Helvellyn winter (03.01.2010)  5

Written by hmsv1 (Hannah Vickers) GSM

Start point Swirls Car Park, Thirlmere
Endpoint Ambleside
Ascents Dollywaggon Pike (858m) 03.01.2010
Dove Crag (792m) 03.01.2010
Fairfield (873m) 03.01.2010
Helvellyn (950m) 03.01.2010
Helvellyn - Lower Man (925m) 03.01.2010
Nethermost Pike (891m) 03.01.2010

I met with my friend Sue Jeffrey for a winter hike shortly after the New Year. The weather forecast was for great walking conditions, crisp sunny weather with snow underfoot so it was looking like a good day ahead. Our plan was to leave one car in Ambleside and another close to the start of our route from Swirls car park beside Thirlmere. That way we wouldn't need to worry about catching a bus back and we wouldn't have to trudge back along the A591 either.
Many people had already started out on a hike on this day too. It was superb. The snow was hard, and it wasn't too cold. This was possibly the first time I'd seen a proper winter in the Lakes. We stopped only for a short time at the summit of Helvellyn before pushing on towards Nethermost and Dollywaggon Pike. Somehow we managed to go a little off-route after Nethermost Pike and had to walk back up to the right footpath (which we didn't see because of the snow) to get back onto Dollywaggon. After that it seemed to go OK and we had a lovely descent down to Grisedale Tarn, bathed in afternoon sunlight. The hike from there up to the summit of Fairfield is not one of my favourites, but on this occasion the scree wasn't as noticeable because it had been covered over by the snow! That was nice, but by the time we reached the top it had clouded over, so we didn't have the views. From there we carried on towards Dove Crag and then south towards Ambleside. The sun was setting over the Langdale fells as we descended the last hillside into town, and it was so pretty. Easily we could have stayed out to watch the sunset for longer, but it was dark and I had forgotten my head torch. Fortunately there was another group of walkers quite close by and we sort of stole their light and followed them instead! It was a great atmosphere; everyone we met on our route were in high spirits, enjoying the winter sunshine and post-New Year celebrations. Definitely a day I will always remember!

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