17th December 2011

A wintry walk over Helvellyn to Sticks Pass


Walk Overview
Time 09.15 to 14.00
Duration 4 hr 45 min
Distance 7.7 mile
Ascent 3200 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
Swirls - Browncove Crags - Helvellyn - Helvellyn Lower Man - White Side - Raise - Sticks Pass - Thirlspot - 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

We had a real taste of winter up on Helvellyn and some of it's neighbours today . It was fantastic to be out in these winter conditions again and hopefully this will be the first of many walks like this over the coming months.

Looking down to Thirlmere.

Looking up to Browncove Crags.

Well there goes the view, and unfortunately I seem to have got some spots of water on the camera lens which are on almost all the other pictures. Given the conditions we were walking in, checking the camera lens for spots was a long way down the list of things to think about.

A view back down the route.

Up the side of Browncove Crags we go.


Snow cornices on Browncove Crags.

Helvellyn trig point.

The summit and the shelter were deserted today. I guess these conditions aren't to everybodies liking.

Heading down from Helvellyn Lower Man.

White Side summit (shelter??). The wind was really whipping up the spindrift now and to say the least, the left side of my face was more than just a bit painful.

A strong cross wind had blown most of the snow off this section of the fell.

Please note that things were quite extreme up here today and that these are not normal walking conditions. Inexperienced walkers should not be tempted up here on days like this. Be under no misunderstanding, get it wrong in this and it could prove fatal.

A frozen Raise summit.

We didn't see many people today, but we were definitely out numbered by skiers. This picture was taken on the upper section of Sticks Pass.
As far as visibility goes, , , this was it. It isn't very often I've been on the fells and had zero visibility, but it happened a few times today. Along the sections where there was blanket snow blending in with the thick cloud we were literally walking blind.

Out of the clout now and almost down to the Sticks Pass sheepfold. The sky looks a little bit brighter in the distance.

and a close up. The lake is Bassenthwaite.

Thirlmere, seen behind fields that weren't as green as that this morning.
The spots seem to have gone of the lens but now it has a smudge.

A little sunshine on the side of the A591.
The forecast was for it to clear up this afternoon and they were right. On the way home I was driving in blue sky and sunshine, unfortunately it was too late to be any benefit to me.

Heading down to Thirlspot Farm. I've never walked down (or up) this little section of path before.

Diverting water from these fells into Thirlmere.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks