10th April 2016

Winter returns to the Helvellyn fells

Time 7am to 1pm
Duration 6 hr
Distance 10.5 mile
Ascent Somewhere around 3800 ft
Walking with On my own
Swirls - Browncove Crags - Helvellyn - Helvellyn Lower Man - White Side - Raise - top of Sticks Pass - White Stones - Hart Crag - Stybarrow Dodd - off path to Sticks Pass sheepfold - Stanah - road back to 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 !!

Weather Readings

The Gadget
All readings were taken using a Kestrel 2000 Weather Meter
Live temperature recorded at the time I press the hold key
Maximum Wind Speed Maximum wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location Average Wind Speed
Average wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location
Wind Chill
Combination of wind speed and temperature. The gadget does the calculations not me.

Route Map


There are two things I've wanted lately. One was to have a walk up Helvellyn because I haven't been up here since last May, and the other was for spring to arrive so we can forget about winter for another year. When I got up this morning I decided this would be the day I went up Helvellyn and as for leaving winter behind, well, all I can say is thankfully that wish did not come true today.
Here, at the bottom of Helvellyn Gill you see that for the time being at least, snow had fallen to almost valley level. After following the footpath diversion put in place by the folk working on the A591, I cross the bridge and hope the conditions stay favorable for the rest of the walk - I wasn't disappointed.

Here's a close up picture of Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man and Lonscale Fell. Can I suggest you take note of how much snow there is, commit the picture to memory and then compare it to a couple of the photos towards the end to see how much snow melted throughout the day.

Reflections on Thirlmere.

Before I had time to say "it won't be long til I'm walking in the sun" I was, well, , , walking in the sun. And, apart from the short section around the side of Browncove Crags, I enjoyed its brightness for the rest of the walk.
The shock to the system today, was that for about half an hour on this bit my feet were absolutely freezing, in fact, I even took a boot off because I thought they were letting in and I might have been walking through snow with wet feet - they were bone dry so it wasn't that. Very strange considering the rest of me was quite warm and I did the whole walk in short sleeves. Must be getting old, from my feet upwards.

Heading up the steeper section of the route on Browncove Crags.

Going off last nights forecast I had expected plenty of sunshine today but I certainly didn't think I'd get all this snow as well.

Looking southwards I notice the cloud in the valleys. Anyone on those fells will be getting a treat this morning.

and a close up.



8:15 at the top of Helvellyn and as the saying goes "the early bird get one of Lakelands most popular fells to himself"

Mmmmm, don't get too close to the edge otherwise things could very well come to an abrupt end.

I zoom in on the cloud inversion over the north end of Ullswater.

One last photo at the top of Helvellyn before I head off.

I leave the summit and after walking back the way I'd came for a little while, I head onto Helvellyn Lower Man.

Helvellyn Lower Man, again, don't get too close to the edge.

Looking down the path on Helvellyn Lower Man. I had expected to see at least a few people on the fells down there but no; I still had the whole place to myself.

Looking back across to Helvellyn.

Helvellyn Lower Man.

Looking back to Helvellyn and Helvellyn Lower Man from the start of the walk up White Side.

White Side summit.


Here at the top of Raise I saw the first people of the walk. Just after leaving here I saw a lady who was walking and soon after that a cyclist, and that was it until I was almost back down to Stanah. Very surprising for such a perfect day.

As it was such a nice day, on the way down from Raise (that's it over there) I decided to add Hart Side and Stybarrow Dodd onto the walk. A couple of weeks ago while on Hart Side I commented that it was an easy fell to not include on a walk, so today, I saw it as the perfect fell to add onto a walk. It gave me some extra distance and keep me up here for longer.

Spot the skier.

Although it didn't have to come this way, the route I took to Hart Side went over White Stones. From here I got this view back across to Raise and Helvellyn. At this point I thought the day was changing but thankfully the cloud never made if this far and it soon vanished anyway.

The route to Hart Side - it looks a long way but it's easy going and doesn't take long at all.

Hart Side summit looking towards the two Mell Fells.

and looking in the opposite direction.

An interesting sky on Stybarrow Dodd.

For no particular reason I took an off path route down from Stybarrow Dodd. Notice how little snow there is on the more western & southern fells.

Down at the Sticks Pass sheepfold it becomes apparent just how much snow has melted from the northern Fells and elsewhere.

Now for the steep bit on Sticks Pass.

Nearing the bottom of the pass, I take a picture looking across to Thirlmere and part of the central ridge.


Well what can I say about that walk except it'll have be a strong contender for the walk of the year.

Just one thing though; I never expected to be saying I miss the traffic thundering past as I walk alongside this road. The sooner it opens the better, so I can reacquaint myself with areas that are currently impractical to reach. The amusing thing is, on the walk along here four cars passed me, stopped for a minute at the last of the "Road Closed " signs and then turned around. One the drivers even stopped and asked if I knew if the road really was closed. I mean come on, are these people totally stupid. Perhaps they thought the signs were left over from an elaborate April fools joke.


David Hall -
Lake District Walks