Duncan C. White,
Unix Systems Programmer,
Computing Support Group,
Department of Computing,
Imperial College London.
Hi there! On Thursday 8th August 2007, with friends Serena, Alistair and William, I walked up Helvellyn (in the Lake District) and swam in Grisedale Tarn!
- We were in the Lake District (well, over to the northeast of the Lakes themselves, on the outskirts of Wigton near Carlisle) for a week in August 2007, on a lovely old farm (and given the foot and mouth outbreak down south, the farmers were understandably paranoid and had antiseptic footbaths all around the farm).
- After talking about going up Helvellyn quite a lot during the first part of the week, we finally decided that we could all make it given an early start and giving ourselves the whole day to do it. It was my fifth ascent of Helvellyn, their first. The weather was glorious, by far the best day of the week.
- We went up one of the easiest (but least popular) routes - starting at the Keswick end of Thirlmere (Kings Head Hotel, Thirlspot), following the footpath up through Brown Crag onto the common leading to White Side, with excellent views of the Dodds over to the left, then joining one of the popular Glenridding paths at White Side and heading up the (relatively) easy ridge to the Lower Man and thence along the main upland plateau to the Helvellyn cirque.
- During the whole 1.5 hours we spent getting from Thirlspot to the top of White Side, we only met one other party of walkers (two ladies with their two spaniels). By contrast, in the same period of time we saw about 50 people away on the various ridges - Brown Cove Crags, the White Side ridge itself, Swirral Edge and Striding Edge. That shows how neglected the White Side common route is!
- Here's a few pictures from the top (click on an image for the fullsize version):
- The traditional shot of everyone (but me!) by the OS trig point, with Swirral Edge and Catstye Cam on the left, Ullswater behind, Striding Edge on the right and the Pennines in the distance:
- We had lunch at the back of the cirque, sitting on a wonderful grassy ledge. Here's the view left and right, you can see how busy the summit was:
- Here's two nice views of Red Tarn from the summit, with Glenridding Common and the start of Striding Edge, and Alistair for scale:
- Looking down on Striding Edge from the end of the main cirque:
- After our lunch stop on the summit, we walked along the whole length of the upper plateau, past Nethermost Pike, High Crag and Dollywagon Pike, with absolutely superb views all around, St Sunday Crag, Fairfield, Ullswater, Windermere, Coniston Water, the Pennines to the Northeast, the Solway Firth and the hills of Dumfries to the Northwest, and Morecambe Bay to the South. Guess I should have taken more pictures:-)
- We then descended the steep scree paths to Grisedale Tarn. The weather was so warm we decided to have a swim in the Tarn. We found a lovely little cove with gently shelving gravel and tiptoed slowly into the cold water! I have to say that Alistair and William spent ages whining about how cold it was, finally got in and had a swim around, and later on voted the swim the best bit of the holiday! Teenagers, hey?
- After the obligatory diversion to look at the Wordsworth Brothers Parting Stone, we headed up the last (cruel! cruel!) section of uphill to Grisedale Hause, the pass above the Tarn. Here's a pic of Alistair and Serena on the way up to the Hause - note the original use of a walking pole as a washing line:-)
- Finally, we headed (rather slowly and tiredly by now!) down past Great Tongue towards Grasmere (the Patterdale-Grasmere path), and back to the car which we'd foresightedly parked just where the Patterdale footpath comes onto the main road.
- But wait, you may cry, how come we started from Thirlspot when our car was parked near Grasmere? Answer: we cheated! We took the excellent 555 bus right from the car up past Thirlmere before starting the walk! Indeed, the bus came round the bend just as we were getting out of the car, we waved in a panic-stricken fashion, and the nice bus driver stopped right there for us!
Updated: 14th August 2007