Sunday, February 15, 2015

Helvellyn and a few others

Paul and Lee following mountain bike tracks up to Helvellyn

A big run today.  The plan was to go from Keswick, along the old railway line to Threlkeld, up Clough Head, over the Dodds to Helvellyn, down to Whythburn, around the bottom of Thirlmere, up to Harrop Tarn, over to Watendlath, over to Rosthwaite, up to Dale Head and along High Spy to Cat Bells back to Keswick.  We ended up heading back from Watendlath through Ashness Woods and along the shore of Derwent Water.  26.8miles.  Not to be sniffed at?

full route

looking back to Blencathra from the arduous climb up Clough Head

strange happenings on Clough Head

climbing up to Great Dodd, lots of slushy snow right across the Dodds.  Due to a navigational error, we ended up on Great Dodd summit twice.  Carrying on in the direction we thought was right, rather than stopping to check the map/take a bearing.  The Dodds can be disorientating in mist.

looking back to Calfhow Pike, we were in cloud for most of the traverse over the Dodds to Helvellyn.

Raise summit.  The ski tow was operating today.

dropping down from Raise

brief glimpse of Thirmere as the cloud cleared.

slushy steep climbing

figure in the mist on Helvellyn

Helvellyn summit trig

dropping down from Helvellyn, there is a fast descent on a particular bearing but today the snow made it treacherous.  We were glad to intercept the path and steadily wind down to Whythburn.

From Whythburn we ran along the road for a bit, around to the footpath at Stenkin.  We got a bit mixed up on this path and ended up heading south west instead of northwest.  We found our way back to Harrop Tarn and followed the footpath towards Watendlath.  We ran alongside the fence at the top before getting back on the footpath.  The urge to descend when we saw Watendlath below got the better of us and we had a difficult half mile climbing up and down before getting on the windy track down to Watendlath.  I went to fill my waterbottles from the tap in the toilets.  When I came out, Paul and Lee were suggesting an easier route back along the trail to Ashness Bridge and along Derwent Water shore.  It was about 2pm at this point and it was a bit touch and go whether we could complete the run in daylight.  My feet were pretty sore at this point so I didn't take much convincing.

sheep heading up the road to Ashness Bridge.  As we got further on, a tour guide was bringing a group up the road.  He shouted, "MOVE FOR THE RUNNERS!"  The group split and gave us a little round of applause, it was like finishing a marathon.

final stretch around Derwent Water, looking over to the Jaws of Borrowdale

Here's what happened on our little Great Dodd mishap.  We thought we were dropping a bit too much and didn't recognise the valley (Deepdale) which in my head should have been looking down towards Thirlmere.  We decided to climb back up.  Paul couldn't believe we had looped back to the top.  We took a bearing here and quickly found the path towards Watson's Dodd.


  1. That's a very impressive run, well done to all, great views coming off Helvellyn.
    I remember once pushing my MTB over from Thirlmere to Watendlath, think we lost the path and did what you did, flipping hard work.
    Great run, great story and great pictures once again, makes my 26 mile road ride around Somerset lanes look like a picnic ( which it was!)