A classic round of the two Wainwrights of Birkhouse Moor and Catstye Cam often includes Striding and Swirrel Edges, but for some folk the sustained scrambling is a bit too much and they also make for a long day which is not always available. Here is a shorter route which includes the two fells and also visits the picturesque Lanty's Tarn, and Red Tarn which is set between the edges in a dramatic glacial corrie.
The walk starts in Glenridding, passes the village hall and climbs up to Lanty's Tarn. Then, in a slight departure to the typical, we take a direct line up to Birkhouse Moor following a dry stone wall for much of the way. This gives wonderful views back to the village and Ullswater. There are two tops, as the path reaches the ridgeline; the shorter top is not far to the right and worth a short stroll: it feels like it should be the summit. Returning to the wall which goes directly over the highest point and therefore the official summit it is marked by a squat collection of stones. Keeping our companion wall for a bit longer to the iconic Hole-in-the-Wall we then take a well maintained path across the moorland to Red Tarn.
Catstye Cam, or as Wainwright refered to it "Catstycam", is the imposing triangular termination of Swirrel Edge and has a reputation for attracting lightening so if visiting it in a storm watch out and don't linger! The path from Red Tarn up to Swirrel Edge and then along to the summit is a straightforward walk. The summit is at a confluence of three paths, the recommended descents are either the simple retracing of one's steps, or down the east shoulder where there is a clear if steep path. Dropping down Red Tarn Beck the path is rough in places but otherwise well maintained. And the last bit back to Glenridding is along the base of Birkhouse Moor following the line of a water race from when the area was busy with heavily industrialised mine workings.
Red Tarn is home to a small population of the Schelly which is a rare freshwater white fish which is only found in a few tarns in the Lake District and the Arctic.
Lanty's Tarn was named in the 18th century after the owner Lancelot Dobson, Lanty being a lakeland diminutive of Lancelot. It was later owned by the Marshall family of Patterdale Hall, now an outdoor education centre, who enlarged the natural tarn by damming its outflow and used it for fishing. In winter ice was collected and stored in a nearby ice house for use in summer.
There is parking in the centre of Glenridding in the Lake District National Park Authority pay and display car park and at the Ullswater Steamers car park, where cheap rates in the winter months may be preferable.
Sometimes an autumn day starts with beautiful golden light... then the weather rolls in earlier than forecast. This was one of those days.
If you need accommodation we have details of 10 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the Lake District National Park Authority car park in Glenridding return to the main road, turn right to cross Glenridding Bridge. Turn right beside the shops into the lane alongside Glenridding Beck.
Pass the village hall and between the farm buildings, bear left at the signpost "Mires Beck" and "Helvellyn". At the cottages on the end of the lane do not go through the gate into the yard but turn left signposted "Lanty's Tarn" and "Helvellyn". Follow the path, turning right to reach the bottom of the stone pitched path climbing steeply to the gate at the top of the woodland.
Go through the kissing gate and follow the path as it traverses right to another gate. Don't go through, but turn up sharp left. At the top of the rise bear right to go through the kissing gate to the small Lanty's Tarn.
Follow the shoreline round to the right, noting the stand of trees to your right. At the end of the stand which is before the end of the tarn as the path bears left, turn right to follow a faint and slightly boggy path along the edge of the trees. At the top corner go through the gap in the wall on the right, and turn left to climb the tall ladder stile.
Follow the mainly grassy path alongside the wall to your left as it climbs in a number of mainly grass knolls to the meeting of the Mires Beck path.
After about 300m (330 yards) the path bears right away from the wall. Do not continue ahead alongside the wall please use the nice friendly path and so not contribute to erosion scars. In any case it gives great views down to Ullswater from its airy terrace.
Initially climbing a rough shallow gully the path soon formalises with the appearance of some stone pitching which bears further right on a climbing traverse of the fellside. Above a knoll it bears left to continue the climb to the ridgeline. At the ridgeline as the path turns left, turn right back onto a grass path. The minor, 'spiritual', top cairn soon comes into view.
Retrace your steps and rejoin the path to continue on the rough path alongside the wall. The wall crosses the highest point of the fell and the summit is marked by a pile of stones beside it.
Continue along the wall, cross the shallow col and climb the short way upwards to just below the Hole-In-The-Wall.
Below the Hole-in-the-Wall near the tall ladder stile, bear right at the cairn onto a well graded path across the moorland heading for the broken ground around the outfall of Red Tarn. To visit the tarn turn left as the path breaks up near the outfall crossing, the tarn is a few metres above. Continue on the path to the junction below Catstycam.
Bear left climbing steadily to the ridge of Swirrel Edge. On the ridgeline turn very sharp right and carry on climbing again - the path is not on a knife edge here. Above one last steep section the small summit outcrop and cairn hoves into view only a few metres away.
Three paths spread out from the summit of Catstyecam. The path you came up is the easiest to descend. (Next is the east shoulder path and not recommended for descent is the very steep north west ridge path.)
So retrace your steps back to the path junction above Red Tarn, and bear left on the wide path.
Descending alongside Red Tarn Beck this path is part of the main route from Helvellyn. Some meandering zigzags ease the gradient at times. At the bottom cross the beck by the two bridges and continue down to the bridge above the buildings at Greenside Mine.
Don't cross the bridge but bear right at follow the terrace path running across the fellside which follows an old water race. Only odd bits of the construction still remain. Keep on the higher track, the slopes above you are mainly grass and bracken. After a while notice the small boulder with a juniper bush hat!
Before reaching Mires Beck the path appears to be blocked by a low wall. Bear left here to drop down to the lower path alongside the enclosure wall. Bear right to the gate above Gillside Farm, bear left to go through the gate onto the initially stone pitched path dropping down to the gravelled track. Follow the track, and then road past Gillside camp site, over the bridge and back to the junction with Greenside Road. Bear right back down into the village.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Lanty's Tarn, Keldas, and Patterdale Circular||36m (40 yards) away|
|Glenridding Dodd||44m (48 yards) away|
|Greenside Mine and Glenridding Beck Circular Stroll||80m (88 yards) away|
|Helvellyn, The Classic Ridges of Striding and Swirral Edge||85m (94 yards) away|
|White Side and Raise, from Glenridding||101m (111 yards) away|
|Glenridding Dodd, Heron Pike and Sheffield Pike||121m (133 yards) away|
|Place Fell and a stroll alongside Ullswater||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|Birks and Arnison Crag||1.3km (0.8 miles) away|
|A visit to Place Fell overlooking Ullswater||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|St Sunday Crag and Grisedale Tarn||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell||3.5km (2.1 miles) away|
|A short walk to Hart Side from Park Brow||3.7km (2.3 miles) away|
|The Dovedale Round: Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Rest Dodd and The Nab||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Around Hayeswater Reservoir||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Brock Crags and Angletarn Pikes circular walk from Hartsop||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Pasture Beck Round, from Hartsop||4.6km (2.9 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