Helvellyn from Thirlmere

This is Helvellyn the easy way, that is if a couple of hours of solid ascent on engineered paths can be described as easy! It does however avoid the scrambling experience of Striding Edge and Swirrel Edge when ascending from the eastern side.The shortest option is just to go up to the summit from Thirlmere via the Helvellyn Gill path and come back down the same way. If you prefer a longer circular route you can continue over Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon, down Raise beck to Dunmail Raise and follow the permissive path back to the start.

Starting point -  United Utilities Swirls Car Park Thirlmere NY316169 ( or alternatively the layby just to the North of the car park)
Distance - 9.3 miles (circular route)
Time -  4-5 hours (up and down route) or 5-6 hours (circular route)
Notes - Pay and Display Car Park with toilet facilities ( toilets may be closed in winter)


Leave the layby at the South end and walk along the grass verge. Shortly turn left into Swirls Car Park. Head through the car park to the Helvellyn signpost. Cross the wooden bridge over Helvellyn Gill. Go through a gate and walk up the stony path beside the ghyll. Go through a second gate and over a small bridge. Turn right over a second bridge shortly after signposted Helvellyn 2 miles. Continue up to cross a large wooden bridge. As you climb pause to enjoy the views of Thirlmere behind you. Continue up the path and soon go through a gate. Continue up the engineered stone path.The views now extend to the North to the Skiddaw range. The path becomes more stepped as you climb higher. After some time you will come to a boulder strewn area and the path becomes loose stones and winds its way up past several cairns. The ascent becomes gentler now, a welcome rest from the somewhat relentless stone staircase. The path flattens out before ascending again, the final stretch to the summit.

From the summit you can choose to simply retrace your steps or alternatively follow this circular route back to the start.

  •  Follow the main ridge path South from Helvellyn summit until it forks at Swallow Scarth, take the left branch and follow it South to Dollywaggon Pike. From Dollywaggon Pike the path turns South East. Continue along it and descend the steep zig-zags to Grisedale Tarn.
  • At the tarn turn West and follow the path across the low col to the head of Raise Beck. Join the path on the South side of Raise Beck and follow it down towards Dunmail Raise.
  • Just before the road turn right and follow the Permissive Path North to the footbridge over Birkside Beck. Cross the bridge and continue North along the path as it traverses the mountainside into the forestry plantations. The path is followed North for just over 4km back to the car park 

Download a pdf of Helvellyn from Thirlmere walking route

Thirlmere from Helvellyn
swirral edge and red tarn from helvellyn sept.jpg Swirral Edge and Red Tarn from Helvellyn