Hike Hellvellyn Loop via Striding Edge & Swirral Edge

Glenridding, United Kingdom



8.7 miles

Elevation Gain

3000 ft

Route Type



Added by Gabi Robledo

One of the world's best scrambles with thrilling exposure on a knifelike ridge and amazing views throughout the entire hike.

This is a classic must do hike in the UK. It starts off with amazing views, becomes an adrenaline filled scramble, has even more amazing views, has another adrenaline filled scramble, then ends with painful downhilling. 

Though the actual scramble is only a rated a grade 1/2 scramble, the exposure is what makes it a challenge. With some hand-over-hand climbing, striding along a knife like ridge, and a 20 foot downclimb, this technically easy scramble is not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, all the crazy adventure-addicts are gonna love the epic views, thrills, and did I mention views!

The route starts from the campground in Glenridding which I highly recommend camping at so you can finish the hike and collapse back at camp with a hammock and meal. 

Note: DON'T hike this on a really stormy/windy day.  It's a pretty safe in good weather and up to moderate wind but rain will make the ridge slippery and the wind can get really strong.

On average this hike takes about 4.5 hours.

The Route:

From the campground on the south side of the river, continue south on the road until it you reach a two gates. Stay left and the path will become more dirt like. After the path has curved to the right, you will reach a point that overlooks Glenridding Dodd, Heron Pike, Ullswater, and Place Fell.  When you reach a stone wall that goes over Birkhouse Moor, don't follow the wall, stay right as it zig zag up the fellside until it later rejoins he Wall at the Birkhouse Moor summit. Next you'll reach the Hole in the Wall which is just a little step stile over the wall. Soon the Red Tarn (lake), the Striding Edge, and Helvellyn come into view. Head straight to the ridge line. 

You'll see that the ridge is very "stride-able" as it is relatively wide and flat. At any time you can choose to veer down to the path along the right side of the edge if the exposure gets to you. The real exposure on the ridge comes from the wind so just keep your attention on staying grounded. Eventually the ridge will end pretty abruptly and will have to downclimb a chimney that's easier than it looks.  Ahead of you is the last steep hill to the peak of Hellvellyn, again, easier than it looks. Head up the tower and scramble up diagonally to the left where there are plenty of solid steps and handholds. At the top head right past a memorial and you'll see a cairn marking the Hellvellyn summit. I'd tell you to rest here and enjoy the view if it weren't for the terrible wind that often blows along Hellvellyn's ridge line. 

Keep walking to the next cairn marking the descent down the rocky, eroded ridge of Swirral Edge. From here you will once again be left to decide to stay on the ridge or to meander onto the small paths on the left and right of the rocky edge. At the very end of the edge, stay on the path on the right as you reach the base of Hevellyn once again. You can choose to stay right and trace the edge of the lake or you can go up and over Catstye Cam looming above (which you might as well go up you've come this far). If you head up up Catstye Cam just backtrack the way you came once you reach the top. Back on the path by the lake head right at the fork momentarily to enjoy a snack and rest on the shore of lake and stare at the wind that makes patterns along the Red Tarn as well as the face of Hellvellyn. When you begin hiking again, head back to the previous fork and go the other way.  You will now be slowly descending among bogs (I hope you have hiking boots). Eventually the trail will run along the river which curves around the base of the hillsides. When you pass the mines you are close. You'll arrive at the other gate you saw at the beginning and descend back the way you came up.  

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