Helvellyn via Swirral Edge, Lake District, Cumbria.
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Map: OS Explorer OL5 - The English Lakes, North Eastern Area
The walk starts in the Glenridding village along Greenside Road, passing the Gillside Farm Camp Site, tracks around Birkhouse Moor as it follows Glenridding Beck passing the disused mine, then a steep and strenuous uphill trek to Red Tarn. The tarn is set against the spectacular horseshoe backdrop of Helvellyn which sits between Swirral Edge and Striding Edge. This is a great place for a picnic.
If Helvellyn is not on the cards, then follow the path to the left which follows the ridge and back to Glenridding. Before continuing on to Helvellyn, from the path leading up to Swirral Edge it is worth taking a little excursion up to the cairn at Catstye Cam at 890m above sea level.
Then back track to negotiate Swirral Edge, where care and concentration is needed along the crest, that involves a bit of a hands on scramble over the rocky knoll, before arriving at on the Helvellyn plateau at (3080 feet/940m above sea level). Where there is an OS trig point and a stone cross shelter. It can get very windy on the plateau, it is worth checking the weather forecast. When leaving the plateau again concentration and care needs to be taken requiring a bit of hands on scramble down the rocky knoll of Striding Edge, especially on the narrow path along the crest, which is very exposed. There is a side track that is slightly less exposed running along the inside (northern edge) of the horseshoe. The paths can become very congested with families and dogs, but there are plenty of passing places.
The walk is truly magical in winter when snow is laid around, but ice axe and crampons are essential safety equipment along with knowing how to use them correctly.
The path then follows Bleaberry Crag to the Hole in the Wall, over Birkhouse Moor before descending along Mires Beck downstream through Little Cove along the steep stepped pathway, with pleasant views over Ullswater and back into the village.
This is a very popular route, often encountering walkers with their dogs and young children. The walk starts in Glenridding by Ullswater.
There is plenty of parking space at the car park at the Glenridding Visitor Centre which has shop, weather information and toilet facilities (payment required). Car parking fees are paid on exit. The system reads your car number plate on entry, the fee is then calculated on the length of your stay and paid into the meter before exiting the car park.