Friday, 26 August 2011

From Glennridding, up Striding Edge, on to Helvellyn and down Swirral Edge

You’d think I’d learn wouldn’t you?  Once again I was tired through lack of sleep, but, not content with my last attempt to completely wear out every muscle in my body, we decided to have another go.  This time, the planned walk was to go up Striding Edge.
Glenridding Beck
I’ve heard about this one and I’ve seen the pictures.   But Peter assured me that it isn’t as bad as it looks.  Not only that, my boss tells me she’s been up there.  (She’s not a wuss, but she’s not stupid either, so it can’t be that bad.)
After rain all day Wednesday, I was dead chuffed to wake up to a gloriously clear day.  So we packed up camp, (our last day in Langdale), and drove to Glennridding.
From the car park, we started our walk by following Glenridding Beck, because it’s always nice to walk alongside the water, and I love the sound.  Then we turned left just past Gillside and started the climb.
To our right, and just behind us were the wonderful colours of  Sheffield Pike and the Glenridding Screes,
Glenridding Screes
The path we followed is easy, in as much as it’s clear with plenty of  stepping stones to prevent erosion, but it was steep, and tiring and I needed plenty of rest stops.  But it was such a lovely day, Peter’s camera couldn’t stop taking photo’s.  As always, the further you climb, the better the views.  With the air as clear as it was, we couldn’t go wrong.  We just kept following the path up through the Little Cove to Birkhouse Moor.  Behind us, more and more of Ullswater came into view.  It was all picture postcard and breathtaking.  (Actually, the steep path up the hill had already done a good job of taking my breathe away, but those views………. just glorious.)
Ullswater from just above Little Cove
Up on the moor, we continued on to the Hole in the Wall, Bleaberry Crag, Low Spying Howe and High Spying Howe.  A fantastic place to be in fantastic weather.  Striding Edge, Hellvellyn and Swirral Edge spread out before us, sort of like a giant seat. We were to walk along one arm, up the shoulder, across the back and then down the other side.
Left is Striding Edge, right is Swirral Edge, Helvellyn in the middle is the third highest peak in England
Striding Edge towards Helvellyn
The path levels out a bit, and walking on the Red Tarn comes into view on the right. Finally, we get to the reason for all the excitement and trepidation…… Striding Edge.

It looks pretty awesome, and difficult, but as you move along it, you realise it isn’t.  Many younger and more adventurous walkers were delighting in finding the trickiest path they could.  Peter and I chose to walk along the easier bits of rock.  Not on the “safe” path lower down alongside, but not scrambling over whatever was topmost either.  And it was actually quite fun, invigorating and bringing out the child in everyone, (including the children, who were doing what kids do naturally, climbing all over everything and no doubt frightening the life out of their parents).  All the way, the Red Tarn is on your right, looking surprisingly blue and good enough to dive into.
In no time at all, we were at the other end.  At this point there is a bit of a drop if you haven’t taken the path that runs alongside!  Me being me made it difficult for myself, but I got down eventually.  I did have to move aside for a couple of mountain goats disguised as lads.  How do they do that?  They must have crossed the edge in a couple of minutes, and were probably up on Hellvellyn before I’d even got to the foot of the climb.
Now, as I said, I knew about Striding Edge and I’ve seen the pictures.  But the next bit caught me off guard, i.e. the “scramble” up the shoulder of Hellvellyn.  The first part of the climb that presented itself to me looked far too steep, I couldn’t see how I was going to get up.  For a moment I was quite worried - until Peter pointed out a different route which looked easier.  Hey Ho, onwards and upwards.
Striding Edge from Helvellyn
Finally we got to the top, and what a very flat top it is.  Flat enough to land a plane apparently, as some guy proved in 1926.  After all that uphill walking and scrambling, the top of Helvellyn is so wonderfully, pleasantly flat.  The sun shone, the air was clear and we could see for miles.  I was back on top of the world again!  Time for a well earned bite to eat, a bit of a rest, and to take loads of photo’s.
From the top of Helvellyn.  We can see forever.......
Now I should mention at this point that the place was like Waterloo Station.  There were so many people including a group of kids out on some kind of church trip.  There were girls were wearing skirts and pumps and clambering up Helvellyn like it’s playtime in the local park, families, the occasional older man or woman, and hundreds of younger people, sort of early 20’s and 30’s, absolutely relishing the opportunity to climb everything.  Amazing!  Especially when you think that Striding Edge claims regular victims. Peter made a short video, Striding Edge walkers are about a minute in, and you have to scroll through photo's to get to video at the end:  Striding Edge Walk  
Swirral Edge from Helvellyn
And then it was down again.  I personally found the Helvellyn shoulder down to Swirral Edge much easier to deal with than the other side.  True, there was a lot of scree, and you had to be careful where you put your feet, but it seemed to shorter, and in no time at all we were on a nice easy path.

Our way home
Sadly, my camera battery ran out as we started to come down and I didn’t manage to get any pictures of the pretty stream or the old mine workings as we followed the route alongside Red Tarn and Glenridding Becks back to the town.  Shame, because the sun was beginning to lower, and the light was lovely.
And then there was our car ready to take us home.  Another challenging and tiring walk, but once again, looking back, I'm glad we've done it.  I think I might even want to do it again.

Info from Peter: Route & directions and Peter's journal entry

1 comment:

  1. Me first ever Lakes walk! great to see it all over again :) Thanks so much!

    Dave AJ