30th March 2013

Helvellyn, White Side, Raise and Sticks Pass


Walk Overview
Time 09.00 to 14.10
Duration 5 hr 10 min
Distance 7.7 mile
Ascent 2170 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
Swirls - Browncove Crags - Helvellyn - Helvellyn Lower Man - White Side - Raise - Sticks Pass - Stanah - 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

Taking advantage of the long lasting winter conditions we headed up onto Helvellyn today. And while the place wasn't exactly deserted it was quieter than I ever thought it would be on a bank holiday weekend. I suspect the weather has put a lot of people off coming to the Lake District whether it be to walk the fells or not. On top of that, many people who would have normally headed up here may have stuck to the lower fells instead.

Reflections on Thirlmere.

Looking up the path to Browncove Crags.

It looks like the higher fells over there are enjoying plenty of sunshine at the moment, from the Scafells on the left, Great Gable in the centre of the picture and Pillar on the right.

Another view looking up, this time as we get into the snow (and ice) proper.

We had a brief snow fall as we walked up this section as the white dots on the lake help to show.


With there being very little wind, the walk up here was surprisingly un-cold. The cloud also lifted as we approached the highest point of the walk so we were fortunate on two counts.

Looking back down to Browncove Crags.

Helvellyn summit (the high point over there) seen from the trig point.
Now I've got a mark on the lense which I didn't notice until I got home; never mind.

Catstye Cam seen from the summit.

I don't suppose there are many Easter Saturdays when you'd find the shelter on Helvellyn deserted. In fact, there were only two other people at the summit, a lady who was leaving as we got there and a climber who arrived as we left.

Helvellyn summit plateau.


From Helvellyn we walked back a short way before heading onto Helvellyn Lower Man. We then walked down the ridge you can see on the right of the picture.

The snow cornices were fantastic up here today, , , , and as nice as they looked they're best viewed from a distance.

Helvellyn seen from Helvellyn Lower Man.

Looking down Helvellyn Lower Man's northern ridge towards White Side and Raise.

Catstye Cam seen from the walk down the ridge. In the distance you can see Ullswater (behind Sheffield Pike).

White Side ahead of us.

A view back up Helvellyn Lower Man.

and again, from a distance. Up on the left is Helvellyn itself.


Heading across to Raise summit. Strange how this area has a consistent covering of snow rather than the drifts that other places have.

Catstye Cam and its northern ridge. That would have been an interesting route today but we're over here instead.

A frozen Raise summit.

Stepping aside from the summit to take a picture of the higher Lakeland fells in the distance.

On the walk off Raise you catch a view of Ullswater down there behind the "V" shaped Nick Head.

"Will somebody knock this thing off, I only sat down for a rest and now I'm being dragged back up the fell I've just walked down"

The top of Sticks Pass.

Sticks Gill. The one on the Thirlmere side. I wouldn't like to try to cross the snow down there.

Blue sky above Raise.

A view down Sticks Pass.

and a view back up.

Looking up to Stybarrow Dodd (right) and part of Watson's Dodd (left).

We're almost at the bottom of Sticks Pass now but before we're off the fell we had to walk through a large area of ankle deep snow. It was actually quite firm under foot and if you're confident on this stuff it made for a speedier than normal descent.

Apart from the drifted snow against the walls, hedges and buildings, the valleys and the lower fells are slowly but surely getting back to normal. I suspect the higher fells will take some time before the snow is completely melted.

And to finish, a close up of Skiddaw.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks