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Helvellyn via Sticks Pass from Patterdale

By Dave Chick   

on March 20, 2019    4.5/5 (2)

Helvellyn via Sticks Pass from Patterdale

Further Details

Route Summary:

Helvellyn is a superb mountain though the popular ridge routes are not to everyone’s taste. This longer walk from Patterdale avoids the exposed scrambling of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge

This walk includes the 5 Wainwrights of Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Raise, White Side, Dollywaggon Pike

This walk includes the 4 Hewitts of Helvellyn, Raise, White Side, Dollywaggon Pike

This walk includes the 5 Nuttalls of Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Raise, White Side, Dollywaggon Pike

Route Start Location: Glenridding - Helvellyn

19.64 km 1082 m 7.5 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Moderate Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Glenridding has plenty of pubs, cafes and hotels. The Pay and Display car park has its own toilet block with baby changing facilities.


Due to its flatness, the summit plateau of Helvellyn can be confusing in the mist and care should be taken why finding the correct route off.

Abandoned mine workings in the Greenside valley should be left well alone

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking : CA11 0PD

Due to the popularity of Helvellyn, there is a large Pay and Display car park in Glenridding. Free parking can also be found along the Greenside Road.

Public Transport:

The 508 bus serves Glenridding from Penrith all year round. During the summer, the 508 can get to Glenridding from Windermere via the Kirkstone Pass.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


Helvellyn via Sticks Pass from Patterdale Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Helvellyn via Sticks Pass from Patterdale

Helvellyn is one of the most popular mountains in the Lake District – partly due to the superb Striding Edge ridge which is a Lake District classic. That said, Striding Edge is an exposed Grade 1 scramble and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Fear not, there are numerous other ways to the top of England’s third highest peak that don’t involve any hair raising scrambling – and this is one of them.

This route ascends via Sticks Pass, one of the highest foot passes in the Lake District and an important link between Patterdale and Wythburn (certainly in pre-car days). While significantly longer than the Striding Edge approach, the logical circuit this route creates will take you to some of Helvellyn’s lesser-visited neighbours; Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike.

Helvellyn via Sticks Pass from Patterdale Route Description

1 – From the pay and display car park in Glenridding, head west along the Greenside Road as it climbs, passing the Traveller’s Rest Inn on the right. A short distance after the pub, the road forks – head right and then left at a post box (in the wall) to maintain your climb up towards a row of cottages. Keep following the road west as it deteriorates to a rough track until you reach the Helvellyn House YHA.

2 – Pass the YHA and cross the bridge over Swart Beck into the yard/parking area of the Bury Jubilee Outdoors Pursuits Centre. Follow the track through the wall to the left of the parking area and then climb as it switchbacks up the hill. Follow a path leading off to the right a short distance after you cross a small stream (NY 36290 17384).

3 – The path climbs steeply at first before zigzagging below the crags of Stang End. The path climbs up to the hidden hanging valley of Sticks Gill. The path crosses a footbridge at a series of spoil heaps (NY 35928 17961) – the remnants of this areas mining past. Keep following the path as it makes a wide circuit to the north of the valley until you eventually make the final climb to the summit of Sticks Pass (NY 34234 18190).

3 – At the crossroad of paths, turn left and climb to the summit of Raise. You may notice the Lake District’s only ski run on the slopes to your left. Follow the path across Raise and on to the summit of Whiteside a short distance away, bringing Helvellyn’s north ridge into view as well as a precipitous view down into Kepple Cove.

4 – The north ridge of Helvellyn is the narrowest part of this walk but is by no means difficult. Follow the path which climbs the ridge to Lower Man, a sub-summit of Helvellyn. Bear left to follow the rim of Water Crag, passing the cairn at the top of Swirral Edge, to Helvellyn’s summit.

5 – Descend south-east from the summit to the cross shelter and bear right along the path. The path descends to Swallow Scarth, a depression between Helvellyn and Nethermost Pike, where the path divides (NY 34298 14419). The left fork will take you across Nethermost Pike’s summit before eventually petering out. Head south from Nethermost Pike to find the main path once again.

6 – Follow the path a few hundred metres until you reach another fork (NY 34368 13256). Again, the left fork will lead to another summit, this time that of Dollywaggon Pike. Once across the summit, follow the edge of the ridge until you return to the main path.

7 – Now begins a steep descent to Grisedale Tarn. From a prominent metal post, follow the path as it zigzags 300m down to the shores of the tarn. The path has been pitched with stone or steps in many places to ease the burden on your knees. Keep following the path past the outlet of the tarn and into the valley of Grisedale.

8 – Ahead is a long walk out of the valley to Patterdale. Keep an eye out for the Brothers Parting Stone shortly after the tarn. Pass the Ruthin Lodge climbing hut and take a look at the immense crags of Dollywaggon Pike. Follow the path to a footbridge but keep to the right. Cross the second footbridge to stay on the right-hand side of Grisedale Beck.

9 – The path leads along the valley, passing Elmhow and Thornhow before it becomes a narrow lane. Follow the lane to Grisedale Bridge, turn left onto the A592 and follow the road back to Patterdale.

Dave is our Lake District local expert, often found in the depths of Cumbria he's the author of his own part on the web, All the Gear but no Idea.

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