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Edging our way up Helvellyn

Edging our way up Helvellyn


Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:33 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Helvellyn, White Side

Hewitts included on this walk: Helvellyn, White Side

Date walked: 27/12/2016

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After our very enjoyable day walking to Angle Tarn and its Pikes (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=68809) we found that we could squeeze in one more walk during my traditional Christmas visit to family in Cumbria.

From Angletarn Pikes we had looked across to the other side of Patterdale to the familiar but challenging outlines of Striding Edge and Helvellyn, so that seemed the obvious choice for a second outing.


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After a very nice Boxing Day evening meal, we got up early on the 27th and headed off to Glenridding. Dawn clouds were in the sky as we walked up the road to the lead mine.

ImageIMG_2601 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The valley has many interesting remains of the old mines (and, signs of the devastating floods of December 2015). But all the same, it was nice to walk above the Youth Hostel and the mine buildings to a point where we could look at some unspoiled views, including Catstycam...

ImageIMG_2609 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

...and back down the valley.

ImageIMG_2610 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Helvellyn came into view...

ImageIMG_2613 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A little further on, we had a great view of Swirral Edge dropping down from the summit of Helvellyn.

ImageIMG_2618 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Soon we arrived at Red Tarn. Its shore was an obvious place for a morning coffee stop and some leisurely enjoyment of this wild sanctuary.

ImageIMG_2621 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Although it is a well-known spot among the hills, Red Tarn has its secrets: below the water are the wartime remains of Mosquito HK141 which crashed into Striding Edge and fell down into the lake, as this evocative image from Aircrashsites.co.uk shows.

5231382859_8c33a6d17a_o.jpg


My dad piloted Mosquitos for a short time in 1944, so one day I'll get round to walking along the lakeshore and find the crash site. But not today... enjoyable as our coffee break was, Striding Edge beckoned. From Red Tarn, it was a steep but short pull up onto the ridge skyline leading to Striding Edge, with good views back down to the tarn -

ImageIMG_2637 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

And an enticing view of the ridge crest ahead

ImageIMG_2654 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From the start of Striding Edge we could also look across to Catstycam, which appeared much less impressive from here than from the valley. It is a great shame for this hill that it is so closely attached to Helvellyn: if it were more separate, then it would be one of the finest fells in the Lakes.

ImageIMG_2645 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From the crest of Striding Edge we also had a great view down into the deep gulf of Grisedale, although the surrounding fells were all silhouetted in the strong sunlight.

ImageIMG_2665 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The rocks of Striding Edge were dry, grippy and free of ice apart from the odd little patch of verglas. We looked forward to an enjoyable scramble!

ImageIMG_2674 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Walkers on the ridge

ImageIMG_2655 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We went along the first section of the ridge. It was brilliant.

ImageIMG_2680 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2687 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

There was also a great view of St Sunday Crag. From left to right the rest of the skyline is High Raise, Rampsgill Head, possibly a glimpse of Harter Fell, High Street and Thornthwaite Crag, and then Red Screes and Dove Crag on the right.

ImageIMG_2668 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The Dixon Memorial...

ImageIMG_2695 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

...and the view from it.

ImageIMG_2698 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The memorial commemorates Robert Dixon of Patterdale, who fell here while following foxhounds. The hunting obsession may have been a family characteristic: another Dixon is said to have died in the same way on the eastern cliffs of High Street.

Looking back along the first section of the ridge.

ImageIMG_2708 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Onto the next section of the ridge, starting with a slightly tricky downclimb over some verglassed rocks.

ImageIMG_2709 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From this middle section there was a great view of Red Tarn.

ImageIMG_2716 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The view back along the middle section of the ridge.

ImageIMG_2717 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

There were a few other people about on Striding Edge, all of them clearly enjoying the superb conditions. At one point we saw a Border Collie who can just be made out on this photo, below the walker on the skyline: it did a "controlled fall" down the little chimney that descends this rocky tower.

ImageIMG_2723 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

More scenes on the ridge

ImageIMG_2726 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2755 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2764 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We met a couple of walkers descending, who kindly took a photo of both of us. Note the walker in red far below us, showing the steepness of the slope.

ImageIMG_2766 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Climbing the final steep edge up towards the summit ridge.

ImageIMG_2772 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The final view backwards before reaching Helvellyn's summit ridge.

ImageIMG_2774 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We climbed through patches of fresh powder snow to the crest of the summit ridge. Here is the memorial cairn to the artist Charles Gough and his dog Foxie (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Gough_(artist)).

ImageIMG_2775 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

In an early example of ghoulish tourism, Wordsworth guided both Walter Scott and Humphry Davy to this spot, so that they could see the site of Gough's death. In addition to the other literature about it, the story is hauntingly retold as a modern ghost story by Richard Adams, within the book The Plague Dogs. Coincidentally, when we returned home we heard news that Adams had died on Christmas Eve.

Enjoying the bright sunshine and the panorama of western Lakeland on one side and the Pennines on the other, we walked along the summit ridge to look at the memorial to the landing of an Avro Gosport on the summit of Helvellyn in 1926.

ImageIMG_2783 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

It reads "The first aeroplane to land on a mountain in Great Britain did so on this spot. On December 22nd 1926 John Leeming and Bert Hinkler in an AVRO 585 Gosport landed here and after a short stay flew back to Woodford."

A view of the landing site. In the distance on the right are the Coniston Fells and Grey Friar.

ImageIMG_2785 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The wind was much stronger on the summit ridge, so we decided to postpone our lunch stop until we reached a more sheltered place. We walked up to the cairn -

ImageIMG_2787 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

And then walked over to the trig -

ImageIMG_2797 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2804 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2806 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

ImageIMG_2811 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Helvellyn Lower Man from north of the trig.

ImageIMG_2812 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Walking from the trig to the top of Swirral Edge.

ImageIMG_2815 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We could see people gingerly descending Swirral Edge.

ImageIMG_2822 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

We opted to keep high instead so we could enjoy the views and the bracing conditions, so we went over to Lower Man. This is the view down past Browncove Crags to Thirlmere. The main distant fells are Eel Crags, Grasmoor and Grisedale Pike to the left of Bassenthwaite Lake, and Skiddaw to the right.

ImageIMG_2829 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Helvellyn from Lower Man.

ImageIMG_2831 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Looking from Lower Man across to the western fells including Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Red Pike, Scoat Fell and Pillar.

ImageIMG_2835 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Descending Lower Man, with the Dodds and Raise in the background.

ImageIMG_2842 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Still enjoying this high-level ridge, we went on to White Side, which gave us a fine view back toward Helvellyn and the Lower Man. The name "Helvellyn" is Old Cumbric, a variant of Welsh: "Hel Felyn" = "Yellow Moorland". From White Side, the golden glow of the afternoon gave a clue as to the "Yellow", although "Moorland" seems a bit of an understatement for England's third highest mountain.

ImageIMG_2861 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The slopes of White Side also provided a new perspective on Catstycam, now looking more impressive again.

ImageIMG_2846 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From the summit of White Side the old pony path descends in effortless zig-zags down into Keppel Cove.

ImageIMG_2877 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Below the ruined dam we finally reached a less windy spot, where we enjoyed an excellent lunch of warm broth in the shadow of Catstycam.

ImageIMG_2883 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A great end to an excellent day on one of England's finest hills! I have a great affection for Helvellyn: it is the highest peak that can be seen from my wife's family home in the Eden valley, and many, many years ago it was the first English 3000' peak that I climbed. More recently, after my knee replacement, I did Striding Edge as the first proper test of whether I could still climb hills. I've also visited the summit on a solo charity walk over "20 Peaks" from Kirkstone to Threlkeld, and on another memorable occasion me and my friend tried an ice-climb in one of the gullies above Red Tarn, only to be beaten back by melting, rotten snow and falling lumps of ice! We gave up on the gully and headed straight up the slope to emerge at the summit, much to the surprise of a large group of walkers.

A final add-on - I have just found a photo from that day

ImageIMG_46871 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

However, despite all those good memories, this Christmas-time day of beautiful views and the enjoyment of Striding Edge in perfect winter weather will remain my favourite outing on this grand mountain.
Last edited by HalfManHalfTitanium on Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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HalfManHalfTitanium
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Re: Edging our way up Helvellyn

Postby trailmasher » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:39 pm

Great report, pics, and route, one of the finest around these 'ere hills :clap: Some great shots of the ridge there HM with long views to boot 8) A great way to spend Boxing Day working off the calories of the night before's feast :lol:
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Re: Edging our way up Helvellyn

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:10 pm

trailmasher wrote:Great report, pics, and route, one of the finest around these 'ere hills :clap: Some great shots of the ridge there HM with long views to boot 8) A great way to spend Boxing Day working off the calories of the night before's feast :lol:


thanks trailmasher! yes it was a really good one! We were lucky with the weather!...

cheers

Tim
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HalfManHalfTitanium
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Re: Edging our way up Helvellyn

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:42 pm

That looked a cracking day HMHT, from the wonderful sunrise to the frozen edge and beyond, great shots of a perfect day :clap: :clap:
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