Helvellyn via Swirrels Edge: Who put Pete in charge?

Helvellyn via Swirrels Edge: Who put Pete in charge?



6 miles

Helvellyn and some new recruits

Helvellyn is a mountain on both mine and Pete’s radar as a walk we needed to do. Days after Blencathra and again through pub talk as well as social media posts we had more recruits.

This time we wouldn’t leave it so long between trips. Due to increased numbers I was expecting difficulty getting a date. That was not the case. In a matter of days we had the end of the month booked for Helvellyn.

Only Pete had walked Helvellyn before. Adi, did persist he had done but after Blencathra nobody believed him.

Seven of us travelled to the Lake District at the end of January 2017 to tackle the one we were all excited for.

Who put Pete in charge?

The majority of us knew one another. If anyone was concerned to enter a group only knowing one person their fears quickly faded early on in the walk.

Pete assumed responsibility early on for some reason unbeknownst to any of us – he has less of a clue than any of us.

The morning was cold and misty but it was already turning into a beautiful day.

At the foot of Helvellyn

A short time later we found ourselves on a route up Helvellyn. I would love to say we chose a route to follow but as stated earlier Pete had no clue where he was actually going.

The track we were on would eventually bring us to the foot of Swirrals Edge. One of the new recruits had brought a flask of Baileys coffee which went down a treat.

Do I need to be fit to hike Helvellyn?

A clear difference in walking levels/fitness was evident early on . ‘Pack leader’ Pete ensured he walked at the back with the slower walkers. This was extremely challenging for him as he is like a mountain goat, always out at the front.

The gap between us was always comfortable. If some of us were starting to get too far ahead we would stop and let others catch up.

As we progressed up the mountain one of the lads was really starting to struggle. This was his first walk and he was finding it really tough to go a few steps before stopping.

Helvellyn via Swirrels Edge
Climbing Swirrals Edge

His problems continued when Swirrals Edge came into view. Adamant he couldn’t continue Pete said they would go back down and wait for us at the bottom.

Gathering his breath he he would continue and see how he got on. Surprisingly he not only tackled it he also really enjoyed doing so and found another gear.

All of us made it up and followed the track round to the summit of Helvellyn. For the first time in our walking history we could actually see the views we had read so much about.

Obviously it was still cold but the photo opportunities were perfect for a thoughtful minute or two.

Dowd in his thoughtful pose at the summit of Helvellyn

Striding Edge

We spent time appreciating the views out across the beautiful Lake District. Now it was time for the part we were all looking forward to the most. Striding Edge.

If you have ever read anything about hiking in The Lake District you will no doubt have heard of Striding Edge. And for very good reason.

Thankfully for my first time attempting it the weather couldn’t have been better. As we carefully headed over it was easy to see how people had gone wrong in more difficult conditions.

At this point I was already looking forward to hiking this one again. It would be over three years later before I returned. This time I attempted it in the Christmas Day snow of 2020.

Completing Striding Edge comfortably we made our way down to the ‘hole-in-the-wall’. At this point our fearless leader made another decision which would ensure he was never in charge again. He was adamant we should go left – despite no evidence of footprints that way. On the other-hand I argued for following the clear path down to the right but was outvoted as ‘Pete had done this before’.

The Pub is calling

Essentially the route we took brought us across a boggy grassed area with no path whatsoever. We then reach the stream and had to navigate our way across to the side we had walked up.

At the bottom we headed to ‘The Travellers Rest’ pub near where we had parked. The pub is full of character and after sitting down for a few beers none of us were for moving.  


  • 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.

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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