It now seems to be my first place to head to each visit to the Lakes, it was my first fell (1981) that I climbed in the area and the view north is still my favourite.
We had waited on trying to grab some good weather to head down to Keswick and had watched the forecasts for a couple of weeks but nothing seemed to suit, time was running out so with B&B booked, it was off down south we headed.
The journey down was the normal, with Asda Carlisle our brekkie stop but the weather on the way down wasn’t too promising.
Fed and fuelled up it was off to Penrith before heading west along the A66 to Keswick, the base for our stay.
The rain had disappeared but it was windy, very windy, I checked the latest forecast for the area and the wind was to drop…
But it didn’t, we headed down Borrowdale towards Seatoller and then up the steep road to Honister Slate Mine, Katie was to go shopping, I was to hike up Dale Head, the path starts at the highest point of the pass and just under an hour later, I was standing, nay kneeling behind the summit cairn because I was struggling to stand, yes, it was that windy, the gusts were horrendous, I was glad of the shelter but it seemed the wind was coming from more than one direction. I got the handhelds ready, a short activation which is not my thing, I had originally intended Dale Head, a quick WOTA activation of Hindscarth then on to Robinson and getting picked up later at Newlands Hause. Oh and I managed to find the cache just east of the summit cairn.
I worked 3 stations on 2m FM, one on 4m FM, the fourth was most welcome as I then called over the next five minutes but no one came back. It turned out to be almost a hit and run but conditions seemed to be getting windier, I faced into it on the descent and soon we headed back to Keswick, the cobwebs well and truly blown off.
I got MWIS forecasts each morning from our landlady and between this and the Met Office app, I put off my next trip as it wasn’t looking promising for Wednesday BUT they got it totally wrong, there was still a good breeze at low down but the sun appeared late morning so we just headed to check drop off points for a couple of hills and to visit our friends in Keswick, plans were afoot for Thursday but what hill, a choice of two….but there was no choice, Helvellyn it would be.
I’ve planned this hill after visiting Scafell Pike in 2012 and the forecast was for it to clear late morning, I was to find out it didn’t follow this promise.
Everything was double, treble checked and we set out after another monstrous brekkie to travel the 7 mile down the road to the car park at Swirls on the A591. It was in drizzle and low cloud that I set off and I switched on my GPS (I do carry OS maps and compass) and headed upwards but I wouldn’t have needed it as I set off crossing Helvellyn Gill before heading on to the open fell-side.
It was to what I have now christened ‘Stairway to Helvellyn'(sorry Led Zep), a massive thanks has to be given to the volunteers who improved this path by paving and creating what is a stairway which lasts until you reach the higher levels of the ascent, a magnificent job. The stone was wet so I took care and made note that I would have to be extra careful if I met the same conditions on the descent. It was steady going upwards in visibility which may at best got as good as 40m, I met only three figures descending in the mist, each encouraging me upwards. The last lad said I had only 200m of the steepest part to go before the slow gradual ascent to the summit.
This was most welcome as I’d ascended almost 2,000 ft in just over a mile, quickening my pace I headed up what now was a wide, worn path. The trig point was soon reached and I made a note to bag the virtual cache on my way back down. The summit shelter was my target, I soon was sitting having a bite to eat and deciding what to do, it was raining and the wind was gusting strong at times. I decided to do as the same Tuesday, handie only..
I called and got John TDM in Penrith, a short chat whilst he put a spot on the SOTA website, thanks John! Next in the log was Derek MIX from Whitehaven whom I worked the previous hill and this pattern was to follow as John FGQ in North Wales replied to my call on 4m and was my only contact on the band on both hills. A short break whilst I chatted with various people who appeared and wondered what I was up to. If you can get an interested party to take the hobby up and are keen hill walkers the better, I think an information sheet would be a good idea, I’ll get busy..
The wind and rain lightened and I just carried on and notched up another 5 contacts, Rob HRT in Southport, Paul WTT in Elwoe, John ZPL/p nr Bangor, Brian ZRP in the Wirral and finally a STS (summit to summit) with John TQE/p on Stiperstones in North Staffordshire approx 216 kms to the south of me..nice one!
I called on both 2 and 4m but nothing more. The rain had stopped by now so I packed everything away and got ready to head back the way I’d ascended once I called Katie and arranged a pickup time, I had factored in extra time for what could have been a descent on wet stone ‘steps’.
Off to the trig point, and I noted the info I needed for bagging the cache and noticed three padlocks on top of the trig, so it wasn’t just Ben Lomond this happens on, see HERE. I set off down the gradual wide open summit path trying to catch a look down Swirral Edge but I soon reached the slopes of Little Man and soon I was passing Browncove Crags, not long after I passed I could see the cloud lifting and as I reached the top of the ‘staircase’, a quick look back and the cloud had lifted, will I go back?
Nope, it was down the ‘staircase’ which thankfully was now dry, gently picking my way down and having a quick word with the throngs now ascending the hill, I met Magda, a Polish woman I’d spoken with on the summit. She had decided to sit and enjoy the views.
I slowly worked my way down the paved path before heading through the gate and bridge which led me in the car park where Katie was waiting on me.
1 hour 54 minutes to ascend and 1 hour 40 minutes to descend, I was more than happy at this.
I was happy to have done this fell, the third highest point in England. I’ve now done three of the seven 3,000 plus hills in England.
It is now down to planning my next venture to the area….
Katie did ask on our last day if I wanted to catch another hill whilst she did her last shop, I could have nipped up either of the Mell Fells but I thought, another day…
It was then a quick run back over the border to home.
I logged my activations and pleased to see I have now reached 300 points.
There are no images of the Dale Head activation due to the weather conditions.
Another memorable visit to the Lakes, what next?
The Wikipedia page on Helvellyn makes for interesting reading HERE
The blog post title?
It wasn’t a trip to Hel..vellyn, I just thought it was a good ‘un.
During our visit, we took a trip to Surprise View above Derwent Water past the famous Ashness Bridge, I took this photo of Expedition Driver Katie…
Spotted this in a Cockermouth car park, do you know the answer?