4th June 2013

Summer has arrived - Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike


Walk Overview
Date 4th June 2013
Time 7.50 am to 3.00pm
Duration 6 hr 50 min
Distance 9.5 mile
Ascent 3700 ft
Walking with Jennifer
Swirls - Browncove Crags - Helvellyn - Swallow Scarth - Nethermost Pike - Dollywaggon Pike - Willie Wife Moor - Reggle Knott - Forest paths back to 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

It was about 7.45 when we parked up this morning and we could tell what a gorgeous day it was going to be already. Apart from a couple of minutes when a rogue cloud passed overhead while we were on Nethermost Pike, we were in the sunshine for the duration. Even though is was an absolutely fantastic day on the fells, there were actually a few things that could have made it a little better:-
- a foot of snow
- a cloud inversion that burned off by mid day
- an ice cream van at the top of Helvellyn
- if the guy we'd employed to carry our gear had bothered to turn up
Apart from that, , , , this is about as good as it gets.

Before we started the walk up Helvellyn, I nipped across the road for the view down to Thirlmere. I bet it was lovely walking around there today, but we're heading up instead of across.

Apart from the nice view, there are a couple of things to point out here. All the newly planted trees up on the right and the big area os bluebells just left of centre.

Thirlmere was like a mirror this morning with all the trees on the side of High Seat and Raven Crag reflected perfectly in the lake. In the far distance is Skiddaw, looking remarkably clear given how far away it is.

There seemed to be quite a lot of cloud building up across to the west and at this point I thought the day was about to go down hill. Thankfully I was wrong.

Very steep but as Jennifer said at the time, "isn't it better when you have proper steps like this".


Long distance views from the path above Browncove Crags.

Lots to see here. To name a few things; the Coniston fells, the Langdales, Bow Fell, High Raise, Steel Fell.

Looking across to Helvellyn Lower Man.

Looking down to Swirral Edge.

Red Tarn.
Yes, I know it's more blue than red but you can hardly blame me if the person that named it was colour blind.

At the trig point with no hat, no gloves and not wearing a jacket. Yes, summer is here.

Looking back up to Helvellyn from the Gough Memorial.

A close up of a big group of people on Striding Edge. Sound must have been travelling well in the clear conditions as I could almost hear every word they were saying.

Not my idea of enjoyable fellwalking at all !! That's not to say they weren't enjoying it because they probably were.

"which one are we taking, left, right or middle"
"The right hand path takes you down to Wythburn Church, the middle one by-passes the top so we'll be taking the path on the left"


Looking across Nethermost Pike's stoney and somewhat flat summit.

Another picture showing lots of Lakeland.

The last fell of the day was Dollywaggon Pike and this is the view down to Grisedale and Ullswater seen from the summit.

Looking back along the ridge towards Helvellyn.

The post. It was here that we left the path, headed down to Willie Wife Moor and eventually ended up at the side of Dunmail Raise.

That's Willie Wife Moor down there (the flat bit). Once you get to the end of it you can see Dunmail Raise and as long as you head for the section where the road splits, you should easily pick up the path down the other side of the moor.

Dunmail Raise below Steel Fell. The path i was taking is a little to the right of the picture.

Standing on Reggle Knott and looking down to Thirlmere. There aren't that many places where you can see this much of the lake in one go so this is probably one of the best vantage points in the area.

Seat Sandal and Raise Beck would have been the first choice to get down from Dollywaggon Pike. Although today, I thought it might be a good idea to cut across Willie Wife Moor instead. It's a bit gentler and the views are more open. As soon as Jennifer put her foot down a hole I was told we should have walked down by Raise Beck.

Blimey, that wasn't half low, , , ,

, , , and off it goes.

"it seems a shame to go back on such a nice day like this"
"I know we're heading back but there's still a long way to go. In fact, we're probably further away from the car now, than we have been all day."

The fell in the far distance (centre) is Lonscale Fell. We were up there on Saturday looking across to where we are now.

These are the lower waterfalls on Birkside Gill. It's been years since I've walked further up the gill although I can recommend going up there after a few days of torrential rain.

It was an absolute pleasure to be walking through here today. This must be the hottest day I've walked in since this time last year. It felt like a real scorcher, , , and we all know, that makes you feel good about everything. Having said all that, if you had to look at the actual figures, it probably wasn't that hot at all; we're simply not used to it

We'd walked from Swirls to Helvellyn, then from Helvellyn to Dunmail Raise and now we're walking between Dunmail Raise and Swirls. Wythburn Church? No, not today but 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

A gap in the trees gives a nice view down to Thirlmere.

We're almost back at the car now and here we are looking back up to Browncove Crags again.

Just a short walk down the road and you get to the free parking spaces. At weekends and busier days these spaces are quickly taken up by those who prefer to be up at a decent time of day. Late comers are likely to find it full.

Getting back to the car was perfectly timed as it turned out. As we got there a guy walked up and asked if I was able to get a mobile phone signal.
"mobile phone, , , sorry, I haven't got one" He looked at me as if I'd just landed from another planet when I said that (maybe I have)
"I'm not sure what to do. We've broken down and I need to phone the breakdown people"
"That's okay, I'll give you a lift into Keswick and you'll be able to sort something out from there"

So that was by good deed for the day. The irony was, they told us they'd just spent two years touring around the most remote parts of New Zealand in a camper van and after all that, they end up getting stranded 5 miles from Keswick.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks