Map for walk up HelvellynThis walk takes us to the summit of Helvellyn, one of the most famous of all Lake District peaks, without approaching either of the infamous ridges. This route also has the advantage that it takes us to six summits (including Little Man) and visits Grisedale Tarn.

This is a long, strenuous walk, which really needs a full day to appreciate properly.

Ascent: 3,500ft/ 1070m
Length: 12.5 miles/ 20km
Map: Explorer 005 English Lakes North East
Last Walked: 8 August 2005

We start from Patterdale for reasons of parking - there is a reasonable all-day car park opposite the hotel in Patterdale which is much cheaper than any parking I found in Glenridding.

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Starting at the car park in Patterdale, head north along the main road heading towards Ullswater. Follow the road as it curves to the left past Patterdale Church and into Grisedale Bridge. Just before the bridge itself turn left onto a lane that runs to the left of Grisedale Beck.
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We stay on this lane for just over half a mile, before we reach a gate that marks the end of the public road (marked yellow on the OS maps). Here turn right and follow the track as it cuts across the valley bottom. Leave the lane where it turns right again (towards some kennels), and follow the very obvious path to the other side of the valley.
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Eagle CragAt the edge of the valley bottom our path passes through a wall. Turn left and follow the path that runs alongside this wall, heading up Grisedale. Don't take the more obvious path that begins to climb up away from the valley bottom - this is Grisedalethe path to Striding Edge.

We now stay on this path all the way to Grisedale Tarn. Navigation is simple - keep on heading up the valley, staying on the right hand side of the beck all the way up.

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Grisedale TarnAt the top of Grisedale we reach Grisedale Tarn. Our path passes to the right of the tarn. Soon after we draw level with the tarn, the path splits. The left hand branch continues close to the tarn, while the right hand (clearer) path zigzags up the slope to the right. Follow this path as it climbs up onto the ridge that leads to Helvellyn.

The path is now clear and obvious all the way to the summit of Helvellyn. However the main path passes to the left of the summits of Dollywaggon Pike, High Crag and Nethermost Pike, each of which is worth "bagging" on the way past. In mist or fog stick to the main path, which is at least safely distant from the lines of crags to the east.

Helvellyn from High CragStriding Edge from Nethermost Pike

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The top of Helvellyn is almost always busy, but even on a clear summer day I was able to find relative solitude by moving slightly away from the cairn and the crowds coming up the edges.

Swirral EdgeView south from HelvellynView west from Helvellyn

To continue on follow the main ridge as it heads north west to Helvellyn Lower Man

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Helvellyn Lower ManOur path splits just before the climb to the summit of Lower Man. Take the right hand path and climb up to the summit (a total ascent of about 60 feet, barely noticeable after our earlier efforts!). This path continues over the summit of Lower Man and onto the ridge that leads north to Whiteside Bank, our last planned summit of the day.
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Glenridding ValleyFrom the summit of Whiteside Bank we continue along the ridge towards Raise, with Keppel Cover to our right. Just after leaving the summit, the path splits in two. Take the right hand branch that curves around the top of the cove.

After about half a mile the path turns right and zigzags down into the valley of Glenridding. At the bottom of the zigzags the path reaches a track that runs down the valley bottom. Turn left and head down the valley. We follow this track all the way into the village of Glenridding. Take care where the track passes through some abandoned mine works (close to the Youth Hostel).

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Turn right onto the main road in Glenridding and follow it back to Patterdale. Permissive footpaths take us off the actual roadside for most of this walk, which passes close to the lakeshore for a brief spell.

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