11th December 2007

Snow and Ice from Helvellyn to Sticks Pass


Walk Overview
Time 09.00 to 13.50
Duration 4hr 50 min
Distance 7.6 mile
Ascent 3406 ft
Walking with On my own
Swirls - Browncove Crags - Helvellyn - Helvellyn Lower Man - White Side - Raise - Sticks Pass - Stanah (above) - Fisherplace Gill - Swirls
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

When I left home this morning I thought I was going to be disappointed with the weather, particularly after yesterdays almost perfect conditions when I couldn't get out. As I drove through Keswick it was actually raining, so I resigned myself to the thought of having another wet walk. As it turned out, I couldn't have been further from the truth if I'd tried.

The view over Thirlmere to High Seat.

Sunshine on High Rigg.
I'd gained a good deal of height by now and the view across to the Northern fells showed just how much cloud there was about this morning. I know the weather can change pretty quickly up on the fells, but I was surprised at just how fast the cloud vanished today.

Looking across to White Side from the low point between Browncove Crags and Helvellyn.

Browncove Crags. Notice how much of the cloud has disappeared. The Lake on the left hand side of the picture is Bassenthwaite Lake.

And looking in the opposite direction towards Helvellyn Lower Man.


As if the weather conditions weren't good enough on their own, I was also treated to a Broken Spectre while I was at the summit. Then after a ten minute sit down in the shelter the cloud had completely gone from here to leave a perfect day for fell walking.

A clearer view of the trig point, taken from the summit.

Catstye Cam, Ullswater and a band of cloud out towards the Pennines.

Frozen footprints leading back up to Helvellyn.

After leaving Helvellyn itself, I sort of retraced my route back a little way before heading up to Helvellyn Lower Man, seen here.

Another bonus for today's walk was little or no wind at all; except for this short section of path across the lowest section of fellside between Helvellyn Lower Man and White Side. To say the left hand side of my face and head were cold would be a bit of an understatement to say the least.

The previous picture and also this one may show the fells as being rather busy today, but apart from the two large groups of teenagers I passed along here, I almost had the fells to myself.

Raise seen from White Side.

And looking back to White Side and Helvellyn Lower Man from Raise.

Ullswater, taken as I left Raise to head down to Sticks Pass.
The fells in the picture are: Sheffield Pike, Hallin Fell , Gowbarrow Fell, Arthur's Pike, Bonscale Pike.

Cutting the corner to reach Sticks Pass with the Lord's Seat Fells on the left of the picture and the Skiddaw Fells on the right hand side of Bassenthwaite Lake.

Almost below the snow line now and looking down the higher section of Sticks Pass.

The guys who decided to build a sheepfold here undoubtedly chose this spot for practical reasons. This aside though, they certainly chose somewhere with a fine view.

Standing on tip toes and looking over the wall to gain a view of the tiny hamlet of Stanah and the busy A591. Again, the background for a picture taken along this section of the walk is provided by the Skiddaw fells.

The footbridge over Fisherplace Gill, with High Rigg behind / above the bridge.

A little further along this lovely path I crossed another footbridge, this picture shows a snow topped Blencathra in the background.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks