A gentle warm up through the woods above Thirlmere Reservoir before climbing into the mountains means we avoid much of the bustle and scrambling on Striding and Swirrel Edges. Still a serious mountain walk, it is not especially difficult or arduous.
Although there are many options, we will start from the pay and display car park at Swirls near the north end of the Helvellyn ridge. You may decide to park at Wythburn Church car park, or at the top of the pass at Dunmail Raise. They are all good start points.
In case you wonder why some photos on this walk are obviously in bright sunshine, and others very misty, they were taken on two different trips.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Nethermost Pike, High Crag (Grisedale), Helvellyn Lower Man, Helvellyn, and Dollywaggon Pike; and includes 3 Wainwrights, 1 Furth, 5 Birketts, 4 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, 2 Hewitts, 1 HuMP, 1 County Top - Historic, and 1 County Top - Current County and Unitary Authority.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Starting in the car park at Swirls, walk towards the road until you reach a gate on your left, go through the gate and onto the track. This track meanders through the woods above the road.
After approximately 1.5km (0.9 miles) walkers are directed to a footpath left of the track which then drops down towards the road. Officially the footpath is the right of way although it seems to be acceptable to remain on the track. The footpath is definitely more interesting.
Both rejoin and the track continues above Wythburn Church, and eventually exits the woods at Homesdale Green Bridge where it turns sharp right to go back to the road. Here we continue straight ahead, signposted Grasmere, through a kissing gate. Go through the gate and over the bridge into the field. Follow the path alongside the wall to your right.
Approaching Dunmail Raise the path jinks closer to the road.
At the top of the pass is a wall with signpost pointing up Raise Beck, go through the gate and turn left to ascend the right hand side of the beck. Occasionally a wall appears on our side of the beck and it seems easier to be above it on the right hand side.
Eventually Grisedale Tarn comes into view. Staying high, contour round the left hand side of the tarn on a soft grass path to the engineered steps heading up the southern slopes of Dollywaggon Pike. As you ascend the steps, the views back down to the tarn are fantastic.
Nearing the top the path bears left missing the summit, so bear right following the rim of the crags and head over higher ground to the cairn at the summit of Dollywaggon Pike.
From the summit cairn do not continue down the narrow ridge in front of you, marked on the map as The Tongue. Instead retrace your steps a little and then bear right to continue on the original path.
The path also misses the summits of High Crag and Nethermost Pike so you may want to veer off to visit them too. Nethermost Pike is rather flat topped with a couple of cairns, the highest of which is not easy to determine.
Continue on to Helvellyn summit, the path passes a monument stone to the nearby landing of an aircraft! Alternatively follow the rim of the crags for the views of Striding and Swirral Edges.
From the summit rejoin the wide path now heading north west towards Lower Man, a path bears right to its cairn. From the cairn do not continue ahead, but retrace your steps again to rejoin the wide cairned path and continue northwest to the top of Browncove Crags.
Continue down Browncove Crags, the zigzag path is steep, rough, and surprisingly tiring. Follow it back down to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|High Tove and Armboth Fell from Thirlmere||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|The Dodds and Clough Head, via Sticks Pass and St John's in the Vale||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Raven Crag and Castle Crag beside Thirlmere||2.4km (1.5 miles) away|
|Great How||2.7km (1.6 miles) away|
|High Rigg, Naddle Fell, and Wren Crag||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Birk Crag, Harrop Tarn and Blea Tarn||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011