Snow-capped mountains rise into vast blue skies, frozen tarns lay patiently awaiting discovery, lowlands come alight in the winter sun crystallised under their icy blanket.
Winter has arrived in the Lake District and by gosh she’s beautiful!
‘…clear skies held promise of some epic Lakeland views!’
I see life in a series a captures; I’m constantly framing the landscape and yelling… ‘Now THAT would make a good shot!’ …usually whilst halting completely in my tracks causing those walking behind to adopt some quick reactions to avoid collision! To some extent I have to knock this behaviour on the head, because if I didn’t then we would honestly never manage to get round any of the routes that we had actually planned to, especially in winter when the days are far shorter!
The following blog post features a trip up Helvellyn in early January… a fresh snow fall had covered the higher grounds and clear skies held promise of some epic Lakeland views!
‘…taking on an icy Striding Edge?’
Wanting to experience ‘proper’ winter walking but recognising that Helvellyn is a mountain with a summit of 3118ft and the conditions, although absolutely beautiful, were somewhat inclement… we chose to make the ascent up to Helvellyn from Wythburn. Don’t get me wrong, I love a challenge but taking on an icy Striding Edge? I’ll leave that to the pros! – Besides the route from Wythburn comes with its own little challenges.
Being one of the more direct paths to Helvellyn the route is naturally steep; a sharp climb through idyllic woodland gives way to open fells… now the views kick in! Taking a look over your shoulder as you ascend Comb Crags gives one of those wonderful moments were you can mask a tactical break to allow your lungs to catch up with your legs whilst taking in superior views of Thirlmere and the western fells.
The pathway is pretty well trodden for the majority of the route and despite the snow on higher ground, we were able to follow the steps of a keen fell runner who we later passed as he made his descent… fair play to that chap!
Leaving the saddle between Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn was the equivalent of stepping through the wardrobe and into Narnia… unimaginable views of Striding Edge came in to sight and weary legs became a distant thought as we powered on to the summit.
We hit the summit at around 9.30am sharing it only with a small group of climbers laden with ice axes and crampons… the gentle jingle of their climbing apparatus played like a symphony, and as we took in the views before us, we shared a moment of collective euphoria.
Making the descent we came off the summit in a westerly direction heading down Browncove Crags towards Swirls Car Park. Similar to the ascent the path was steep and ice only added to the complexity… I shan’t lie, I took a minor tumble, but for the sake of my pride lets skim over that one (as I did the rock I slipped on 😦 )
To finish of the walk we wound our way back along the forest paths before landing back at Wythburn just in time for lunch! 🙂
All in all a perfect little walk, it’s no surprise that we voted Helvellyn as Britain’s favourite walk… check out the Ordnance Survey for more great routes across our beautiful green space.
See you on the fells!