6th October 2007

Hard Tarn to Lanty's Tarn - via Helvellyn


Walk Overview
Time 09.40 to 16.10
Duration 6 hr 30 min
Distance 10.5 mile
Ascent 3560 ft
Walking with Andrew & Anne Leaney
Patterdale - Grisedale - Ruthwaite Lodge - Hard Tarn - Nethermost Pike - Helvellyn - Swirral Edge - Catstye Cam - Red Tarn - Birkhouse Moor - Lanty's Tarn - Patterdale
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, opposite Patterdale Hotel

I think I'm correct in saying that the hotel actually owns the car park, so needless to say there is a charge. Thankfully this is a daily charge and if I'm honest it is well worth the cost when you consider the fantastic selection of walk that can be undertaken from this spot.

It does tend to fill up rather quickly though, and not only during the summer months.


Route Map

Passing Patterdale church at the start of another perfect fell walking day.

Shafts of light streaming across Cofa Pike and Fairfield.

While our side (St Sunday Crag) of Grisedale Valley was in shade the area into which we were heading was enjoying some lovely morning sunshine.

Ruthwaite Lodge. From here we headed up the fellside behind the building and into the secluded Ruthwaite Cove.


Ruthwaite Cove.

One of the reasons for choosing this route was to ascend Nethermost Pike by its eastern ridge. The other reason was to visit Hard Tarn, which can be seen here, perched on its shelf high above Ruthwaite Cove. A more fitting name would have been Hard "to get to" Tarn.

And the tarn itself.

Then as we started to ascent the east ridge to Nethermost Pike, the route got really steep, with the need for four points of contact. Not a route I'd do in the wet.

Someone with an even better view than us.

Perhaps is wasn't as steep now that we'd reached the top section of the ridge, but the ridge itself had narrowed to give an experience more akin to its more famous and visibly more popular neighbour; Striding Edge.

Helvellyn and Catstye Cam seen from Nethermost Pike.

Red Tarn.
I'm not sure if this is a bit sad or funny or typical or even a shame, but of the dozens of people who were on Helvellyn at the same time as us, we were the only ones who visited the "actual" summit - the small cairn just above the cross shelter, not the trig point which seemed to be the focus of everyone's attention. I know the true summit is a mere 1 meter higher then the trig point, but, if as I suspect, the majority of the visitors were here to "bag" Helvellyn then that meter makes all the difference.

It also stuck out like a sore thumb that so many of the people who emerged from their trip across Striding Edge were, to say the least, under equipped and under experienced. It seems quite ironic that people are prepared to risk life and limb to reach Hellvellyn and then when they get there they don't bother to visit the top, which is actually the safe bit. It's a bit like driving your car at 120 mph (with the kids in the back) through a busy town or city to get to the shops; then when you get there you don't bother leaving the car park. Of course everyone we saw on Striding Edge would think driving like that would be too dangerous and definitely not worth risking their lives and especially not their children's. So why do ordinary, intelligent people refuse to acknowledge that people really do die on the fells every year. Now that we all live in a culture where health & safety has apparently gone mad and is at the forefront of everything we do, it's astonishing that people continue to put themselves in this kind of danger.

Obviously I can't say this to people, but Striding Edge (and indeed many other of the more adventurous routes) are fine, however, get some experience on the fells first. If people really want to get to the top of the bigger fells there's usually a much easier and much safer option. Is the thrill really worth the risk?

Heading down Swirral Edge towards Catstye Cam.
The top section of Swirral Edge was so wet and slippery today, with a lot of extra care needed to keep you firmly in place. It was also becoming noticeably more eroded. Once we got across to the sunny side of the fell however, all was dry and the going was much easier.

Raise and its zig-zag path seen from Catstye Cam summit.
After leaving an overcrowded Helvellyn it was nice to reach Catstye Cam and have the summit to ourselves.

Birkhouse Moor seen from a somewhat dry looking Red Tarn outflow (Red Tarn Beck).

Considering the amount of people on Helvellyn today, Red Tarn was almost deserted and really quite peaceful.

Catstye Cam.

Following the wall across to Birkhouse Moor, but where has everyone gone.

Looking back to Helvellyn with Striding Edge on the left and Swirral Edge / Catstye Cam on the right.

What a gorgeous day! More like Summer than Summer was.

Ullswater and Glenridding.

Reflections in Lanty's Tarn.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks