Lake District


North Yorkshire

North Wales



About Summiteer


26th November 2020

Molly Lower Man


Thirlspot Parking Helvellyn Gill

Every year since 2005, I have climbed Helvellyn at least once and today is the chance to keep the sequence going as this year draws to a close. Parking in the lay-by is convenient for a direct ascent of the fell from Swirls. Alternatively, you can park in one of two United Utilities car parks for £7 - stays of less than four hours are cheaper.


The walk started at 08:15hrs. Under national lockdown restrictions, there is no guidance on how far you can travel for exercise. Exercise is one of the reasons for leaving the home. At the end of this report, I will tell you how many other people I came into close proximity with. The pitched path extends up for almost 2,000ft to the top of Brown Crag.



Mist covers the whole of Lake Bassenthwaite and beyond.


Western Fells

As height is gained, the view opens up over the Central Fells to the Western Fells.

Stepping Up

The steps are no problem to seasoned Pendle Hill climbers! The view from the plateau behind Brown Crags top reveals three sunlit felltops. I think it's White Side nearest the camera, then Stybarrow Dodd and then Great Dodd with Watson's Dodd less prominent between the latter two and Raise not in view....but I could be wrong, they all look a bit the same from here.

Selfie Hug

Seflie Hug

A young couple do the modern thing, I wonder if I'm in the background of their photo?

To Hevellyn Summit

To Helvellyn Summit

I think this route of ascent has great merit. It's short and direct and walkers can avoid the busier choice of Striding Edge with all the risks therein, not least virus transmission as strangers get all too close to one another.

Temperature Inversion


The view to the south-west reveals mist in the valley with Steel Fell on the right. No doubt somebody else is in just the right place to take photographs of this fine scene, but it's a bit too bright from here.

Helvellyn Trig Point




Just as we reach the top of Helvellyn, we enter light cloud - rather chilly. I have more than one fine pairs of gloves, unfortunately none of them are with me today.

Molly Helvellyn

Molly on top of Helvellyn 3,118ft

Molly's 8th ascent of Helvellyn and the 16th consecutive year when I have made it to the top on at least one occasion. This could be the quietest I have ever found it up here...NBA (no bugger about). Soon, the young couple appeared and another walker appeared from the south, normal service was resuming. It's 10:00hrs and after a short break in the shelter, I decided to head to Raise, walking in a northerly direction.

Helvellyn Lower Man Sheffield Pike
Helvellyn Lower Man
Sheffield Pike & Ullswater

In a year when I've been robbed of many things....freedom, cash, holidays, family get-togethers, meet-ups with friends etc., it's great to get back on the fells. The last few weeks have been quite a drag with persistent poor weather and limited opportunities to explore the countryside; today was forecast to be a fine day and so work was abandoned in favour of fellwalking.

White Side

Molly on top of White Side 2,832ft asl

The mists over Lake Bassenthwaite are dispersing, disappearing, dissipating...whatever, they are on their way out. Ain't no sunshine, but there ain't no crowds either, Raise is next.


To Raise

Raise Summit Stybarrow Dodd Summit
Raise Summit 2,889ft asl
Molly on top of Stybarrow Dodd 2,770ft asl

and without further delay, we head on to Stybarrow Dodd - one mile north of Raise.

Watson's Dodd

Watson's Dodd 2,584ft asl

It's 11:50hrs and we have gone far enough along this ridge, time to find a way down. Wainwright offers an ascent from Legburthwaite for Watson's Dodd and so there should be a descent route the same way. I fear this is not a popular way of climbing Watson's Dodd, I couldn't find a path and none are shown on the OS map. No bother, it's downhill in a westerly direction and once Castle Rock appears, you know you are in the right place. If Castle Rock doesn't appear, panic.




With Castle Rock on the right, the route is to aim for the small hamlet and then follow signs for Stanah and so on to the fellside path all the way back to Swirls.

To Swirls

Thirlspot Farm

To Thirlspot Farm

We diverted to Thirlspot Farm for a shorter route back to the car on the A591.

Walkers: Molly and Me.

Time taken: 5hrs 30minutes over a distance of about 9miles.

Route: A591 lay-by, Swirls, direct ascent of Helvellyn up many steps, Helvellyn Lower Man, White Side, Raise, Stybarrow Dodd, Watson's Dodd, Legburthwaite, Stanah, Thirlspot Farm and the A591.

Weather and conditions: Cool, bright early on and then overcast.

Refreshments: Brew and biscuits back at the car.

Close Encounters of Less Than 2m: None.

"Freedom is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose...."

All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2020 ©

Take me back to the start ....

Take me home....