From: Greenside Mine
Parking: Car park at Helvellyn House YHA
Start Point: Greenside Mine
Region: Eastern Fells
Route length: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Time taken: 02:27
Average speed: 1.9 mph
Wainwrights on this walk:
Catstye Cam (890m)
Additional summits: None
Other points of interest: Red Tarn
The Lake District's Fell Top Assessors are a hardy pair of men tasked with recording daily weather recordings from Helvellyn, arguably one of the Lake District's more challenging mountains, throughout the winter months. They provide a valuable service to anyone venturing into the Lake District fells during the winter where extra planning and equipment is a must. This year they have been offering a one day winter skills course with Graham Uney, one half of the determined duo, which I decided would be a good opportunity to hone the skills I had learnt at Plas y Brenin a couple of years earlier.
The day started with an early meet-up at the Inn on the Lake, a large hotel that has become the National Park's temporary office after floods devastated their own property in the Glenridding car park. We spent an hour or so discussing the weather and forecasts, a favourite topic of the Great British public, before kitting up and driving up to the Greenside Mine. On the subject of the weather, it was pouring with rain as we made our way up towards Red Tarn but we were optimistic that the weather would gradually improve as the day wore on.
|Swart Beck tears down the mountainside|
|Red Tarn Beck and Glenridding Beck|
|Rain greets our climb up towards Red Tarn|
We followed the main path up Red Tarn Beck, pausing intermittently to discuss the ground conditions and to get to grips (literally) with the correct handling of an ice axe. We followed Graham's lead until we reached Red Tarn, hiding in the clouds below Striding Edge and Helvellyn. We paused for a few minutes for a bite to eat and, as we did, the clouds began to break up revealing the imposing east face of Helvellyn, quite a sight with its covering of snow.
|Climbing up through the gloom|
|Striding Edge and Helvellyn begin to appear|
|Digging out a Rutschblock|
|The group above Red Tarn|
|The sun begins to poke through|
We'd been sheltered from the wind for much of the day, only realising how strong it was as we got on to the exposed ridge.
|A pair of climbers prepare to descend Swirral Edge|
|Climbing up towards Swirral Edge|
|The base of Swirral Edge|
|Looking back to Helvellyn|
|The summit of Catstye Cam|
|All geared up.....|
With the lowering sun, our day out around Helvellyn was drawing to a close and we retraced our steps back along the path to the Greenside Mine.
|Catstye Cam over Glenridding Common|