Height: 950 m; 3117 ft
Distance: 8 miles; 13 km
Estimated Time: 5 hours
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL5 The English Lakes NE Area
Route: View in Google Maps
GPX File: Download GPX file (desktop only) – What is a GPX file?
Helvellyn is the third-highest point in England. Scafell Pike is the highest point and Scafell is a close second. Helvellyn matches Scafell Pike for popularity among hikers: it’s estimated that over a hundred thousand people climb Helvellyn each year.
Car Parking and Facilities
The Car Park for Helvellyn is in Glenridding. It costs £8 to park for the full day and the car park’s proceeds are used to maintain the local area and Helvellyn routs. The car park fills up quickly, so arrive early if possible. You can pay by cash or card for parking in Glenridding. The car park has toilets.
Glenridding has pubs, cafes, equipment shops and convenience stores.
It is important to prepare for the trek to the summit of Helvellyn. You will carry all clothing, food, water and equipment in your backpack. The weather at the summit of Helvellyn can be very different to the weather in Glenridding, so ensure you have warm clothes and waterproofs. Take enough water for the return walk. A minimum of 2 litres is recommended.
You can view a full equipment list that covers everything required to complete Helvellyn.
View route in Google Maps.
There are multiple routes up Helvellyn. The popular route, and for good reason, is climbing Helvellyn up Striding Edge and coming down using Swirral Edge. The loop walk requires some light scrambling and provides an element of danger walking across Striding Edge.
From the Glenridding car park, head towards the main road and cross the bridge over the stream. Turn right so the stream is on your right-hand side and follow the road.
Keep following the path and the stream. Turn right at the cross section, following the signpost for “Helvellyn”
The path continues with the stream on your right-hand side. You will pass Gillside campsite on your left-hand side.
Turn left onto the main road.
Turn right leading to the stone wall.
Keep left at the next split in the path. Follow the signpost for “Helvellyn via Miresbeck 3 miles”.
The next turn isn’t obvious because you come away from the main path. Go through the gate and turn left.
The next section is tough. You gradually ascend to 700m, which is the majority of Helvellyn’s height. You pass Mires Beck and have great views of Ullswater behind you.
Turn right following the rocky path away from the stone wall.
There is a grassed route leading away from the main path. This optional detour takes you to Birkhouse Moor, standing at 718 metres with great views from the top. It’s a 5-minute detour if you wish to reach the summit of Birkhouse Moor.
Take the same path back down Birkhouse Moore to carry on towards Helvellyn.
On a clear day Helvellyn comes into view quickly. You can see Striding Edge and Swirral Edge too.
The Hole-in-the-Wall section on the map is identifiable by the ladders leading over the stone wall. Keep going straight up towards Bleabarry Crag. The path becomes less smooth and rocky underfoot.
The Red Tarn comes into view and tempts hikers on a hot day.
Striding Edge is what makes Helvellyn such a popular climb. It is classed as a Grade 1 scramble (doable for hill walkers in good conditions). Some experienced scramblers have jokingly classed Striding Edge as a Grade 0.5 due to its simplicity for experience scramblers. It’s still a challenge for first timers.
There are many paths around Striding Edge. The brave can climb straight over the ridge or you can find easier paths around the sides.
Britain’s Mountain Challenges have a great section on Striding Edge. The video below shows the scrambling required and gives an understanding of what is involved when climbing Striding Edge.
The final section of Striding Edge has a steep climb down.
After finishing Striding Edge, it’s a steep walk to the to top of Helvellyn. Climbing the final section of Helvellyn provides great views of Striding Edge.
You will pass the memorial of Charles Gough who sadly died from a fall while summiting Helvelyn in 1805. Charles’s dog guarded the decomposing body for 3 months before being discovered.
Helvellyn has a level summit. Once you reach the plateau you will see the stone shelter and trig. Reaching Helvellyn summit after 3 hours is a good indication that you will complete the full walk in 5 hours.
Continue along the plateau walking past the trig until you reach the small cairn and can see Swirral Edge. Start your descent down Swirral Edge. Swirral Edge is not as extreme as Striding Edge and is much easier to climb down.
Keep right at the next junction of footpaths to start the return to the Glenridding Car Park. For those seeking another peak to bag along the Helvellyn route, you can turn left and summit Catstye Cam (890 m).
Keep left at the next turn. Following the route away from Red Tarn.
The route follows Red Tarn Beck. There are a couple of bridges to cross along the way.
Keep right at the next bridge. The route takes you along a ridge of Moorside.
Take the cut through leading to the stone wall and turn right at the bottom.
The path leads back to the gate you crossed though at the start of the walk.
Head through the gate and turn right onto the path next to Gillside campsite.
The path leads back to Glenridding.