Helvellyn – striding edge – swirral edge

Helvellyn – 950m


Come and walk Helvellyn and Striding edge – England’s and the Lake Districts third highest mountain. In addition to Helvellyn, which can be walked by the famous Striding and Swirral edges. Firstly the edges are not classed as ‘climbing’ but come in to the ‘scrambling’ classification and are graded as level 1. Check out are Scrambling grade description here.

However Helvellyn doesn’t have to be walked via Striding edge and or Swirral edge, these can be missed out completely depending on your ambitions.

It’s in the name…

It’s meaning is said to derive from old Norse, and means pale yellow moorland. Nestled near this iconic mountain, are the mountains of Catstycam and Nethermost Pike. Catstycam or Catstye Cam’s meaning is believed to translate to ‘wild cat mountain’

Like all mountains, Helvellyn commands respect. This is more so because there are two grade 1 scrambles involved. Swirral edge and Striding edge join the main summit of Helvellyn. Although these can be avoided completely if the walk is started on Thirlmere side.

Striding edge

Like any mountain the weather conditions can change quickly making the ascent feel trickier than it would on a clear summers day. Adequate footwear and clothing needs to be worn, even if the weather looks fair. We can help with this, and provide you with a recommended kit list.

Due to the walks length, Ideally you should be hovering around, or at our Bronze fitness level. This means you’ll get the most out of your time up Helvellyn and Striding and Swirral edges. Striding edge is longer than Swirral edge. That said Swirral edge is short but has a steep finish, or decent depending on which way round you walk it.

Of course that said, we have guided people of all ages and abilities up this mountain, over our 2 decades of guiding in the hills of UK and Europe. Your day with us will be one that is fun and run by our highly experienced and qualified instructors.

Helvellyn is generally walked in the spring/summer months of the Lake District. Likewise it can be tackled in the winter months too. This is a different undertaking, as the days are shorter and colder. Snow also makes the journey far harder than the spring/summer months. In winter extra clothing is needed. Again full kit list will be sent out on booking confirmation.

If you are considering a winter ascent of Helvellyn, then we recommend a training day with us in preperation. In truth you will need to use crampons and ice axe to gain the summit. The ground via Striding and Swirral edges becomes a lot trickier in winter and you will need to have a confident approach to walking this mountain.


To illustrate the routes up Helvellyn, please see our attached map. Here you will see 4 various routes. The red route approaches from Glenridding and takes Striding edge first then descends Swirral edge. Likewise the blue route does the same but starts from Patterdale, and makes our way to the hole in the wall. The orange and green routes miss the edges out completely. In truth the easiest approach is the green route that has no major difficulties, apart from a steep ascent. This route starts opposite Thirlmere reservoiur. In addition to the illustrated routes, there are other approaches up this iconic mountain.

picture of ordnance survey map helvellyn - striding edge - swirral edge - walking routes


For a group of 4 persons the price is £50 per person.

A £50 deposit is required to book a place. See our Contact and Pricing page for more details.

For larger groups please get in touch for pricing.

* We operate a 1:4 instructor policy on Striding & Swirral edges. For larger groups, or if you are just walking Helvellyn, then get in touch.



BMC – Useful site for advice on all things hillwalking – Here

Old Norse dialect – Here