Hills: Seat Sandal, Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn
Date: Monday 13th April 2015
Company: Just myself
Distance: 17.8km, Ascent: 1250m
Time: 5Hrs 50Mins

The weather forecasts for today were suggesting the weather would be slightly better in the Northern and Eastern Lakes compared with the Western and Southern Lakes. I therefore drove from my base in Ravenglass round to Grasmere to ascend Helvellyn via Seat Sandal, Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike.

I parked in a large lay-by near Broadrayne Farm. The parking here is free of charge unlike the car parks a short distance further along the road towards Grasmere.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the lay-by, I walked several hundred metres down the A591 towards Grasmere to reach the start of the public bridleway. The bridleway ascends next to Tongue Gill.

Public Bridleway alongside Tongue Gill:

On the OS map, the south ridge of Seat Sandal looks quite nice. However, I could see no way to gain access onto this ridge. I therefore continued on up the public bridleway.

During the ascent, the cloud-level was at circa 400m. I was unaware of the height of the snowline, all I knew was that it was higher than 400m.

Looking towards lower section of South ridge of Seat Sandal:

Despite the low-cloud, it was still nice to look back to Grasmere. Grasmere is possibly my favourite location in the Lakes. On a good day, the lake is stunning.

Looking back towards Grasmere:

Once into the cloud, I followed a narrow path skirting above a small crag. As I made my way along this path, I could see numerous sheep coming towards me.

Sheep descending the track:

A short distance beyond, I could see why the sheep I had seen earlier were heading downhill. Several men were herding an even larger flock of sheep downhill. One of the farmers asked where I was heading, advising me of slippery snow ahead.

Lots more sheep being herded downhill:

On reaching Grisedale Hause, I skirted round Grisedale Tarn towards the point on the map marked 574m. The easiest ascent of Seat Sandal looked to be from this 574m point.

Grisedale Tarn:

I had to watch my footing during the ascent of Seat Sandal as the ground was fairly steep and the snow (slush) was indeed very slippery.

Ascending Seat Sandal:

On reaching the summit area, I visited the cairn and the summit (rock next to wall).

Looking towards Grasmere from the summit of Seat Sandal:

I then made my way back down following a low stone wall towards the 574m point. As I made my way down Seat Sandal, the cloud started lifting and dissipating. I could now see St. Sunday Crag, Fairfield and Dollywaggon Pike .

St. Sunday Crag and Fairfield across Grisedale Tarn:

Dollywaggon Pike:

At the base of Dollywaggon Pike, I met a bonnie lass from Penrith who I accompanied up Dollywaggon Pike.

Ascending Dollywaggon Pike with lass from Penrith:

As I gained height, I got increasingly good views of the surrounding hills. I think this would be a great walk on a good day. I undertook the nearby Fairfield Horseshoe on an outstanding day.

Grisedale Tarn:

Grisedale Tarn and Seat Sandal:

High Street through the col between St. Sunday Crag and Fairfield:

On reaching the summit of Dollywaggon Pike, I saw two people approaching from the North. They advised that they had come up a route known as the Tongue. They also advised against descending that way owing to slippery snow.

People ascending the Tongue to the summit of Dollywaggon Pike:

The view from Dollywaggon Pike was pretty-good. The North face of Helvellyn is so much craggier than the South face.

Looking towards Helvellyn and beyond from the summit of Dollywaggon Pike:

From the summit of Dollywagon Pike I made my way across to another minor top of Dollywaggon Pike before descending back to the track and continuing on towards Helvellyn.

View from minor top beyond Dollywaggon Pike:

It felt bitterly cold on the ridge today; more like winter than spring.

Heading for Nethermost Pike:

As I progressed towards Helvellyn, I took a short diversion off the track to reach the summit of Nethermost Pike (a Wainwright). Nethermost Pike is worth the detour for the view across to Striding Edge. I will definitely revisit Helvellyn yet again for an ascent via Striding Edge.

Striding Edge from the summit of Nethermost Pike:

Striding Edge (zoom):

Looking back towards Dollywaggon Pike:

En-route to the summit, I passed the small memorial and the large cross-shaped shelter.

Cross shelter near the summit of Helvellyn:

At the summit, I looked down Swirral Edge towards Catstye Cam; a Wainwright I have yet to ascend. I then walked out to the trig point and back to the shelter where I stopped to put on another layer and to have a bite to eat.

Catstye Cam from the summit of Helvellyn:

Looking down to the cross shelter from the summit of Helvellyn:

Looking down to Red Tarn from the summit of Helvellyn:

Looking towards the summit of Helvellyn from the trig point:

At the summit shelter, we sat and watched a mouse running about in the snow. It must live in the shelter feeding on scraps of food. I don't normally leave food on the hill but tioday I decided to leave the mouse my apple core.

From the summit, I made my way back towards Nethermost Pike before following the excellent quality track back down towards Thirlmere.

Descent towards Birk Side:

During the descent, the weather deteriorated; low-cloud and drizzle.

Looking back to Helvellyn during descent:


On reaching the wide forestry track, I followed it for circa 1km. This meant I only had 4km to walk back along the road instead of 5km!

I initially walked through the fields next to the road as there was no pavement or grass verge and cars were speeding past. Once the road changed to dual carriageway, I walked along the grass verge back to the car. I definitely want to ascend Helm Crag!

Grasmere and Helm Crag during walk back along the A591:

Despite having ascended Helvellyn previously, it was good to get out and do a big fell today instead of Sub2000ft Marilyns. A good day out on a great fell.