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Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:58 pm
by Derek T
Having just about coped with the descent of the scramble down the east side of An Stuc last weekend I decided to swallow some brave pills and try my hand at Striding Edge. having looked at the pictures and reports on WH I was quite apprehensive about doing this alone but decided that if I didn't try I would never know.

I started at Glenridding car park and headed for Lanty's Tarn. From there I started the long and what seemed like an unending ascent to Hole-in-the-Wall from Grisedale. It's not until you arrive at HitW that you see what lies ahead as it is the first clear sight of Striding Edge and the scramble to the summit. Another two bravery pills and off I went. I stopped for a rest and to take my first picture of the day at High Spying How.

01 - Striding Edge from the blunt end.jpg

I watched a couple of solo walkers negotiate the slabs coming towards me and told myself it didn't look too difficult and ploughed on along the edge. I took a couple of detours down to the safer path on the north side at the bits were I wasn't exactly sure where to go along the top but I tried to stay as high as I could and it wasn't as bad as I had expected. I then arrived at the chimney, which immediately reminded me of my time on An Stuc last weekend as I had come down a very similar thing there. I was therefore able to convince myself I am now an experienced chimneyist so down I went. I probably took longer than some getting down here but it was the bit I felt most exposed on the whole walk so I was happy to take my time. My attention now turned to the thing I had been ignoring: the scramble. The good news for anyone who hasn't been along this route is that the scramble looks and is much easier from the end of Striding Edge that it is from the beginning. There are a multitude of routes up and lots of footprints and crampon scars to follow.

02 - Looking back at Striding Edge.jpg

03 - Red Tarn from the Scramble.jpg

03a - The scramble to Helvellyn summit.jpg

I was at the Memorial on the summit ridge in just a few minutes and hadn't felt exposed or in any danger all the way up the scramble. It was a great feeling to have completed the ascent and I know it is something I would not have attemted just four or five months ago.

04 - Striding Edge from the Memorial.jpg

05 - Charles Gough Memorial.jpg

06 - Looking back at Striding Edge from the summit of Helvellyn.jpg

I was now able to enjoy being on the third highest mountain in England with fabulous views in all directions. The only thing that spoiled the experience was a group of teenagers gathered around the summit trig point having a competition to see who could throw a rock into Red Tarn. Is it just me being an old fart or is this just stupid? Given that there were six of them and one of me standing on top of a 500 foot cliff I decided that confronting them probably wasn't a good idea so I passed by and left them to it. I just hope there wasn't some poor sod trying to climb up the crags :?

My intention had been to descend by Swirral Edge and Catstye Cam but when I got to that end of the summit ridge I could see the long path around the Fells to the north that would give me a longer walk. I made the descision to switch routes very quickly. Whether or not it had something to do with this view I couldn't possibly comment...

07 - Looking down on Swirral Edge.jpg

The next part of my walk was enjoyable from the point of view of being up at a good height with some great views but the Fells I walked over are pretty uninspiring grassy mounds. The pictures probably tell the story better than I can.

08 - Raise summit cairn with the western Fells behind.jpg

09 - The western Fells from the summit of Raise.jpg

10 - A reflection of the rarely spotted Cannae-take-apicture-assaurus trying to photograph some tadpoles at Sticks Pass.jpg

11 - Name those Fells.jpg

11a - Looking west as the sun begins to fall.jpg

12 - Stybarrow Dodd summit cairn.jpg

The final Fell of the day was Sheffield Pike. This is a much more interesting lump of rock than those I had just crossed and was a perfect end to the day. The ascent from the quarry at Nick Head is straightforward on a good path. The descent south-east towards Glenridding is steep in parts and a mixture of good paths, sheep tracks and some bits where you just have to find your own way through the heather and rocks.

12 - Sheffield Pike and Ullswater from Glencoyne Head.jpg

13 - Catstycam with Helvellyn behind from west ridge of Sheffield Pike.jpg

14 - Me on Sheffield Pike with Helvellyn in the background.jpg

15 - Helvellyn from Sheffield Pike summit.jpg

16 - Ullswater from Sheffield Pike summit.jpg

All said and done this was a very enjoyable way to spend a Friday afternoon and evening. On the final descent I had a rather disturbing thought about poor Mr Gough, who's memorial stands on the summit of Helvellyn. The story goes that he slipped on ice and fell to his death from the top of the scramble in 1805. His skeleton was found three months later with his faithful dog standing guard over it. How does a dog survive three months in winter at 2,500ft? Was he standing guard over the corpse of his beloved master or was he guarding what remained of his dinner? :shock:


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Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:13 pm
by mountain coward
I personally think Swirral Edge is much, much harder than Striding Edge as it isn't flat like Striding but instead very steep - I find Striding much more comforting - the chimney is a bit daunting when you first get to it though isn't it!

Well done for going off and attempting it on your own though... Love the reflection-instead-of-tadpoles shot :lol:

Yep, those lads were bloody stupid and reckless throwing stones down a crag - like you say, there could at least be a climber coming up, if not some sheep on the crags. Also, someone could easily have been sat on the shore of Red Tarn and got killed... Very, very dangerous and extremely stupid - they should throw them down the crags :evil:

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:40 pm
by fedupofuserids
Excellent pics & weather, you certainly made good time.

The drop down to Swirral Edge does look a bit daunting but your alternative route was probably better, while you've got the height you may as well do them.

PS. You missed Glenridding Dodd, at least you've got an excuse to go again :wink:

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:19 pm
by Derek T
fedupofuserids wrote:PS. You missed Glenridding Dodd, at least you've got an excuse to go again :wink:
I know. I only realise that when I started tagging the Wainrights on my Walk Report

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:43 pm
by fedupofuserids
Its a bugger when that happens.

When everything big is shrouded in thick miserable mist, you may well be pleased that you did accidently miss it.

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:40 am
by mountain coward
You'll have to use Glenridding Dodd as the start to your walk to the (very boring) Hart Side as that's a Wainwright :D

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:12 pm
by farazgla
My girlfriend lives not too far from Striding Edge. Must head that way next time I'm around the Lakes.

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:15 pm
by mountain coward
Your girlfriend lives on a hill? :lol:

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:15 am
by fedupofuserids
mountain coward wrote:Your girlfriend lives on a hill? :lol:

I knew you where going to say that :D

Re: Helvellyn and 5 of her sisters

PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:40 pm
by mountain coward
I have very predictable humour I'm afraid :(