Last November 2002 I wrote about the English Lake District and how enthralled I was with it so a return was on the cards. In September, I returned with a group of hill walkers to tackle yet more peaks. The scenery in the English Lake District is more gentle than Scotland without the remoteness and wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. It tends to be busy as it serves the north of England where there is a concentration of population. I noticed that there were many groups of young people and schoolchildren, something you do not see so much in Scotland in the hills or maybe they are just more spread out as the Scottish Highlands are fairly extensive and often a distance from centres of population.
It had been a late decision to travel to the Lakes and finding group accomodation was difficult in such a busy area but Moya managed to find a hostel in the National Park for the exclusive use of our group. It was conveniently located for the start of the walk to Helvellyn so naturally that was the chosen walk for the next day. Helvellyn is one of the most popular pikes (peaks) for walkers in the Lake District and early in the morning we watched a continuous flow of walkers heading past the window on the route to the mountain. There are numerous tracks around the area and it would be easy to take the wrong track inadvertently as they all seem to criss cross.
We set out on the track in fine weather and climbed steadily through a valley towards Red Tarn (Lake) in the corrie below Helvellyn. The top of Helvellyn at 3,016 feet is reached by a short scramble over the rocks of Swirral Edge. I bypassed some of the scramble and found myself on a dangerously eroded path with a steep side which was indeed less safe than following the crest of the rocks and scrambling so I quickly retraced my steps on the path and climbed onto the top of the rock. It is often the case that by pass paths are far more dangerous than scrambling over the rock.
From Helvellyn, we extended the walk to Dollywaggon Pike which is on the ridge and gave good views over to Helvellyn. One of the reasons for choosing Helvellyn to walk was to scramble over Striding Edge which is the narrow rocky ridge descending to the valley. We looked down on Striding Edge and could see a constant stream of walkers crossing the rocks in both directions. We returned to the summit of Helvellyyn and descended onto Striding Edge where we had to queue on occasions to scramble over the rock. It was fine weather and the rock was dry so the scramble was easy and walking on the airy ridge very enjoyable.
The rocks eventually peter out and there is a good path down to Glenridding to a very nice pub for a well deserved beer. The weather was so good, we even sat outside for the refreshment. It was a walk of a few miles back to the hostel for dinner and to relax with a glass or two of wine and discuss the fascinating subject of the origins of Polari. Do you know what it is? A clue is the now defunct radio programme of Round the Horn.
The next day we headed for the Langdale Pikes where I walked up the easy route but some others lead by Roy with his 'Scrambles in the Lake District' book tackled the scramble up to Pike of Stickle and surprisingly were the only people on the route. I had a very pleasant extended lunch break waiting for the scramblers and then we all continued over the Langdale Pikes to Stickle Tarn descending by the path at Dungeon Ghill adjacent to the waterfalls to the start of the walk.
Coming Attractions; Braemar and the Lairig Ghru
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Thanks to Frances Rickus for the photos