Helvellyn in Cumbria might only be the third highest summit in the UK, but it is number one for stunning views and exciting ascents. Embark on a wonderful adventure on Helvellyn.
Why: The Lake District National Park is the ideal playground for outdoor adventure enthusiasts, and its crowning glory is the towering mountain of Helvellyn. Even its name combines excitement and menace, and at 949m above sea level it deserves the full-on respect given to mountains. From the top, looking to the west, the view extends over Thirlmere to Borrowdale and the Derwent Fells. Gazing to the east, the stunning ridge of Striding Edge leads your eye towards Patterdale, Ullswater and High Street. To the south, the high ground continues to Dollywagon Pike and Fairfield, while to the north there’s Raise and Stybarrow Dodd.
Walking adventure: There’s no easy trail up Helvellyn because of the effort involved in climbing at least 700m in ascent, but the least technical route heads up from the south, starting at Grasmere and passing through Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pike. For a shorter, steeper, more savage battle with closely-clustered contour lines, climb to the top from one of the three paths that lead from the east shore of Thirlmere and head almost as the crow flies to the summit ridge. But for adventure and challenge there’s no beating the trail up from Glenridding, across Striding Edge, where the sharp, exposed ridge forces hands-on-rock scrambling in places. Leave some space on your camera’s memory card for the amazing view back down the ridge once you’ve conquered it.
Mountain biking adventure: Surprisingly, the summit of Helvellyn is accessible by bike, and legally too, as a bridleway passes right over its summit. The trail leads south-west from Ullswater, along Grisedale, to Grisedale Tarn, from where it leads over Dollywagon Pike and on to the Helvellyn ridge. The ride is tough, steep, rocky and technical, so expect to push or carry your bike occasionally, but the reward is a spine-tingling descent down Sticks Pass, once you’ve ridden over Lower Man and Raise. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but you’ll be smiling from ear-to-ear when you arrive back to Glenridding.
Running adventure: The Helvellyn and the Dodds fell race goes up 1,337m over 24km and is one of the toughest cross-country runs you’ll ever undertake.
Triathlon adventure: If a traditional triathlon doesn’t provide enough of a challenge, join the 9Bar Helvellyn Triathlon, which starts with a swim in Ullswater, continues with a road ride up The Struggle to the Kirkstone Pass, and ends with a run up and down Helvellyn. Don’t expect to set a new personal best! The next race is on 6th September, and entry costs £61. For more information see trihard.co.uk
Maps: You’ll need Ordnance Survey Explorer OL5 to find your way over Helvellyn.