Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, Helvellynby Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com Nov/2011
This route has been read 16,975 times
Overwhelming popularity cannot diminish the spectacular class of England’s finest ridge walking horseshoe, a circuit of the chiselled crests cupping the Red Tarn cove. Though hands-on challenge is very limited the name Striding Edge seems apt as you lope along its airy spine; ridges might come harder but they don't get better. To beat the crowds avoid weekends and bank holidays at all costs; misanthropes might prefer a lonely dawn start. For best results mountaineers should save this round for winter; it's too easy to be considered a genuine scramble in summertime.
From a minor top the crest continues as a gently serrated curving knife edge. Though it only demands very basic scrambling Striding Edge has a superbly airy feel (if you're really averse to heights a get-out path slinks along the N flank). Cross a level rock ‘pavement’, then continue over little bumps to reach a short downclimb just before Striding Edge meets the main mountainside. Negotiate this via a short broken groove on the left – polish shows the way. Beyond a little gap is a final rocky barrier, which can be skirted on the right or taken direct. A steep slope now leads to the summit plateau. From the memorial cairn at the top of this slope follow the plateau rim to the summit windbreak.
The outlying pyramid of Catstye Cam can be bagged from here in about 10 minutes (optional). Back at the col, a well trodden path drops quickly into the cove.
Distance: 7.71 miles (12.40 km)
Total ascent: 915m
Steepest Gradient: 36% (1 in 3)
Time: 6 hours (Walking)
private pay and display car park opposite the Patterdale Hotel; alternatively start in Glenridding, NY395159
Ambleside or Penrith
Well trodden paths throughout. The edges themselves are airy and narrow, with some very limited easy scrambling.
Under snow this becomes a grade I mountaineering round (only just), and a real classic. Though very low in the grade it is frequently underestimated, and avoidable mishaps occasionally befall the underequipped (crampons and an axe are recommended). Be aware of any avalanche risk on the slopes leading from Striding Edge to the Helvellyn plateau, and watch out for cornices here and on the descent to Swirral Edge - which can also be very icy at times.
In summer conditions Striding Edge and Swirral Edge are airy walks with occasional hands-on moments, but too easy to be classed as grade 1 scrambles (despite what some people might say).
Weather and Hill Conditions:
mwis: Lake District – Met Office: Lake District
Occasional infrequent buses from Penrith to Patterdale
The Ridges of England, Wales and Ireland, Dan Bailey, pb.Cicerone
OS Explorer OL5 (1:25,000), Harvey/BMC Lake District (1:40,000), OS Landranger 90 (1:50,000)
Patterdale Youth Hostel 0845 3719337; Helvellyn Youth Hostel 0845 3719742; Sykeside campsite near Brotherswater 017684 82239; Gillside campsite and bunkhouse in Glenridding 017684 82346; School House B&B Patterdale 01768 482887