Helvellyn is one of the four mountains in England above 3000ft, and is the third highest mountain in England after Scafell Pike and Scafell. (The fourth is Skiddaw, rising above Keswick in case you wanted to know).
The Adventure Out/Transpennine autumn meet was at a hostel occupying one of the buildings belonging to the former Greenside lead mine above the village of Glenridding on the shores of Ullswater. The lead mines operated between 1825 and 1961 and produced c160,000 tonnes of lead and 1,600,000 ounces (45 tonnes) of silver from around 2 million tons of ore. During the 1940s it was the largest producer of lead ore in the UK. The surrounding hills are scared with the remains of the diggings, but the spoil heaps have been landscaped and now the remaining paths and tramways are good walking routes.
The hostel is at an altitude of c300m, so is a good third of the way up Helvellyn; with a reasonable forecast we a got a good head start from the hoards that would be climbing the mountain on a sunny Saturday (there’s no off-season anymore in The Lakes). Our route took us first up to Red Tarn which is enclosed by Helvellyn’s ‘edges’ – Swiral Edge to the north and Striding Edge to the south. From Red Tarn we made our way onto Striding Edge, which is a good scramble that holds interest for its whole length. The sting is in its tail though and a short 5m descent to a gap to the final headwall of Helvellyn requires a good head for heights and care to overcome safely. The ascent of the headwall to the summit is an easy but sustained scramble. There was a fare number of people on the summit already, the views were extensive down to the hills in Lancashire and north cross the Solway to Scotland. After a pleasant lunch break in the sunshine we continued our walk over Helvellyn Low Man, Whiteside and finally Raise before making a descent by Sticks Pass and through the mines back to the hostel.
Sunday was blustery but dry day and we had a shorter walk over Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd before setting off for home in mid-afternoon. Thanks to Andy for organising.