Walk Date – 5th October 2007
Distance – 8 miles
Weather – very warm and sunny
We still talk about this fabulous day walking the ridge from Helvellyn to Dollywaggon Pike and back. The sun shone all day, there wasn’t a breath of wind and wispy milk white cloud drifted across the bluest of skies. We had intended to return to Wythburn from Dollywaggon Pike via the Grisedale Tarn, Raise Beck and the forest path, but the temptation to simply turn round and do it all again in reverse was just too much. Days as good as this one was don’t come around very often so we felt we just had to make the most of it. Looking back through the photos, once again I was wishing I had taken more of them, even though the camera I had at the time was a very basic one and doesn’t do them justice, because it was such a stunning day.
Its a beautiful morning and there’s a mirror finish on Thirlmere as we climb up towards Comb Crags from the car park at Wythburn. Its steep to begin with but, as the sun isn’t yet high enough, the shade keeps us cool and allows us to see where we are going.
A good pitched path is a great help as we make our way up Birk Side
A pause for a breather and another look back at the view along Thirlmere.
As we neared the ridge we turned off to the left and made our way over to Helvellyn with this view of Striding Edge ahead of us.
Striding Edge disappears behind the head wall of Helvellyn which plunges dramatically into Nethermost Cove.
A closer look at the rock tower, known as The Chimney, just below the head wall.
At the cross shelter just below Helvellyn summit, there wasn’t a soul around either here, on the summit, or back along the ridge as far as we could see. It was extra special to have the place to ourselves and enjoy the peace and quiet and the views.
Busy doing nothing in the sunshine at the cross shelter, you don’t often get the chance to hang around here on your own. The sun visor I’m wearing is still being worn today although its not quite as blue as it was then. I’d had it a while when this shot was taken so it must be getting on for fifteen years old. I’m very fond of it and I don’t care how old it is, it will not be discarded until it falls off in tatters.
From the shelter we made our way up to the cairn on the summit, again no-one was here so we spent a good while just taking in the views. Beyond the cairn is Ullswater with the north Pennines on the skyline.
Looking northwards and on the skyline are Lonscale Fell, Great Calva and Blencathra, below us is the path over to White Side.
Back down to the cross shelter and still no-one around. Out come the binoculars for a more detailed view of the surroundings. The helicopter flying above Ullswater was the only sound to be heard.
The view down to Catstycam and its deserted pathways.
We made our way over to Nethermost Pike from where I took a look back at Helvellyn and the empty path up to the summit.
Looking eastwards across Striding Edge and Ullswater.
On Nethermost Pike and the little dark blob just above Helvellyn is the helicopter about to take its leave and, as the engine drone fades away, we are left with silence once again.
From Nethermost Pike we strolled on over to High Crag and its very substantial cairn, much bigger than the ones on Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike even though these are better known tops.
Its now getting very warm as the morning wears on so off comes the fleece jumper. Nethermost Pike is just behind me and Helvellyn is receding into the distance.
We continue our leisurely stroll across the top with Ullswater still in sight, sandwiched between Gowbarrow Fell, on the left, and Place Fell on the right.
Coming towards the summit of Dollywaggon Pike at the same time as us was another lone walker who very kindly took this shot of us. He headed off towards Helvellyn and we walked further along towards the end of the ridge. The top I’m wearing, which must be even older than the visor, I still have and wear regularly. I wish I could get another because its so comfortable, it hasn’t faded and washes and dries easily. I still have the trousers too, although they have since morphed into a pair of shorts because the bottom of the legs ended up so stained and grimy after ploughing over too many muddy paths year after year.
A look down at Grisedale Tarn as we came to the end of the ridge and where we changed our minds about our return route and turned around to walk the length of the ridge once again. As we walked back there were a few more people here and there but not enough to make it very busy. We noticed a sprinkling of walkers crossing Striding Edge, but nothing like the thronged ant trails of people which seems to be the norm recently. Maybe that’s down to the introduction and widespread use of smartphones, with all their multi-functional capacities, over the past few years. Whatever the reason Striding Edge certainly attracts far more walkers nowadays than it did then.
The day is still as lovely as ever as we make our descent back to Thirlmere.
Some handy rocks were a good place to stop and just enjoy the views over Thirlmere.
Finally back down to the lovely little Wythburn church close to the car park and the end of a really lovely day’s walking.