Morgan Conquers Helvellyn
Route: Glenridding – Birkhouse Moor – Red Tarn – Swirral Edge – Helvellyn – Swirral Edge – Red Tarn – Hole in the Wall – Grisedale Valley – Patterdale
Against my better judgement and as part of my ongoing training for next months Patterdale Parish Boundary Walk I agreed to walk up to Helvellyn with fellow Sahara Trek traveller Chris and Scruffy, his faithful hound. Why this was a bad idea was obviously because a) Chris is far fitter than I will ever be and b) walking up Helvellyn in the day as opposed to the middle of the night with Morgan, my somewhat less than faithful hound, was always going to be a recipe for potential disaster.
Anyway we met in Glenridding with the sun shining in a beautiful blue sky and headed up Birkhouse Moor. The path is fairly steady up and out of Glenridding, past Gillside Campsite and up onto the fell. The views back down the valley towards Glenridding and Ullswater are truly wonderful, especially on a clear sunny day, and were it not for the first run in of the walk with a friendly spaniel, it would have been a wonderful climb up! This route also gave me a chance to take some good photos across to Glenridding Screes where our pet friendly holiday cottages are, and also to the new cottage I have just done a website for, Beck View Cottage in Glenridding.
Anyway enough of the plugs – back to the walk. Having safely made it up Birkhouse Moor we then headed to Red Tarn to give the dogs a swim and a drink. Given Morgan’s lack of discipline and my lack of fitness we agreed to ascend to the summit via Swirral Edge rather than Striding Edge. This is a far more sedate approach except for the last 20 metres or so where the winters rain and cumulative erosion seems to have worn away the path almost completely. Having managed to keep Morgan away from his friendly spaniel (who had also opted for Swirral over Striding Edge) we carried on up the path. At the end we pretty much lost the path and having rained loose rocks down on the poor unfortunate couple following in our wake switched to the grass for a final scramble onto the summit – with me bringing up the rear of course…
The cloud came over briefly on the summit and Morgan celebrated his first time by charging off to make “friends” with any other dog or animal anywhere in the vicinity. Having exhausted myself getting to the top I then of course had to charge along to get him on the lead. After posing for the obligatory summit shot (you’ll see Morgan’s mind is elsewhere!) we set off back down Swirral Edge.
The descent was initially far harder than the ascent as again finding any semblance of path proved somewhat tricky. The first 20 metres really are a scramble and Morgan spent most of it waiting behind me and looking at me like I was some insane lunatic for expecting him to descend such a steep slope. Luckily he quickly realised following Chris and Scruffy was far safer and we were soon back onto the path down to Red Tarn. After another run in there with 2 unfortunate dogs hoping for a quiet paddle we hastily made our way to Hole in the Wall.
For those who have not been there and are going there with dogs the main point to note about hole in the wall is that it isn’t. A hole that is. It’s basically a large wall with a ladder over it. Morgan is not to good with ladders. I wasn’t in the mood for picking him up and carrying him over. I lost. Enough said.
The descent down the Grisedale Valley was reasonably uneventful and pleasant – always nice to be passing unfortunate people heaving their way up the path when you’re springing down it. Unless of course they had a dog in which case I would end up chasing back up the path to restrain my hound.
We bid farewell to Chris and Scruffy above Braesteds Farm B, when they headed off to Lanty’s Tarn and Glenridding, and Morgan and I headed back home to Patterdale – back to the excellent Patterdale Village Store to stock up on supplies for lunch.
All in all about 5 hours. Not as bad as it could have been but next time I will take Morgan up there very early in the morning!
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