6th December 2008

Walking in a winter wonderland - Helvellyn from Dunmail Raise


Walk Overview
Time 09.05 to 14.30
Duration 5 hr 25 min
Distance 7.6 mile
Ascent 3000 ft
Walking with On my own
Dunmail Raise - Raise Beck - Grisedale Tarn - Dollywaggon Pike - High Crag - Nethermost Pike - Helvellyn - Whelpside Gill - Birkside - Permissive Path above A591 to Dunmail Raise
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside, top of Dunmail Raise

There is lots of available parking along this stretch of road, and just as well. Anyone who has driven over Dunmail Raise will have noticed how many cars form the line on each side of the road. I'm tempted to say that this is somewhere you'll never fail to get a space. Simply leave your car at the end of the line.


Route Map

Morning sunshine on an icy Dunmail Raise.

And looking in the opposite direction down the road.

The view up the side of Raise Beck, and what a treat this was. I don't normally plan walks more than a day or so in advance, but it was last Saturday that I decided to walk up here. As I was driving home after the walk on Fairfield, I looked up and thought "it's been years since I went up there, so yes, all being well I'll come back next Saturday." And here I am; what I didn't expect was to be walking in snow two weekends in a row, so as I say, this was real treat, as was the whole walk.

Not a very good picture I know, but this one was taken nearer the top of the beck.

Up in the sunshine and looking across to Fairfield behind Grisedale Tarn.

Now this is what winter walking should be like.

It doesn't look too steep from here does it, but looks can be deceptive. So considering the number of times I've been up and down here, I should have known better than to try it with 'this type of' snow on the ground. It was just so tiring, with every footstep braking through the top crust of snow, progress was reduced to a snails pace. In fact, if you look at the map you can see where I said "enough is enough" and I headed across to the top of the zig-zags below Dollywaggon Pike.

Spindrift dancing across the fellside.

Did someone say this was steep.


A winter landscape.

Walking up to High Crag.

One of a group of skiers that I kept bumping into ( not literally, but you know what I mean ) between Raise Beck and Helvellyn. The rest of the group can be seen further along the ridge.

Nethermost Pike.

I couldn't begin to work out how many times I've walked across this ridge, and even though I still know where exactly where the path is in these conditions, when the snow builds up like this, working out where the rock ends and the overhanging snow begins is far too much of a guessing game for my liking, so it's best not to get too close. It really is a case of, one step too far and it's the end of you or me in this case.

I hope those things have brakes or decent steering at least.

More overhanging snow.

Nethermost Pike's summit.

And again.

Helvellyn Summit with Catstye Cam, Ullswater and the Pennines behind.

Looking back along the Helvellyn ridge.

I thought the whole area around the summit would have been packed while I was here, but apart from a number of people starting to gather around the shelter, it was still pleasantly quiet. However, I could see plenty of people heading in this direction. So, wishing to stay on my own for a while longer, I decided to take an off path route from the summit down to Whelpside Gill, and then across to the Birk Side Path.

Another photo looking towards Carstye cam, Ullswater and the Pennines taken from the summit, this one also has a vary dark looking Red Tarn in the picture.

Walking on the moon !

The snow was much deeper down here; quite a lot of it being above knee depth. I know it made for difficult walking, but thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was nice to walk from Helvellyn summit to Birk Side without seeing anyone else.

A wonderful sense of seclusion below Helvellyn.

The large sheepfold near the path on Birk Side.

Comb Crags / Birk Side.

What a nice end to the walk.


David Hall -
Lake District Walks