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Helvellyn – England’s Third Highest Mountain

Arriving at the Ullswater car park early in the morning, you can just about catch the sun rising above Place Fell mountain. This shines over the village of Glenridding as other hikers prepare for the long journey ahead in the same car park. Once you are ready and have paid the all-day parking cost, you can begin your adventure hiking towards the summit of Helvellyn Mountain.

Sunrise over Place Fell mountain viewed from Glenridding

There is a road right between a corner shop and a signpost leading hikers to Helvellyn itself. This road leads to two paths veering off to the left and right. Although the path on the right takes slightly longer, it passes the Gillside Camping site, where wild campers wake up to prepare for the long day ahead. It is a campsite on a slightly longer route to Helvellyn, although it helps to get your steps in so that you are geared up for the extensive elevation.

Sure enough, an encounter with a kissing gate marks the beginning of the elevation up to Helvellyn Mountain. Continuous stone steps present themselves as you climb further and further, making it seem like you are forever climbing them. As you climb up, you will cross a stream flowing downwards back towards the campsite, which was passed previously.

The stream flowing down the mountain back to the village

The stone steps then continue upward, and opportunities to stop for a few minutes present themselves. It will be worth doing if you want to stop and admire the view back towards Glenridding village and beyond. These views provide picturesque beauty and are worthy of taking pictures on either your phone or a proper camera if you have one.

After spending time admiring this view, adventuring further upwards will lead you to a long stone wall. It resembles the Lake District’s short version of the Great Wall of China and is aligned with the continuing incline. Sticking to the right of this wall and continuing the hike upwards, the path eventually takes a right turn towards Birkhouse Moor and a rock resembling The Lion King’s pride rock. It’s another good spot for those wanting to take more landscape pictures.

The route then loops around to face Helvellyn’s destination. A few marshland lakes are visible to the right, one of which has a tiny island in the centre of it. Slight uphill stretches are then encountered, but none as significant as what was just faced. As you hike further, with another stone wall to the left, the views of Helvellyn Mountain and the Striding Edge slowly come into view.

A view of Helvellyn's summit in the distance

The decision comes around again as the path splits off into two directions. For those wanting to tackle the Striding Edge, the left path will grant them this wish. Soon, the path becomes much more rockier to climb, and careful steps are required to ensure that you step either up or down correctly.

The view looking over towards Helvellyn's summit

Each step taken may feel more challenging than the last one. However, there is an area after Striding Edge where you can stop for a few moments and look back at the view. One challenging hurdle down, another one to go, one which will get you to the summit of Helvellyn Mountain.

This is no doubt the steepest climb on the whole hike. Each step taken on the rocks gets you closer to the end goal of Helvellyn's summit. Each step again requires time and consideration, especially when there is firm snow as the final obstacle to tackle (depending on the time of year, of course). After tackling this final hurdle, the summit of Helvellyn presents itself, as well as a well-deserved break for lunch with a bird's-eye view of the landscape.

Some of the landscape visible from the summit of Helvellyn

You will be surrounded by other hikers celebrating their efforts paying off in reaching Helvellyn’s summit. There is also a wide range of photo spots for you to use to snap some shots of the gorgeous view. After spending a period of time enjoying your break, heading back down the mountain is slightly more manageable. The main reason is thanks to the cairns, which de-escalate you towards Lower Man and Whiteside.

Sure, there are still some slight uphill climbs; however, most of this hike is on a downhill slope. After some time strolling downhill, you will reach a four-way junction at Sticks Pass, where a right turn will lead you back towards Glenridding village. The path eventually becomes much narrower as the decline towards the village continues. Various waterfalls can be spotted along the way, both big and small, as well as small flocks of sheep relaxing and watching passers-by.

The view heading back down towards Glenridding

The route crosses several streams of water flowing down towards Glenridding from the waterfalls encountered. It then proceeds through an open area, where a left turn will direct you towards the YHA hostel based in the same area as Helvellyn. Before this, however, the path takes a zigzag approach to get to this hostel. After tackling these zigzags, the hostel is in sight, as is the end of the hike for those staying there.

For other hikers, however, there Is still one final stretch to be tackled to make it back to Glenridding. All it takes is a walk along the driveway from the hostel, a right baring followed by a second left baring, and a final push towards the end of the route. The Traveller’s Rest Inn for an even more rewarding end-of-hike pint. There is then a short stroll back to the car park, the beacon for the hike’s beginning point.

The Traveller's Rest Inn, situated at the end of the route

So ends the adventure up a challenging yet staggering mountain in the Lake District. While it isn’t the highest mountain in this National Park, it is undoubtedly one with enough challenges for those with plenty of hiking experience. It is also a fantastic way to practise tackling higher mountains in the Lake District or any other stunning national park in England.

The Travelling Foodie’s Facts and Figure

  • The car park which you can use for this hike is the one on which the Ullswater Information Centre is based. It costs £8.50 to park there for a full 24 hours.

  • You can Click Here to use the map I followed for this hike. Other hikes for Helvellyn Mountain are available should you wish to take an easier route.

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