Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn from Swirls - The Thirlmere Side.

May 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Hello folks... Its been a while!
I have been very busy with work this year and havent really had much time to sit and put words to my blog. But I have still been out hiking, both alone and with family,  and I have racked up quite a lot of miles so far in 2017. 86 miles and 30'100ft of ascent in fact, as I was looking at my 2017 summary today on Suuntos website. So, I have lots of image editing and typing to do.

I have chosen this route to do first as it harvested some of the better images and memories... many of this years trips have been in bad weather, and who wants to look at pictures of rain and cloud?

Back in April, Steph and I decided to visit Helvellyn via the Thirlmere side. This route is Ideal for anyone wanting to avoid the notorious Striding and Swirrel edge aretes. Steph and I both love ridge walks, but we wanted to tackle Helvellyns neighbours too, and thats easier from Swirls really.


On this trip we will visit the summits of:

  • Dollywagon Pike (2'815 ft) 
  • High Crag (2'900 ft) 
  • Nethermost Pike (2'923 ft) 
  • Helvellyn (3'117 ft) 


Parking Location:

  • Swirls Car Park - CA12 4TW. (pay and display)


Time & Distance Info

  • Distance walked: = 9.8 miles
  • Time Taken: = 7.5 hrs
  • Total Ascent: = 3'210 ft


Please Note:
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But that is the way I like to do it... perhaps because I am odd?


This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking Anti-clockwise from the top left)


And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking Anti-clockwise from the top left)


Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)


Steph and I left Blackpool at 7am and after a breakfast stop were parked up in Swirls car park for about 10am.
One of the joys of this route is that it has a very long 3+ mile walk in that takes you along a nice forest track. Perfect for warming the legs up.

And when you need to stop for a breather... the views across Thirlmere are incredible!


The weather today is excellent. How beautiful does Dunmail Raise and Steel fell look today?


Looking back towards High Crags. We took about an hour to walk from Swirls to Dunmail Raise.


Only to reach a curveball... The Raise Beck footbridge is out.


We walk upstream and find a crossing place no bother, and then its hard upwards all the way. The hard work really begins here.


If you like becks and waterfalls, Raise Beck has to be one of the best stretches in lakeland as you follow this beauty all the way to the top at Grisedale Tarn.


This shot of Steph offers some scale perspective.


The view backwards to Dunmail Raise and Steel Fell.


At the top there is a little bit of respite for the burning legs as the route flattens out a little... It is very welcome indeed!


And then as your starting to relax and get your breath back - The great reveal at 1800+ft!
Grisedale Tarn and Fairfield.


We enjoyed slowly walking that section, just enjoying being there in great weather.
Looking back as we start the next ascent upwards, Seat Sandal looks wonderful behind the tarn.


A panorama was called for here when we stopped to snack and drink halfway up... Fairfield to Seat Sandal.


Suitably refreshed, we head upwards. The pull up to Dollywagon Pike is a hard one.


But as always... The hard work brings rewards. What a view back to Place Fell and Ullswater.


The views all around are great today, we have been extremely lucky with the weather.


Onwards to a bonus Birkett summit. High Crag.


I love this image of Steph here. I love hiking with Steph, these memories will last me until long after my legs can no longer bring me up here.


And its a great summit view from the top too. I have never walked in that valley, which is something I aim to rectify having now seen it from above.


Nethermost Pike up ahead...


St Sunday and Birks look great from this side too.


Looking across to Harrop Tarn.


And onwards for the final ascent of the day. The slog up to Englands third highest mountain. Helvellyn.


The view across to Striding Edge. As you can see, its a rubbish place to fall off!


As you approach Helvellyn summit there is a memorial to the artist Charles Gough who died on Striding edge. Legend has it that he lay there undiscovered for three months and was found by a shepherd who went to investigate the sound of a dog barking and found the mans skeleton with its skull split in two from the fall. The newspapers reported that the dog had eaten his remains to stay alive, whilst at the same time staying by his masters side. Nobody will ever know the truth I guess.


We stopped off here for 20 mins and just watched folk come and go while we ate and drank.


When we finally moved on, there were a lot of folk descending via Swirral edge.


Lower man ahead, we will be bearing left just before we reach the top of it.


The view of Catstye cam from the north.


We head for Browncove Crags and Thirlmere finally comes back into view. We are parked right at the northern end of it.


What a view. What a day!


This chap made a great image. He can see right up to Bassenthwaite from here.


This path descends steeply and drops us back behind Highpark Wood. Its a steep and fast descent, bringing us right back into swirls car park.


And that was the end of another fabulous day in the fells. Writing this one has got me geared up to write some more, so watch this space as I have quite a few more to write up.


Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch. 
Calories etc are pretty accurate as I use the Suunto Smart heart monitor on all my hikes. GPS data is updated every 1 second so it records every single footstep, thus mileage often looks a little different to most navigation apps as they are usually set to update far less frequently and so miss a few turns here and there. All that wandering around looking at views adds up.    


Here is my Viewranger data.
VR members can sign in and view it on OS maps too. Feel free to scroll around, the map is active.


Finally, here is a 3D representation of the route created by Suunto Movescount.


Author's footnote.
The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured. When it stops being fun, turn back and go home. Above all, remember the golden rules:

1) "Getting to the top is optional - Getting back down is mandatory"

2) "Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


Camera Details:
All images in this blog that don't state they were taken on my phone, were taken with my little pocket-sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worthy of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.


Route Completed on April 2nd 2017 - With Steph Sanderson.

New Wainwrights: 2. New total: 174 of 214.
New Birketts: 3. New total 220 of 541.


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