The Eastern Fells & Edge’s

1st July 2011

Have you ever pulled apart an old radio as a kid? It was one of my many past times after I got bored playing with the Lego bricks; if you have  an old electrical unit; toasters, remote controls , hair dryers you name it if it stopped working mum gave it to me or my twin brother to play with, anyway if you have stripped the plastic away & got inside the spaceship, er I mean that green board thingy that’s full of diodes & metal solder then you will know the smell if you’ve ever lifted said board to ones nose, it has an indescribable stink, strong & potent & pretty nasty the kind of smell you would waft under a siblings nose just to bug them? Well that same smell I carried all the way (a two hour drive) to Lakeland when some amoeba ran a red light at 06:00 am just outside Sainsbury’s  petrol station causing me to swerve & brake hard thus knocking half a litre of coffee down my centre console. I was not happy, Audi drivers hang your head in shame. The swill from my coffee cup was now a neat little puddle around the bottom of the gear stick, the coffee now dripping through an array of switches in the centre console, I screech to an abrupt stop to try & find something to mop my morning brew up with, I pull down my glove box…noo Paul.. all the CD’s will fall out, which they did, I can not believe I do not have a rag of some sort to mop this mess  up with, I’m looking around the car, anything I don’t care what- I know the damage (well we all do, fluids do not mix with electrical switches) & I’m panicking, I run around to the boot & check my little box of emergency kit, you know what I mean..more CD’s old tape a half litre of engine oil, a litre bottle of Evian should I get stuck in the desert..there was no emergency rags. Time is ticking & I know now the damage had already been done, There was no-way I was using the Rab Latok jacket staring at me next to my boots, I quickly open my pack & pull out my Berghous fleece & I start the clean up, the good news was my one inch deep puddle around the gear lever was still there so I used the sleeves to mop that up with, the switches I could nothing about except hurriedly wipe them down pressing them in & out as I did so the coffee wouldn’t stick them when It dried, I got that bit right I think but the smell of burning switch gear in my pride & joy I could do nothing about..

This was not the best start to my day.

Anyway going back to my walk;

This particular walk was hurried in a sense that most of the previous week I had had no laptop for a few days, my charger had died & I needed one A-Stat. It was the end of the world for me, no research, no Memory Map you get the Idea, I have a Samsung Galaxy S android phone in HD which in actual fact connects to the internet quicker than my laptop so that helped with the emails & website- then I remembered in the bottom drawer of the desk of which I am sitting at now holds all my OS Maps for Lakeland, some battered & selotaped together like war wounds they behold the scars of  Bow Fell that still rings true.. Memory Map & GPS units are taking over in my world of walking & Its been a pretty long time since I had spread the contents of OL4 across my desk, its wrong that I rarely open a map these days, for its all on the laptop or down loaded to my GPS from the laptop, people like me should go out there with a map case around my neck or folded in my pocket & walk the fells like I did when I first started years ago.

Anyway I have three  fells in Eastern Lakeland I still have not set boot to, they are; Hart Side, Glenridding Dodd & Arnison Crag, two of these would be on my route today -Hart Side & Glenridding Dodd, I could of easily of made this a small tour & fitted them both in around Glencoyne Park & been  home by early afternoon but seeing as I’ve been away for two weeks I had my cravings for something bigger & much more extravagant. Its been over 3 years since I set foot on Birkhouse Moor so my walk was to be centred from a start in Glenridding, I would then grace Helvellyn’s magnificent Red Tarn before heading for a scramble up Swirral Edge, then take in the summits of Helvellyn, Lower Man, White Side, Raise then if my legs would take me take in the huge descent & Ascent of Sticks Pass & up the other side to Stybarrow Dodd, then head in a north easterly direction & the grassy slopes of Hart Side, round Nick Head & drop down to Sheffield Pike & Finally Glenridding Dodd.

This was a huge under taking & I still feel the sore legs as I type this now but it is a do-able route, of course you going to feel stiff who wouldn’t (the guy who ran passed me on Striding Edge with his dog in toe..he wouldn’t) but for the many a fell walker this walk was the classic way to spend  nearly enough a full day on the fell tops.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Eastern Fells

In the area of the Eastern Fells the greatest single, ass of high ground in Lakeland is concentrated. It takes the form of a tremendous barrier running north and south, consistently high & steep throughout its length, mainly having an  altitude between 2500’ – 3000’, in two places only falling below 2000’, and rising above 3000’ on Helvellyn. In general the western slopes are steep, smooth and grassy and the eastern slopes are broken and craggy, but at the northern extremity the reverse obtains. The fells in this area may conveniently be classed in two groups divided by Grisedale Pass: in the south is the Fairfield group, pleasingly arrayed and with deep valleys cutting into the mass on both flanks; north is bigger but less interesting Helvellyn range, with no valleys in the western wall but several on the eastern side running down into Ullswater.

Ambleside and Grasmere are favourite resorts for those who frequent these fells, but because the most dramatic features are invariably presented to the east, the quite and beautiful Patterdale valley is far superior as a base for their exploration: the eastern approaches are more interesting, the surroundings more charming and the views more rewarding; furthermore, from Patterdale any part of the main ridge may be visited in a normal days expedition.



Ascent: 4,416 Feet 1,346 Meters
Wainwrights: 8, Birkhouse Moor, Helvellyn, White Side, Raise, Stybarrow Dodd, Hart Side, Sheffield Pike & Glenridding Dodd
Weather: Warm & Sunny With Some Broken Cloud, Little To No Wind, Highs Of 17° Lows Of 11°
Parking: Glenridding Pay & Display CP
Area: Eastern
Miles: 11
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Sharmans of Glenridding.

I’d just emptied seven pound coins into the parking meter to park in the centre of Glenridding, on any other given day I would have found a lay-by on the shores of Ullswater & walked my way in, but knowing my extended route I was to be undertaking by the end of the day it was a steep price to pay yet worth it that I didn’t had to trundle another half mile back to the car.


As I climb the steep path out of Glenridding I get the views towards my last two fells of the day, Sheffield Pike (L) & Glenridding Dodd (R) its a mighty long way off yet..


Looking back over Glenridding with Birk Fell domineering the right of the picture & the unmistakable Ullswater.


Now joining up with the path besides Mires Beck & Little Cove, although it was only 09:15am the sun was out there & hot, I’d packed 4Ltrs of hydration today & going off the heat from the sun I’m going to need every last drop.


Looking back down the path towards Glenridding & Ullswater, I’ve just passed a couple much the same age as me struggling on the steep path & in the heat, the female out of the pair as I kept looking back seemed stationary for some time & what looked like she was trying to persuade her husband to turn around, I chatted to them as I passed & they said they were heading for my head I said to myself don’t turn around, I know its hard but at least make it to Red Tarn, you will not be disappointed.. I never saw the couple again.


It sure was a hard slog up to Birkhouse Moor summit, obviously the heat was playing a major part in this & no sooner had I looked the cloud came over & gave some momentarily relief.

Here we have the dominance of Catstye Cam (C) with Helvellyn just to the left & further left is Striding Edge.


It appears I wanted to change my route from here on in, as I approached Hole-in-the-wall thoughts were maybe of a traverse over Striding Edge…don’t be silly I mumbled to myself, you’ve only done it once in the early days & that was with a group of friends (safety in numbers) My plan was plain & simple as I leave Birkhouse Moor-Red Tarn & then a summit of Helvellyn.


Hole-in the-wall & decision time, taking a right at the path here would lead me to Red Tarn, taking the path ahead is Striding Edge bound.


I go for it, I’m not normally rash & usually my decisions  stay firm, that’s unless I get that tickle in the bottom of my belly which in this case was just what I got : )


From my ascent on Striding Edge, Red Tarn, Swirral Edge (my intended route) & the summit of Helvellyn.


The huge mass of St Sunday Crag from Striding Edge, domineering the Grisedale Valley below.


Striding Edge.


I dared to take the on the Edges crags but the knocking from my knees soon put a stop to that, adrenalin was pumping yet I took it all in my own stride,.no rushing take your time Paul.

I met up with a couple probably in there 50’s taking pictures of one another about half way along the Edge, I stopped & said hello & we chatted briefly, the husband spoke about his fear for heights  & that after the photos they would turn around as they had only planned to go half way. ‘Did you spot the runner with his dog his wife asked?’ oh yeah I replied, he came from no were all stealth like, shorts & a vest & that was it… she asked had I done it before & I said yes about 3 years ago ‘but I came off the Edge the wrong side’ (the right side of High Spying How for anyone who has done Striding Edge has  a Shute drop of about 12 feet & must be descended very carefully, my own words of course) for you see you can leave the Edge a number of ways, you can follow a path which jumps right to left or you can scale High Spying How, today I followed the path as I didn’t want a repeat of the Shute drop again, we said our good byes & they wished me luck.


Looking back along Striding Edge with a wonderful smurk across my face, The rocky Crags in the very foreground is the last part of Striding Edge which as above can be flanked- Or there are two paths of its summit, the right path being the one containing the Shute, the left is just a small scramble down.


As I approached Helvellyns summit X shelter a group of hikers were ready to leave thus giving me the whole shelter for a little while, it was here I popped open a couple of Satsuma’s before heading off in the Trig Point direction.


Helvellyn’s summit Trig Point.


My route ahead from in between Helvellyn & Helvellyn Lower Man, Kepple cove is drawn to the right with the first time I have ever seen water in it: Kepple Cove Tarn, Ahead is White Side & Raise.


Looking back on Catstye Cam from Helvellyn Lower Man summit cairn, in the background & what looks like a very long way away is my next to final summit Sheffield Pike.


Looking beyond Brown Cove Crags towards a sun lit Thirlmere.


Ahead is White Side with Raise looking still a distance away, the guy in the foreground was an elderly gent forming the queue at Helvellyns Trig Point, He passed me with haste only to stop at the col separating Lower Man &  White Side to eat his lunch.


The cloud remained high as I reached White Side’s summit, here given views all the way to Bassenthwaite Lake & the Skiddaw massif.


A close up of Skiddaw, Latrigg, Lonscale Pike & Dodd, the smaller fells in the foreground are that of High Rigg & Low Rigg.


Looking in the same direction from Raise’s summit cairn, it was here I stopped again only for this time something proper to eat in the form of tuna mayo sandwiches my teenage daughter had made me the night before, (they weren’t free trust me!) After I finished my lunch the elderly gent had caught up with me on the summit, we passed comment on how good the weather was & such, he explained that Raise would be his last summit as he was heading down Sticks Pass were his wife would pick him up, Now a funny thing happened & I only realised when he left, in our conversation he told me he was from Barrow-in Furness, had a caravan in Coniston & was originally from Blackburn & that he & his wife looked after his grand children Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays, the rest of the week my wife lets me do what I want he explained, I had the very same conversation with an elderly gent  in August 2010 on Calf Crag & I now wonder If I’ve just bumped in to the very same man..what a coincidence!


Sticks Pass, ahead is my route Stybarrow Dodd, left was my ever so impressive meeting with a strangers route back down to Thirlmere, Right would take you to Green Side & eventually the disused Green Burn Mines.



Looking over Watsons Dodd towards Skiddaw & Dodd.


Built by myself & Tim Oxburgh on the 8th August 2010 this small cairn lay sum what scattered along the path, as you can see it is small but substantial in low cloud in locating Stybarrow Dodd summit cairn, (my musings anyway) Stybarrow Dodd, dead ahead.


Stybarrow Dodd summit cairn  with the northern & north western fells taking back ground.


With tired legs I leave Stybarrow Dodd behind in quest of my 6th fell top of the day, this was a lonely old walk that sapped energy & pains appeared from my shoulders & neck, given the fact I was still carrying 2Ltrs of hydration plus my usual pack weight If I could have stopped along this grass bank ridge & had a snooze I think I would have done, the fact was I had to carry on so with spirits a little lower than I am used to I press on.


Hart Side summit cairn with Great Mell Fell & Little Mell Fell in the background, I had somewhat perked up as I spied my route towards Sheffield Pike from here, a little faint but visible grassy path heading over Glencoyne Head.


‘The Ditch’ found on Hart Side’s summit, excavated on the pretence that this was once a Roman Wall or building but later lead to nothing more other than possible early lead mine workings.


With spirits now up again I head over Glengoyne Head within sights of Sheffield Pike, this was really a nice time to wind down & take my time before my last ascent of Sheffield Pike.


With hardly no zoom at all this Euro copter from the North West Air Ambulance roared over head, little things put a smile on my face & seeing this helicopter so close certainly did that.


Beautiful views from the top of Glencoyne Head towards the vast expanse of Ullswater.


Bearing down on Sheffield Pike, this was a somewhat steep descent & did nothing to ease the pain emitting  from my feet, again I rested a while at the bottom of the descent for a couple of moments to reset my composure for my next to final ascent of the day.


Looking back at my route from Sheffield Pike summit cairn, it was here three other walkers held in there hands copies of Wainwrights pictorial guide, I excused myself would they mind me intruding on there summit spotting while I took a summit shot,.. I left them looking for Catstye Cam…


A quick shot of one of my all time Lakeland views, Ullswater from Sheffield Pike.


Left with another steep descent down towards Heron Pike it was here my legs were telling me enough is enough, but all I wanted to do was get down & make my final ascent on Glenridding Dodd my 9th fell of the day, The paths here are faint at best so I chose my own way down putting most of the steepness out of the descent, of course it didn’t work, yes I got down quicker but it still hurt like hell.


This stone wall was my objective all the way down, again I had to compose myself for the short ascent of Glenridding Dodd, I think I lost count between here & the end of the wall with the amount of ‘come on Paul’ I said to myself.


My final fell of the day Glenridding Dodd, the cairn had fallen a little towards the back so I summoned what little strength I had left & built it back up again together with my little contribution to the cairn, the little rock you see on top!


And back to normality, with Birkhouse Moor & the path I used over 7 hours earlier to the far left, it was now just a case of putting that seven pound I used this morning to great use & walking the 500 yards back to the car in the centre of Glenridding & head of home for a much needed much deserved soak in the bath : )


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