Some routes are so popular they blind you to other possibilities. Climbing to the top of Helvellyn by Striding Edge is one such route. Who has not seen the classic photograph of this dramatic arête and not wanted to traverse it. Earlier this year on a Norwest Fellwalking Club outing to Glenridding I suggested to Andy, David and Visi that we walk this classic route. David modified the proposal with a descent from Dollywaggon Pike by The Tongue a spur like feature leading down towards Grisedale. Andy studied the map. He hadn’t been keen on Striding Edge to begin with having crossed it many times. “Let’s go up by The Tongue.” This was the genesis of what was one of the most exhilarating mountain expedition I have done in a while. The most remarkable aspect of it was that while the spring sunshine had brought out the crowds for the hour and a half we scaled Dollywaggon Pike we had that part of the Lake District to ourselves completely surrounded by stupendous mountain scenery.
Distance: 11 miles 18k
Grade: Strenuous. The route from Ruthwaite Climbing Hut to the summit of Dollywaggon Pike makes this a serious mountain expedition. Readers should not attempt it unless proficient in navigational skills.
There now commences a three mile walk taking you through a beautiful valley along a route that is easy to walk and easy to navigate taking you to Ruthwaite Climbing Hut. The first half mile is on tarmac but after the sign for Striding Edge indicating right
the way downgrades itself to a farm track. After the farm complex of Elmhow an isolated barn
marks the start of a more rugged track. A mile further on this dips down to cross Grisedale Beck by way of a wooden bridge and then climbs quite steeply to Ruthwaite Climbing Hut.
Given what is to come it may be a good time to take a breather, enjoy the magnificent view of the way you came and closely study the map to assure yourself about the next part of the walk.
After a great deal of effort you will arrive close the end of a rocky spur leading down from the summit.
Once on it the way to the top is obvious and easy.
Continue upwards to re-join civilisation and the merry crowds on route to Helvellyn.
The character of the walk changes completely on these sunlit uplands as you commence one of the finest ridge walks this country has to offer.
From Dollywaggon Pike bear right on a broad track that after crossing High Crag continues to Nethermost Pike which at a shade under 3000ft (2920ft) is the 9th highest fell in the Lake District. From here the way up to Helvellyn might be compared to a six lane motorway especially after the approach by which you have come. The summit is adorned by a shelter, a platform with cairn
and a little further on the trig point.
and then Whiteside
to reach a broad col where a well-defined path breaks to the right.
This will take you
unerringly to the hostelries and fleshpots of Glenridding.
Well perhaps not fleshpots. Once on the main road in the village turn right for Patterdale.