Helvellyn (via Glenridding)

In the ‘PS’ to my previous blog, I claimed to have detected the onset of an ‘Indian summer’. Unfortunately, conditions since then have shown that my prognosis was somewhat over-optimistic! However, most of the day of this walk provided a brief glimmer of ideal early autumn conditions - sunny, clear, breezy (but not too much so), and cool, thus enabling the magnificent views that Helvellyn affords to be enjoyed at something approaching their best.
Another memorable aspect to this outing (for me) was that it completed my ascent of all the main fells that form the largest continuous mass of high ground in Lakeland. This is the chain of tops that extends along the western side of Patterdale and Ullswater from Red Screes to Clough Head. The only missing part of the jigsaw was Helvellyn Lower Man, which was duly broached on this walk, during the last part of the ascent to Helvellyn’s main summit.
In addition, if ever there was a ‘seniors’’ route up Helvellyn from its eastern slopes, then this is it! Despite its length and height, the going is on well-graded, relatively smooth paths throughout, and so the after-effects (and the ‘during’ ones as well, for that matter!) are a good deal less severe than for many another shorter and lower walk. Even better is to begin and end the walk, as I did, from near the old Greenside lead mine just above Glenridding, thereby cutting out several hundred feet of ascent and descent over a couple of additional relatively tedious miles.
The first part was up via the old miners’ sled-way to the erstwhile mine ‘flue’ (i.e., water channel), then branching off from its ruined chimney at the base of Raise summit to join the old pony route from Keppel Cove near its intersection with the Raise-White Side path. Turning left here, the route continued on over White Side, up Helvellyn Lower Man (at last!), and from there to the Helvellyn summit area. The return was by the same route (alternatives via either Swirral or Striding Edge not really being feasible with a dog of Sooty’s small size in tow, unfortunately - well, not unless you’re willing to carry him, which, much as I love him, I certainly wasn’t, this being seniors’ walk, after all!).
Magnificent views of the two aforementioned ridges were afforded from the summit area, and good panoramas of all the other fells nearby were also available for much of the rest of the walk, especially Catstycam, which acts as a sort of ‘sentry guard’ from beginning to end, viewed first from the north more distantly and then, later and ever closer, from the west and southwest. In short, as will by now hopefully be clear, a memorable day out on one of our grandest mountains, Indian summer or no Indian summer!
Highest point (Helvellyn): 3118 ft./ 950 m. Distance: 7.58 miles/ 12.2 km. Ascent: 2855 ft./ 870 m.

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