moor, zigzagging up through the bracken to a gently-graded sweeping path. Not much of a summit itself, but a good place to view the tempting way on to Helvellyn above the sharp edges cradling Red Tarn.
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Birks from lower Grisedale

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Birkhouse Moor

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St Sunday Crag & Grisedale

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Birkhouse Moor summit

Striding Edge has a fierce reputation, but the way up to the ridge, a delightful climb over easy rock steps, would trouble no-one, and there are enough veterans shuffling comfortably along the crest to suggest that most of us should have many more years of being able to manage it. Generally the top of the ridge (in good weather) is just broad and flat enough to traverse happily for the well-balanced; short spells on the bypass paths to the side, quite eroded in places and very exposed to long drops below, were much hairier. The final steep step down off the ridge, hardly obvious and with even the easiest-looking way needing a couple of long blind strides down, is probably the hardest part – several here seemed to be looking around for the easier way they felt they must have missed… It’s a very steep 100m+ climb from there to the summit plateau, but thousands of feet have trodden a clear and decent enough walking way up. Quite a contrast to emerge onto the wide, flat summit plateau amid the crowds, but some satisfaction in having got there the hard way!
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Helvellyn over Red Tarn

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Dollywaggon & Nethermost Pikes

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Helvellyn from High Spying How

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The tricky step down from Striding Edge, a walker looking at the descent gully

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Striding Edge

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Catstye Cam from Helvellyn

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White Side and the Northern Fells over Swirral Edge

The ridge south to Dollywaggon Pike, gentle slopes over firm putting-green turf with little detours to the clifftop summits, must be about the easiest walking on such high ground imaginable, even if the apparently-possible climbs from the east look absolutely terrifying…
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Ullscarf over Thirlmere from the summit ridge

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Striding Edge

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Helvellyn & Catstye Cam from near Nethermost Pike

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Dollywaggon Pike

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St Sunday Crag over Grisedale dropping to Place Fell

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Nethermost Pike

Much harder going from there on the direct route to Seat Sandal - a very steep slope down, demanding slow tiptoe steps to hold one’s balance, a boggy col and then a hard-enough slog back up the lumpy little hill. This lonely spot, if hardly the finest of peaks, seems a world away from the masses on Helvellyn an hour or so before.
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Grasmere from Seat Sandal summit

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St Sunday Crag from Seat Sandal

Another steep descent to the brooding waters of Grisedale Tarn, and then another skirt of some marshy terrain, gets you back onto another excellent path – welcome towards the end of the day – slanting gently up to Deepdale Hause. From there it’s an easy trek up and over St Sunday Crag, much friendlier than the daunting western face it shows to much of this route. Trudge over Birks’ wet grass from there to the much more impressive mini-mountain of Arnison Crag, fabulous views of the southern tip of Ullswater and a quick descent home to finish a great circuit.
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Grisedale Tarn

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Seat Sandal

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Ullswater from north of St Sunday Crag

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Arnison Crag

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Ullswater from Arnison Crag

Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:24 am
by craighall
Thanks for posting.

I'm heading down to Ullswater next weekend, though my walking schedule might be more modest !


Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:14 am
by yellowbelly
Good route this with super photos.
Not sure you got the exact summit of Birkhouse Moor though which is Grid Reference NY 36344 15974. See photo on

Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:00 pm
by poppiesrara
Cheers. That had me kicking myself for a moment!, but I think I got it right... The link looks like the cairn overlooking Ullswater, which to Wainwright "appears to be the natural summit, but the prominent wall actually passes over higher ground marked by a second cairn". I hope so anyway!

Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 4:40 pm
by craighall
Great report & photos !

I was in the Ullswater area at the weekend, though had to settle for the more modest Grisedale & Hayeswater reservoir, so will have to settle for great reports like this & ' the Julia Bradbury programmes ' ( in no particular order ).


Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:00 pm
by Ibex
Great report and photo's.
I have planned this exact walk for my first walk back in the Lakes. Though I plan to end it on Catstye Cam, rather than Birkhouse moor.

Must have been warm up there. I'm sweating just sitting down at home. Stupid heat!

Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:09 pm
by L-Hiking
Nice report of a beaytiful area...Not sure if you are ever alone on those fells....

Re: Helvellyn via Striding Edge & St Sunday Crag

PostPosted: Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:55 pm
by ChrisW
Just stunning P, what a great round that must have been, the photos are fantastic and I know they rarely do justice to the real thing....fantastic hike :clap: