About the Hike
Conquer the Majestic Helvellyn: Discover the No-Ridge Hiking Route
If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download the GPX route from above straight into it. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction with.
The Lake District, located in the heart of the United Kingdom, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its picturesque landscapes, pristine lakes, and rugged mountains, it offers a multitude of opportunities for hiking and exploration. One such mountain that stands out in this region is Helvellyn. Rising to a height of 950 meters, Helvellyn is the third-highest peak in the Lake District and is renowned for its breathtaking views and challenging hiking routes.
Why Choose the Non-Scamble Route
Helvellyn is a popular destination for hikers, attracting both experienced trekkers and beginners alike. While there are several routes to choose from, the non-scramble route offers a unique and accessible experience for those who want to conquer Helvellyn without the need for a scramble, which for many people can be quite daunting and dangerous, if this is not something you have done before. Moreover, if you are out solo then it really is the safer option. This makes it an ideal choice for hikers who are new to hiking or prefer a less challenging ascent.
The non-scramble route on Helvellyn provides a reasonably well-maintained path that takes you through stunning landscapes, gushing waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Lake District. This route allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the region while still providing a sense of adventure and accomplishment.
Section 1: Starting Point - Wythburn Car Park CA12 4TW, Length - 2km.
This route up Helvellyn begins in the Wythburn car park. This is pay and display, coin only; however, when I was there, the machine wasn't working. This car park is located at the southeast end of Thirlmere, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District. Start your hike by following the well-marked path from the car park, which gradually ascends through picturesque woodlands.
As you make your way up, you will be treated to stunning views of Thirlmere and the surrounding mountains. Take your time to soak in the beauty of the landscape and listen to the sounds of nature. The path is well-maintained and easy to follow, making it suitable for hikers of all levels of experience.
Section 2: The Ascent up Raise Beck - Section 2km and to a height of 574m
As you begin your ascent up Raise Beck towards Grisedale Tarn, you'll be greeted by a mesmerizing display of natural beauty. The gentle sound of the beck flowing alongside the path adds to the tranquil atmosphere, creating a truly immersive experience. When I went on this hike, the stone path was frozen over in parts, so I highly recommend some micro-spikes as, in parts, it was hazardous. However, the frozen water and occasional waterfall made it truly magical.
The difficulty level of the hike may vary depending on your fitness level and hiking experience. While the trail is not particularly challenging for experienced hikers, it does require a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. The ascent involves some steep sections and uneven terrain, so it's essential to be prepared and take your time. Novice hikers may find the initial climb a bit strenuous, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The path is straightforward and will get you directly to the Tarn.
Section 3: Grisedale Tarn to Dollywaggon Pike - Section 2km to a height of 858m
Once you get to Grisedale Tarn, you have a flat section for around 1km, which gives you the opportunity to catch your breath and stop for a snack or lunch. The Tarn is stunning, and in winter, the sun rises behind it. However, after that lovely lunch, you have a rather steep ascent up to Dollywaggon Pike. I found this quite challenging; it's a well-maintained zig-zag path, but it ascends nearly 300m in a short space of time. That said, as always, once you reach the top and those stunning views of Glenridding and beyond become clear, you soon forget about your aching legs and shortness of breath.
Section 4: Dollywaggon Pike to Helvellyn - Section 3km to a height of 948m
You'll be relieved to hear that this section is far more steady, with a height gain of only 100m unless you want to tick off Nethermost Pike, which would add on a bit more. This section is a beautiful walk, and you have so much space and get views over both sides of the mountains, giving you 360-degree views. The summit of Helvellyn looks quite far away, but it does not take long to get there, and once there, the sense of achievement is insane. The summit can be a bit deceiving as you may think you have got there when you reach the shelter. However, the Cairn is a bit further on. The shelter is a great place to rest your feet, grab a snack and admire the views.
On a clear winter day, the views from Helvellyn are particularly remarkable. The snow-covered landscape sparkles under the brilliant sun, casting a magical glow over the entire region. The distant fells and rolling hills blanketed in white, create a serene and peaceful ambience. As I take in the breathtaking views from the summit, I can't help but feel a profound sense of gratitude for being able to witness such natural beauty.
Section 5: The Descent - Section 4km and a loss of nearly 700m
For this bit, you have to backtrack for a few metres to get to the path down. I have to put a warning here as you make all the descent back to the car at a much shorter distance than the ascent, so it is pretty steep and, therefore, a bit hard on these old knees. I would highly recommend using walking poles for this section if you haven't already. That said, the walk is still lovely, and before you know it, you are back admiring the views of Thirlmere before you kick off your boots and get back in the car.
Tips for a succesful Winter Hike
Conquering Helvellyn in winter requires proper preparation and careful planning. Here are some essential tips to ensure a successful and safe adventure:
Check the weather forecast: Winter conditions can be unpredictable, so it is crucial to check the weather forecast before embarking on your hike. Be aware of any potential storms or extreme weather conditions that may pose risks.
Dress in layers: Layering is essential to staying warm and comfortable during a winter hike. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add insulating layers for warmth, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Remember hats, gloves, and warm socks to protect extremities.
Carry essential gear: Pack essential gear such as a map, compass, headlamp, extra batteries, first aid kit, and a fully charged mobile phone. Additionally, consider carrying crampons or microspikes to provide traction on icy surfaces.
Stay hydrated and nourished: It is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather, so make sure to drink plenty of water and consume high-energy snacks to fuel your body throughout the hike. Consider carrying a thermos with a warm drink or soup to keep you hydrated and warm.
Conclusion: A winter Adventure to Remember
Conquering Helvellyn in winter is a truly remarkable experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul. The beauty of the snow-covered landscape, the breathtaking views from the summit, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with reaching the top make it an adventure worth undertaking. As you descend from the majestic peak, a feeling of awe and reverence for nature's power and beauty will stay with you long after the journey ends.
So, if you are seeking an exhilarating winter adventure, Helvellyn awaits. Prepare yourself, bask in the snow-covered wonders, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Lace up your boots, embrace the spirit of exploration, and embark on a journey to conquer Helvellyn – an adventure to remember.
GPX: If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download the GPX route from above straight into it. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction with.
Disclaimer: At the time of this walk, all the rights of way were open, and the terrain was easy to navigate, I followed all the rights of way as per the OS maps, but things can change. Please be aware that the weather/farmers etc., can change things and therefore, the route may not be as possible as it was for me. Please make your checks beforehand including the weather. Please get in touch with me if any information that I have included has now changed.