17th December 2005

Ski lifts, goats and an icy wind on a Helvellyn walk.


Walk Overview
Time 08.30 to 13.30
Duration 5 hr
Distance 8.3 mile
Ascent 3507 ft
Walking with On my own
Swirls - Browncove Crags - Helvellyn - Helvellyn Lower Man - White Side - Raise - Ski Hut - Sticks Pass - Footpath between Stanah and Swirls Car park
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Swirls, Thirlmere

Swirls and Helvellyn fit perfectly into the same sentence. The chances are that 9 out of every 10 people who walk from here are heading up Browncove Crags onto Helvellyn summit.

The car park is in effect split into two by the A591. One has splendid views over Thirlmere and pays host to an ice cream van, whilst on the opposite side of the road you have the toilet block and the beginning of the path to Helvellyn.

Unfortunately the water company who own the land have installed a 'pay and display' machine in the car park above Thirlmere, so, the only free option here is to park in the long lay-by a little further down the road. Late comers will find it full !!


Route Map

An early start gave me this view of the Moon from Swirls Car Park.

The footbridge over Helvellyn Gill.

Looking back down the path towards Browncove Crags.
A frosty night followed by a windy day can only mean icy cold conditions on the high fells and this was certainly the case today. From this spot to the sheepfold on Sticks Pass it was full winter gear.

Catstye Cam and Raise from Helvellyn.

Too many fells to name in this view looking in a South Westerly direction from Helvellyn.

White Side, Raise and the Dodds taken from Helvellyn Lower Man. The darker fell in the far distance is Blencathra.

Raise from White Side.

The ridge was deserted while I was walking along it today. I know I set off early, but for such a perfect day I expected to see more then the three I saw people all day.

From Raise looking over Sheffield Pike to Ullswater.

From the summit on Raise I left the path and headed down to have a look around the ski tow and the ski huts that are found on the side is the fell between Raise and Sticks Pass. This is the uppermost section of the ski tow.

The bigger of the two huts . This one has been built a couple of minutes walk from the bottom of the ski tow. The other smaller hut is right at the bottom of the ski tow.
The Plaque above the door says the "Millennium Hut" was built in 1999 by members of the Lake District Ski Club. The plaque on the smaller hut states that it was built "in the glorious summer of 1989".
This is another one of those places close to a route I've been on so many times, but this was the first occasion that I'd actually taken the time to leave the main path and have a look around. Well worth the half hour or so it added onto the walk.

The top section of the Stanah side of Sticks Pass.

The remains of this fine sheepfold provide a lovely foreground for this view over High Rigg towards the Skiddaw Fells, Bassenthwaite Lake and the fells in the Lord's Seat area.

A similar view. This time taken from inside the sheepfold.
As I was loosing height it was getting steadily warmer. This is where I took off all the extra layers I'd needed on the ridge.

Castle Rock, High Rigg and Lonscale Fell.

Zooming in on one of the half dozen or so Goats I spotted as I was walking down the bottom section of Sticks Pass.

A little further on from the Goats I couldn't help but notice these trees that look as though they're growing straight out of the rocks above Stanah Gill.

The Skiddaw Fells, High Rigg and Blencathra from the path between Stanah and Swirls.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks