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Walking in Cumbria and Beyond

Not Quite Striding Edge

Not Quite Striding Edge

I have stood on the top of Helvellyn and looked down on the ‘face’ of Red Tarn, several times, but had never been to the tarn until this walk.  Nor had I approached Helvellyn from Grisedale before.  Doing some post walk research I discovered that Wainwright considered this to be the best way up, to quote;

It is unfortunate that the ascent is usually made by well-trodden paths up the western slopes from the main road along its base, this plan, although benign and free from hazard, being dull and relatively uninteresting.  Approached from the east, however, it presents a very different picture, the climb being exhilarating and in beautiful and impressive surroundings and the mountain revealing the other side of its character , stern and forbidding appearance.  This is the way to go for those who prefer a spice of adventure and sustained interest on the fell walking expeditions”

On the subject of books, and acknowledging blatant plagiarism, I was recently given ‘Walking in the Lake District’ by H H Symonds.  Published in 1933.  My recent acquisition printed in 1947.  Mr Symonds also recommends the Grisedale Beck route.  Adding further information that “ here you are among the wild pigs .. of earlier days; for Grisedale is the dale of the bore”

Both these eminent gentlemen began in Patterdale, my route redtarnmap here, begins in Glenridding and had the added gem of Lanty’s Tarn to be seen and some local history.  The tarn is manmade, but not for water.  Just beyond tarn wall is a green mound, easy to ignore, but is the reason for the tarns existence.   It is an ice house and tarn and ice house were built by earlier residents of Patterdale Hall to create a year long supply of ice and hence, make delicacies such as ice cream.


So, emerging from the small woodland surrounding Lanty’s Tarn, the ‘exhilarating and beautiful’ walk continues with  St Sunday Crag and Dollywaggon Pike rising on the other side of pig alley.


Going to the top of Helvellyn was not the aim of this walk, Red Tarn being our destination, but it did look as though most of the walkers in the Lake District had decided that August Bank Holiday 2012 was the weekend to ‘do Striding Edge’.


I have not walked along Striding Edge and the queue of people along the ridge did not exactly fill me with desire to do so, it looked a little scary and tedious at the same time.  One of the reasons I moved back to the Lake District was to avoid queues and this looks more like motorway madness than peace and tranquillity.


Much more inviting was the softer rise of Catstye Cam and Swirrel Edge, though according Mr Symonds this would be a “mistake, for the views down on both sides of Striding Edge stir the heart”. He also says “  There is nothing on Striding Edge to be afraid of: you do not have to ‘stride’, there is no narrow edge, no danger; merely one or two scrambles, and exhilaration and gladness all the way.”

The ants I could see crawling along the top did not give me any signs of exhilaration or gladness – may be they would in the pub at the end of the day!  Someone convince me to to take that stride?


But for now I was happy to enjoy a brief spell on sunshine and the rainbow promise by the less exhilarating Catstye Cam.



Red Tarn was the lunch stop and destination but rainbow’s promise not yet fulfilled meant lingering and relaxing were merely fleeting thoughts and it was not long before we resumed rucksacks and headed back down to Glenridding by way of Red Tarn Beck


The best weather of the day appearing only, to show where we had been, with the wonderful views from our return journey via Moorhowe road from Troutbeck to Ings.


More walks from Glenridding here, lots of other books on walking, mountains and everything else here.

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  1. Catstye Cam - [...] Glenridding, deceptively green, we set off up the same route I had taken in August, via Lanty’s tarn and…

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