Skip to main content

Guided walk up Helvellyn

By 18th August 2020June 5th, 2021Summer, Walking


A guided walk up Helvellyn in the Lake District is one of the most popular mountain walks in the UK, as is a winter skills course there. Helvellyn offers spectacular views in all directions and a variety of routes to suit many abilities. But it can be a dangerous place too. A guide who knows the routes can help keep you safe as well as sharing a host of useful tips with you.

Booking and Prices

If you want to book a guided walk up Helvellyn in the Lake District then see the main page for more details and prices or see what our clients say about us. You can also have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events.

When you are ready, then get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

You can also enquire about our winter skills courses,  or a guided winter ascent of Helvellyn.

We guide walks in other parts of the Lake District, such as the Langdale Pikes, as well as in Snowdonia and the Scottish highlands.

Guided Walk Up Helvellyn

Helvellyn with Striding Edge, Swirral Edge and Red Tarn - a great view for a guided walk in the Lake District

Helvellyn with Striding Edge, Swirral Edge and Red Tarn

Helvellyn is located right in the centre of the Lake District and offers superb views in all directions. It has technically difficult routes to the top of Helvellyn, more of which later, but also easier options for guided walks too. Once there, the views around are breathtaking. It makes a particularly good place for a guided night walk ready to watch the sunrise over the mountain tops of the Lake District. When the sun comes up, it lights up the southern fells around Coniston and the central/western fells, including Scafell Pike in a pink glow.

The most direct and shortest approach to Helvellyn that we use on a guided walk is from the Thirlmere side. Although the gradient is steep in places, the path is good and so it is a popular choice with families. Don’t be fooled though – it’s still an 800 metre climb and is physically demanding.

Then there are other approaches from the north or south. These will have involved ascending other summits first (or afterwards) and there are many options. Heading to, or approaching from the north, is the broad rolling ridge that includes Raise and Great Dodd. How far you choose to roam along those ridge is up to you. From the south, the ridge includes Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike, Like Helvellyn, these summits have steep cliffs to the east which guard the secluded corries beneath the

Dollywagon Pike may well be approached from Grisedale Tarn. This has always been a popular place for a night’s ‘proper’ wild camping at Grisedale Tarn – not the more recent sort of ‘Covidiot’ camping. On the other side of Grisdale Tarn is the huge mass of Fairfield, another popular summit. It’s possible to include an ascent of Fairfield with that of Helvellyn to tick off two giants in one go – a perfect Lake District guided mountain day.

Guided Walk Up Helvellyn via Striding Edge

Finally, no discussion of guided walks up Helvellyn would be complete without mentioning the jewel in the crown – the circuit from Patterdale taking in Striding Edge and Swirral Edge (below). These are in a different league because they are definitely scrambles rather than straightforward walks. But they lie at the lower end of the spectrum of difficultly and should be within reach of out people who are fit and have a head for heights.

A view of Striding Edge from the top of Helvellyn on a guided scrambling day

Striding Edge from the top of Helvellyn

Winter Skills Course on Helvellyn

Depending on weather and snow conditions, we can combine a winter skills course with a winter ascent of Helvellyn. A day like this will combine learning with a typical journey in the winter mountains. It will help prepare you for having your own winter mountain adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Helvellyn?

Helvellyn is a mountain in the Lake District in Cumbria.  It lies between the two major lakes of Ullswater and Thirlmere, and it is accessible from both these sides.

How high is Helvellyn?

Helvellyn is 949 metres high. It is the third highest summit in the Lake District, after Scafell Pike (978m) and Scafell (964m).

How long does it take to walk up Helvellyn?

The most direct and technically easiest route up Helvellyn is from the car park at Swirls on Thirlmere. Most people take around 2 ½ hours to go up and another 1 ½ hours to come back down. That’s a total of about 4 hours excluding breaks.

The very popular route of ascending Striding Edge and descending Swirral Edge from Glenridding on Ullswater could take around 5 ½ hours. Some will do it faster and others take longer.

How difficult is it to walk up Helvellyn?

The route from Swirls is technically straightforward but is quite strenuous until you reach Lower Man. Here, the angle eases. There is a good rock-step path for virtually all the way. In winter, however, the path collects a lot of water which will freeze making it treacherous.

Striding Edge is in a different league. It is a Grade 1 summer scramble. You need a good head for heights and some scrambling skills. You also need the judgement to know whether or not it is safe for you in the prevailing conditions.

How many ways are there up Helvellyn?

There are many ways that you can plan a day’s walk to include Helvellyn – too many to list.

The route from Swirls on Thirlmere is the quickest and easiest route. Then there is the horseshoe route up Striding Edge and down Swirral Edge, or the reverse.

Helvellyn can also be reached from the broad ridge to its north, perhaps before or after going to the tops of White Side and Raise. You can also reach it from the south without technical difficulty, from Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike.

What kit do I need to walk up Helvellyn?

If you are going to venture up Helvellyn you should have all of the following:- (1) Good footwear with a grippy rubber sole – either a good walking/hiking boot or, if you are used to them, a good quality trail running shoe. (2) A waterproof jacket (such as Gore-Tex). (3) A map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. The paths are not signposted and you should not rely on a smartphone alone. (4) A head-torch, in case you are delayed on your walk, or have planned a long walk.

Do I need a map to walk up Helvellyn?

If you are going up any of the mountains in the UK, including Helvellyn, you should always take a map and compass and have the knowledge of how to use them. The paths are not signposted and you can easily lose them in the mist and cloud.  It is easy to stray onto dangerous terrain once you are off the path. You should not rely on a smartphone alone, though it is a useful additional thing to have.