Helvellyn: Christmas Day hiking

Helvellyn: Christmas Day hiking


6 Hours

8.3 Miles

Helvellyn on Christmas Day is something else

Up until Christmas Day 2020 I had a Christmas Day tradition of going to the pub at opening, staying until kicking out time and then going home and falling asleep. My family were never fans of this tradition.

During the original lock-down I found myself out walking for a minimum of 15 miles a day. This was just along the local canals, woodland and to the supermarket for my parents. As Christmas approached I saw a friend on Facebook was organising a hike up Helvellyn on Christmas Day. I was in.

The hike was absolutely brilliant, snow, ice and Striding Edge. It was at that point by far the best Christmas Day I had ever had. Fast forward twelve months and I had started seeing Louise who also loves walking. Broaching the subject of Christmas Day I mentioned I really wanted to hike Helvellyn again. Both Louise and another friend Neil said they would love to do it too.

Early mornings and head torches

Neil arrived to pick us up at 4:30am and off we went. I was nervous as this was the first time I was taking the lead on a walk. Louise had a bit of experience walking in the Peak District but had never tackled anything like Helvellyn in Winter. Neil had experience with Mountains and had recently completed the 24 peaks in 48 hours for charity. However he had never walked Helvellyn from the bottom and so was not aware of the route.

Armed with head torches we set off and pushed a good early pace while the ground conditions were favourable. I was all too aware that in about an hour they would change a great deal as we climbed higher.

Striding Edge in all of its glory

We soon reached ‘The hole in the wall’ and proceeded to cross the style. By this time the weather had changed dramatically and fog was setting in. We decided to proceed with caution and judge the conditions every couple of minutes.

If you have never seen Striding Edge covered in snow then you are really missing out. It is spectacular.

We continued our ascent up towards Striding Edge and for obvious reasons our pace slowed quite dramatically. Luckily there was a fairly strong wind blowing which helped clear the fog so we took the decision to go over Striding Edge. There were a few scary moments for us all but finally we successfully navigated our way over and were ready to push on to the summit.

Helvellyn Christmas Day 2020

Squeaky bum time on Swirrels Edge

Having reached the summit of Helvellyn you would think the hard part was over. You would be wrong. Attempting a descent via Swirrels Edge covered in ice is a risky and very scary thing. So scary we did a fair bit of it on our bums and with extreme caution.

One thing that taking it slowly does do is provide a chance to really appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. The first time I hiked Helvellyn we actually did the reverse route to this one. We went up Swirrels Edge and down Striding Edge. That particular time it was spring and we got amazing clear views all around. Christmas Day 2020 we got snow and ice but also clear skies. This year you really had to take advantage of being able to see anything.

Completing the Christmas Day challenge

Following a tricky Swirrels Edge we continued our descent along the path, crossing the stream and discussing our favourite and scariest parts of what we had just completed.

Christmas Day trio 2021

As we made our way down everyone’s focus turned to getting back home and into the local in time for last orders. Luckily I always come prepared so started my celebrations early with a can of Stella, followed by another. Then it was into the van to eat the sandwiches we hadn’t eaten on the Mountain due to the freezing temperatures.

We arrived back at The White Horse in Swinton by 3pm which gave us an hour to have a few beers before heading home for a well earned dinner.


  • Mike Richardson

    Mike is a Mancunian who is usually found hiking the Mountains in the Lake District. He has a passion for the outdoors and loves a pint after a day in the Mountains.

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Mike Richardson

Mike is a Mancunian who is usually found hiking the Mountains in the Lake District. He has a passion for the outdoors and loves a pint after a day in the Mountains.

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