|Patterdale - Helvellyn (12 km)|
Wast Water - Wander
Wast Water - Scafells
Patterdale - Helvellyn
Patterdale, Glenridding and Ullswater from the next day
Try to guess what the weather was like today. Yes, you're right - low gray skies just like the last 5 days. It was tempting to skip Helvellyn and have another spare day to use elsewhere on the Coast to Coast Walk. But I decided to have a go since I might not be in this part of the world again. There was also the vague hope that the weather would improve the next day. For a guide to the walking around Patterdale try Lakeland Fells - Patterdale and the East: 25 Great Fellwalks by Paul Hannon.
|Helvellyn||YH||0870 770 5986|
|Grisedale Lodge||B&B||017684 82084|
|Patterdale||YH||0870 770 5836|
|Ullswater View||B&B||01768 482175|
I took the Coast to Coast Walk back through Glemara Park and onto the farm road. A steep little climb up the road and through a field leads to the path up Striding Edge. Luckily the path does not take the direct, steep route to the ridge top but instead rises steadily along the side of the ridge. In about a kilometre, the path finally ascends to the top of the ridge and meets a high stone wall. Over the wall, a grand panorama awaits you (even with the clouds low on the slopes of Helvellyn). Ahead there is a huge green amphitheatre leading up to Helvellyn with two wings formed by Striding Edge on the left and Swirral Edge on the right. In this amphitheatre is Red Tarn - hidden by mist on this day. Behind you, Striding Edge's narrow ridge points the way back down to the winding waters of Ullswater.
The path continues up the ridge which starts off comfortably broad and smooth. However it is not long before the ridge narrows and sharp rock outcrops erupt out of the ridge top. The path stays generally just below the rocky section on the east slopes of the ridge. For a more exciting walk, you can choose to hop along the ridge's crest. You know that the final climb to Helvellyn is close when the steepening slopes force the path onto the rocky crest for an exciting scramble. All too soon, the ridge comes to an abrupt end against the side of Helvellyn where a path zigzags up loose slopes to the summit.
Don't expect to be alone on Helvellyn's summit in summer even in dull weather - I shared the nonexistent views with 10-15 other people. There was still a great feeling of satisfaction in achieving the summit.
The return journey can be back via Striding Edge, however there are a couple of better alternatives. The first is to turn west and stroll along the range to Dollywaggon Pike. A steep path then drops down into Grisedale Hause to join the Coast to Coast Walk. The second is the route is the one I took.
A little bit east of the summit, a path drops down to the Swirral Edge ridge. This ridge is of similar quality as Striding Edge but not as sharp. At the end of the ridge, the path zigzags steeply down into the valley before Helvellyn and then drops a bit alongside a stream. The stream is easily crossed and the further side of the valley climbed to the stone wall on Striding Edge. Rather than drop down into Grisedale, take a clear path along the top of the now broad ridge. The stone wall keeps its distance from you to the right until the path makes a sharp jog towards it, abandoning the ridge line. The path takes an eroded course towards the wall before circling back to the ridge top under the cause of the diversion - steep rocky slopes. The ridge is left for a gully that drops unerringly into the next valley from Grisedale and the village of Glenridding. Pause at the top of the gully for a nice view down Ullswater. There is a good pub in the village, just right for a bit of rapid re-hydration therapy (a quick pint or 2).
Patterdale is an easy stroll away, down to the lake and along the lakeside road (beware of tourist traffic).