Written on 02/04/18 by Paul Oldham

Walking the High Fells

With April upon us and the Easter weekend coming to a close you might think that by now the high fells like Helvellyn and Scafell Pike were good places to walk up for a strenuous outing. This year however things are a bit different as we still have snow on the tops with more heavy snow forecast to fall today.

Make no mistake this isn't benign snow either. Snow may be fun in your back garden but in the hills it can be lethal as several people have found in the Lake District this winter. Indeed only two weeks ago a walker fell 60m down a snow slope by Browncove Craggs on Helvellyn and did not survive his injuries.

Between slippy conditions, snow cornices, avalanches, and white outs walking in snow is not for the inexperienced.

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Ever got caught in a white out? We have. Not easy condition to navigate in.

Unsurprisingly those who try to keep us all from harm are worried. Last Thursday Patterdale MRT spoke of their concern about people tackling Helvellyn over Easter after it was featured by Julia Bradbury in her recent programme Britain's Best Walks. They said:

Helvellyn should only be attempted by those who have the experience, skills and knowledge to tackle this mountain in winter.

Please do keep an eye on the forecast and the felltop reports and make good decisions to keep yourselves safe.

Please do share this in the hope that those who are not equipped or experienced choose more appropriate routes this weekend.

The fell top reports they are talking about there come from the Lake District Fell Top Assessors who walk up Helvellyn every day through the winter to review the conditions and then post about them. They're a vital resource if you're considering a winter climb in the high fells.

They should have stopped today but given the state of the tops they announced on Twitter on Saturday that they are now going to continue at least until the end of this week (and if you're in any doubt just look at the conditions shown in that photo!):

As for "equipped or experienced" as mentioned by Patterdale MRT that means crampons and an ice axe and knowing how to use it so if you think you would like to go walking in the snow it's worth booking yourself on a winter skills course next winter. We can personally recommend Glenmore Lodge at the foot of Cairn Gorm in Scotland but Plas y Brenin in Snowdonia also run courses.

Anyway don't be downhearted. One of the nice things about the Lakes is there are all sorts of excellent walks to be had, both high and low. So for now concentrate on the low level ones and you should come to much harm. You can find lots of suggestions on our walks pages.

Tagged: safety, walks

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WalkLakes recognises that hill walking, or walking in the mountains, is an activity with a danger of personal injury or death.
Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.