Helvellyn via the Pony Path and Keppel Cove from Glenridding
Helvellyn walk from Patterdale or Glenridding that makes an easier alternative to the scrambles up the ‘Edges’
|17 km||829 m||6 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Glenridding
Toilets, pub and parking. YHA at start.
Public Transport: Traveline for UK Public Transport
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav (where applicable):
In Patterdale / Glenridding
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Helvellyn via the Pony Path and Keppel Cove from Glenridding Route Map and GPX Download
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Helvellyn via the Pony Path and Keppel Cove from Glenridding Details
This is the easiest route up Helvellyn from Patterdale and Glenridding way as it avoids both Striding Edge and Swirall Edge, taking instead the “Pony Path” up via Keppel Cove to ascend Hevellyn via Whiteside and Helvellyn Lower Man. The route then continues over the peaks of Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike to return via Grisedale. While this walk starts from the Helvellyn Youth Hostel, it can easily be started from either Glenridding or Patterdale by walking to the hostel first.
The initial path up Keppel Cove is steady and easy enough to follow, being a wide, well built track. Before you know it, the path does start to ascend steeply as it zig-zags up Keppel Cove.
The steep sections doesn’t last too long, and you’ll be following the track as it flanks Raise and passes uneventfully over the hill of Whiteside.
There’s a final pull up to Lower Man, and then you’re practically on the summmit. I’d expected a bit more fight after Lower Man, but there was none. Still, there was a cuppa to look forward to on the shelter. Alas, no. The group had taken up the entire shelter and all that remained was the windward side, so I passed on this and after having a good look at the ridges and assessing them for next time, plodded on.Up and over and finally I found some craggy hillside as i tackled the short pull up Lower Man. This is where it got busy. There was a large group descending, and I was convinced there was an accident or similar as I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a group on a Welsh hill. Fortunately it wasn’t, but yet another group now appeared from my right and the ascent was awash with non-greeting walkers. I had to pull back a bit as the last thing I wanted was to become engulfed in the group and probably end up in their coach to Milton Keynes (or , wherever really) as I would become unable to leave.
The walk over Nethermost Pike took me off path. Seems that the path contours around this, and the next top Dollywaggon Pike. From here I was able to take in the views back to Helvellyn and Striding Edge, and ahead towards Fairfield and St Sunday Crag. After taking a few poor photos, I was back on the path, followed by a rapidly accelerating group who seemed hell bent on engulfing me. Fortunately, some of the slowe members struggled on the steep descent from Dollywaggon to Grisedale Tarn and I managed an escape.
This is a magnificent location, with the tarn trapped in between three mountains, and the bulk of Fairfield dominating ahead. I’ll have to wild camp here next time. I turned left here, and stopped at yet another cairn to grab some food. Fortunately I was still hidden by the group behind the cairn, and they gave up their plans of assimilation and went on their way. I breathed a sigh of release that I could walk the rest of the route without the threat of being press-ganged into Midwich Hiking Club.
Grisedale really was the gem of the weekend. No wonder the Coast to Coast follows this. Unfortunately the best views were behind me, so i’m certain this would be better walked up than down. Dollywaggon and Nethermost Pikes, grassy and unassuming on their West reveal a craggy grandeur wholly unexpected this side. You feel that you’re in proper mountain territory now. But looking down Grisedale, it’s all pastoral. You soon feel like you’re in civilisation with its farms and wide green fields.
Grisedale is a long walk, and then it’s necessary to contour around and a bit up above Lanty’s Tarn to bring yourself out above the starker, industrially scarred Glenridding. Fortunately the track contours around easily, once some not so obvious sections are worked out, and I reached Swirral Barn not much over five hours after setting off, and feeling like I’d had a much better workout than yesterday.
Monday was a washout. It snowed, but we had to leave due to other commitments. It’s that common feeling that you’re always going to leave the party just as it starts getting interesting.
For more walks up Helvellyn, visit our All the Walking Routes up Helvellyn article.