Legend and Poetry – walking holiday, day two – Helvellyn

14 August 2013

Learnt from last trip’s experience, I studied Wainwright’s guides carefully before we left. We headed towards Helvellyn (altitude 3118 feet). I was really excited by AW’s description: “only to the traveller from this direction does Helvellyn display its true character and reveal its secrets”. Here I come!

There are many ways you can go up to the summit. From Glenridding, we chose the old pony-route via Keppel Cove, which was the “original route from Glenridding, now little-frequented but still quite distinct. A long but easy and interesting walk”. It was definitely true that it was rarely chosen by the walkers, we met no one on the way at all. It was also true that it was an interesting walk. We saw Swirral Edge bending away from us, Kepple Cove Dam sitting lonely in the valley, Ullswater sometimes appearing sometimes hiding, Keswick stretching in the distance when we reached the top of White Side, Thirlmere lying at the foot of the mountains.


Striding Edge was the “finest ridge there is in Lakeland” according to AW, “well known, popular, and often densely populated in summer”. We came down along it. This book (The Eastern Fells by A. Wainwright) was first published in 1955. Things have not changed much. I was surprised how popular it was. It was definitely the mountain equivalent of Windermere! The “airy rock ridge” was quite special. I was too busy minding where I put my feet to enjoy this finest ridge. There were a lot of very brave and energetic little children.

The third way that connects Gleridding with Helvellyn is the Swirral Edge. AW says some part of it is mushy because it’s close to Red Tarn. But it looked like an easier route than Striding Edge plus no mushy ground could be seen from a distance.

I read that a plane was landed on the top of Helvellyn, I couldn’t believe it. But you’ll understand why when you’re up there. We had lunch sitting on a cleverly designed cross-shape shelter, overlooking Red Tarn. Ullswater was right in front of us in a distance. It was mighty windy.

On the way down there was a woman hurrying up and down the mountain. Through her limited English, we understood that she was looking for a little black dog. We said sorry and went on. It was amazing how everyone seemed have heard about this little black dog and this woman that day. Because when we reached the bottom, a couple mentioned her and asked us the same question. I felt sorry for the dog: he (or she) flew all the way from Europe here just ended up got lost and not be able to go home anymore. But we saw her again later on: she walked toward us from the mountain path with the little black dog in her arms and she had a big triumphant smile on her face. She lifted the dog up and showed it to everyone. Lucky dog :)

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