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Helvellyn and Striding Edge Walk
Statistics:
Map of the walk
Start:
Legburthwaite (0.25 mile off the A591)
Start (OS ref):
NY318190
Map (1:25,000):
Parking:
Car Park (about 40 spaces)
Distance:
9.8 miles (15.7 km)
Time:
5 - 6 hours
Difficulty:
Very Hard
Climbing:
1,302 metres
Hazards:
Strenuous climbing and descending. There is also some scrambling on Striding Edge
Refreshments:
None
Route Map:

Summary:
I had walked up Helvellyn via Striding Edge from Glenridding on a previous occasion. Dave and Steve hadn't, so on a trip to the Lakes some years ago I convinced them to do it. As we were staying in our usual haunt, Keswick we did the walk from Legburthwaite via Sticks Pass and Raise. This would make Striding Edge easier as you can see what you are letting yourself in for whereas from Glenridding you don't know what you face on the edge until you are faced with it. Despite my reassurances Steve and Dave were still nervous as we set off on the walk. A walk with its usual diversions as they usually are when the three of us walk together.

elevation profile

The Story of the Walk:

Dave's first time on top of Helvellyn
Steve contemplates his first meeting with the edge
Dave's first time on top of Helvellyn
Steve contemplates his first meeting with the edge

As we set off from Legburthwaite to Sticks Pass the early morning low cloud was promisingly beginning to lift. It was vital it kept on doing so because I would have a hell of a job getting them onto Striding Edge if it didn't clear. The initial half mile is very steep and Dave in particular made heavy weather of the start. In good time though we made the height into the hills getting ever nearer the darned cloud. It was still above us at Sticks Pass but not yet off the summit of Raise, our next target. That was a great shame for on my only other occasion on Raise I had enjoyed the most marvellous panoramic views. The underrated Raise provides the most fantastic of views towards Ullswater, Haweswater and the landscape to the east on a clear day.  Disappointment of the low cloud noted I made on ahead of them from Sticks Pass immediately in order to keep them from changing their minds about tackling Striding Edge. As I did so I began to lose them in the cloud cover. Eventually I reached and passed the top of Raise and then White Side. As I neared the summit of Helvellyn I couldn't see more than 10 metres in front of me. I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the path and the sheer drops to my left as I reached the trig point. But where were the boys? I couldn't see them and the wind drowned out my shouts to them. I waited a while then walked back (the cloud was continuing to lift and improve visibility) but still no sign of them. Other walkers hadn't seen them either and just as I was getting worried (15 minutes had passed now) I spotted them about 50 metres away on the other side of the Helvellyn summit.

The first views of Striding Edge in lifting cloud
The boys prepare for their encounter with the edge
The first views of Striding Edge in lifting cloud
The boys prepare for their encounter with the edge

As soon as we met they moaned about the difficulty of crossing Striding Edge in cloud. I reassured them that the cloud was lifting and then we all had a drinks break waiting for Striding Edge to appear out of the cloud. They were not going to do it if they couldn't see it. Eventually, as the first picture shows, and as a relief to me, the edge showed itself. So, after a pause and with unbelievable clear blue skies considering what we had been in half an hour before, we made our way off Helvellyn and onto Striding Edge.The walk along Striding Edge, the easy way from high point to low point but a crossing all the same was fun all the way. As my two companions could see what they had to do they too found it a bit of a breeze. After all that moaning I took from them they achieved it with no problem. They actually really enjoyed it and I could see the thrill in their eyes as we reached Hole in the Wall and took lunch. As we ate we decided our strategy for the remainder of the walk as we don't like backtracking. Swirral Edge was ruled out so we took the decision to drop to Grisedale Beck. On reflection, considering what happened next we should have done Swirral Edge.

On Striding Edge losing my balance on an easy bit!
This is easy guys, follow me
On Striding Edge losing my balance on an easy bit!
This is easy guys, follow me

The drop to Grisedale Beck doesn't have a path the way we were needing to go so we followed a wall down to Patterdale Common and oh, did Dave moan. It was funny though but a tough scramble down and we were all a bit jiggered when we reached the common. Steve had reason to moan too. The scramble down to Patterdale Common has destroyed his trusty old walking boots. They fell apart during the tough descent, parts of which we all spent on our backsides. A sad moment losing those boots. And it still now makes me think back to all the occasions I had followed in his tracks during the hundreds of miles we had all walked together. I had often watched the soles of his boots just ahead of me. They were so distinctive with a light grey sole and a logo that always drew my attention. No more was I going to have to endure the sight of that darned logo! Back to the walk and following our scramble (and slide) down to the common the subsequent climb up to Grisedale Tarn wasn't much fun either. Realising our fatigue when we reached the far side of the tarn the six mile walk along a woodland track back to the car that we faced after the three miles we still had to do to get to Mill Bridge was ruled out unanimously. We all agreed that getting a bus at Mill Bridge was the sensible option. And so we did just that, a good choice as the heavens opened to bring a close on our wonderful walking day. A bus came shortly after we had reached the bus stop and we enjoyed one of the sweetest bus journeys ever back to the car. A good laugh, and now Steve and Dave can always say they have done Striding Edge. Well done boys. Oh, and goodbye old boots!

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