My favourite day of the walk – one of those great days in the Lakes that makes you want to keep going back. In this case an invigorating ridge walk via Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pike to Helvellyn, with tremendous views in all directions, made for a most enjoyable hike.
The weather was great again – a lot of cloud but the cloud base was well above the tops. There was also plenty of sun although the wind was blowing a gale up on the ridge which made it quite cool.
The route starts just up from Grasmere, leaving the A591 not long after passing the pub at Mill Bridge to commence yet another slow and steady climb, this time via Tongue Gill to the attractive Grisedale Tarn. At this point the low-level route starts to descend and generally follows Grisedale Beck into Patterdale, but if you are feeling energetic and have some time, there are some great alternatives.
One alternative is to climb steeply to Fairfield and then descend via St Sunday Crag but as mentioned I chose to visit Helvellyn, requiring a steep but relatively short climb up to Dollywagon Pike and then a walk along the ridge where it was pretty busy as usual. I had lunch protected from the wind by a small shelter (not shown on my OL map) just down from Helvellyn – a quick check of the shelter near the summit of Helvellyn through my telephoto lens showed that it was standing room only, which tends to defeat the object when the wind’s blowing.
After attaining the summit – visiting both the cairn at the highest point (950m) and the official OS trig point to the north-east at 949m, I made a quick visit to Helvellyn Lower Man, then returned and descended via Swirral Edge. I thought about going via Striding Edge, but there was a bit of a traffic jam at the last section where you need to climb down (if you are ascending Helvellyn) from the ridge line – it’s quite steep and people were taking it slowly. I’d done it before anyway, so decided an earlier beer would be preferable.
From Swirral Edge I took the path via Red Tarn to Hole-in-the-Wall and then descended into Patterdale for a beer at the White Lion, before taking up accomodations at Oldwater view Guesthouse. We stayed in the ‘Place Fell’ room – apparently Wainwright’s favourite when he stayed there (called Ullswater View in those days). The proprietor explained that BBC were making a c2c film to follow up on their Wainwright series with Julia Bradbury and that they would be filming there in September. On the wall was a copy of a guestbook page from 1942 with Wainwright’s neat and distinctive signature at the bottom.
A nice meal at the White Lion (which was packed with people, at least a third of which were c2c’ers I recognised) capped off a fantastic day.
(Total distance approx. 8.5 miles – official route)