Helvellyn, the Raise Beck Ascent.

Start. Dunmail Raise.

Route. Dunmail Raise - Raise Beck - Grisedale Taen - Dollywaggon Pike - High Crag - Nethermost Pike - Helvellyn - Birk Side - Comb Gill - Homesdale Green - Dunmail Raise.

Notes. This is a walk that's been on the radar for ages, hidden in the dark recesses of my hard drive, it was next on the to-do list, and a glorious day I picked to-do it. Steeped in legend the 782ft stepping stone of Dunmail Raise was my starting point. Folk-law tells of a bloody battle fought on the pass between Norse king Dunmail the last king of Cumberland and the joint forces of Malcolm king of Scotland, and the Saxon king of England Edmund, old Dunmail was slain, his body laid to rest under a large pile of stones that can still be seen between the twin carriageways of the A591, two of his followers being ordered to take the gold crown of Cumberland and cast it into the dark waters of Grisedale Tarn, it was their likely route I followed into the hills.

I parked on Dunmail Raise, the large lay-by was almost full but there was still plenty of room on the grass verge, a number of stiles allowed access to the fell, I made my choice, crossed the fence then headed north, faint paths guided me to the deep ravine cut by Raise Beck, on a good path I started my ascent. Hemmed in by the steep slopes of Seat Sandal and Willie Wife Moor the many cascades, water chutes and plunge pools of Raise Beck accompanied me into the hills, and this route certainly feels like a walk into the hills, not just onto them. The delightful climb over, like a cork from a bottle I popped out on the moors above Grisedale Tarn, the steep unforgiving slopes of Dollywaggon Pike yet to climb. To the north end of the tarn a good path winds it's way up the steep slopes, I made my way over, sat down, had a brew, took a few photos before starting the climb. Onwards and upwards stopping every so often to admire the stunning views, a good excuse for a breather, the climb over a well trod path headed north under the ridge line, for me the route was the ridge line, I left the path to summit Dollywaggon Pike before starting the long walk north.

Here's a Carlo tip, on nice days like today leave the main trod and crowds, the views are limited to the west, walk the ridge line to enjoy stunning panoramas in all directions, plunging cliffs, secluded coves, tiny tarns like mirrors reflecting the morning sun, streams duck and dive as they tumble down the fell side, Lakeland at it's very best. So I followed my own advice crossing Dollywaggon Pike, High Crag then Nethermost Pike before the climb to Helvellyn, above the coves of Cock, Ruthwaite and Nethermost, dwarfed were the cliffs of Calf Hole and Swallow Scarth, I finally crossed Lad Crag to reach Helvellyn itself. I hung around, have you ever noticed Helvellyn has a strange smell about it, you will now, a bit like an old house, I've noticed it many times, it hung over the summit today.

Time to bid farewell to stunning views and rocky ridges, my descent started almost immediately, following the main path south I descended to the coll above Swallow Scarth, three paths meet here, I walked in on the left hand one, my descent was to be over Birk Side, the right hand path. With a good path under foot I wandered down hill, above High Crags and Comb Crags before the path plunged into the Comb, I then entered extensive pine forest. I descended in the cool of the trees, on reaching the forest track a finger-post, the first today invited me to Dunmail Raise, I obliged, when the track swung sharp right another sign directed me to Grasmere, across two wooden footbridges I strolled, the waters of Birkside Gill plunging under my feet, guided by the intake wall I started the short walk back to Dunmail Raise.

view route map.


Looking south across the steep slopes of Seat Sandal.

Better known as The Lion and the Lamb, Helm Crag seen across the Pass of Dunmail Raise.

The many cascades and cataracts of Raise Beck guided me into the hills, the shadow, Seat Sandal across the steep gill scarred slopes of Steel Fell.

Ascending in the company of the cascading rapids and plunge pools of a tumbling Lakeland stream.....

.....then I'm out onto the moors into the wonderful golden hues of a Lakeland morning.

Rising high above Grisedale Tarn, Seat Sandal.

It's glorious up here today, the morning sun above Cofa Pike with the dark mass of Fairfield rising to the right.

Looking back to the unnamed coll, my gateway into this vast bowl of mountains.

From the slopes of Dollywaggon Pike, Great Rigg as seen over Grisedale Hause.

Above Cock Cove on the approach to Dollywaggon Pike, viewing St Sunday Crag with Place Fell on the far horizon.

The blue/grey hills of Lakeland, seen through Deepdale Hause, Hartsop above How and the cliffs of Greenhow End backed by the High Street massif.

Taking a breather on Dollywaggon Pike looking to Place Fell.

Spectacular views from Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike in the company of Striding Edge, Helvellyn and the pyramid like Catstye Cam.

As seen from the summit of High Crag, Helvellyn.

Catstye Can seen over the infamous bad step marking the end, or beginning of Striding Edge depending on your chosen route.

A stunning view across Nethermost Cove taking in St Sunday Crag and Birks.

A frightening look at a slice of the picturesque, the knife like ridge of Striding Edge.

Soaking up the views, enjoying the solitude of Helvellyn's summit ridge, eerily devoid of people for a change.

Ahead is Nethermost Pike and today's route off the hill, the right hand path.

On Birk Side with stunning views over Thirlmere to little Harrop Tarn.

This cairn above Comb Crags provides fine views down Thirlmere.

This walk certainly has it all, tumbling streams, airy ridges, rocky coves and tranquil tarns, a slice of history and to end the day a cool stroll through pine forest.

The way ahead and the trees get taller.

Through the trees, Thirlmere.

The final shot of the day, appropriately my ascent route, Raise Beck.

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