Lake District Top 5 Summits • Summit and Beyond
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Lake District Top 5 Summits

Summit and Beyond

Lake District Top 5 Summits

In this post I will revile the ‘Lake District Top 5 Summits’.

Please don’t mistake this for the Lake Districts 5 highest Summits. If you would like to learn more about the tallest 5 peaks in the Lake District check out our up coming blog on ‘The Lake Districts  5 Highest Summits’. If you are hungry for a challenge and need to test your resilience and endurance, you may even want to consider ‘The 5 Tops Challenge’ contact us for more details.

Summit and Beyond

Lake District Top 5 Summits

The top 5 summits are the mountains our community most wanted to conquer over the past few seasons. These are the summits that people talk about repeating. Each one of the 5 mountains provides a unique experience. Although, it seems there is a shared feeling about the character of the individual mountains. When we hear hikers reflecting on their adventure,  they often describe their experience on the 5 mountains we are about to consider from a very similar perspective.

We have graded each route Difficult, Moderate or Easy including an explanation of how exposed the route is and what skills you will need to complete it.

The aim of this blog post is to inspire people to go out walking in the mountains. It has been routinely proven that hiking in nature is essential for our health. Nevertheless, it is important to head out in to the Lake District with your health and safety at the forefront.

There are a couple of ways you can ensure your personal safety when hiking in the mountains.

1. Learn how to map read and navigate

There are many courses out there teaching you the essential skills needed to move through the mountain area. Check out our up coming Map reading and Navigation courses here.

2. Book a guide

Lake District guides not only know the area like the back of their hand, they understand the weather systems, they know routes you may not, they offer a wealth of  knowledge, carry the correct safety equipment and will keep you safe. To book a guide simply click the ‘Guided Walk Here’ button under the summit you want to accomplish.

All that said, I will provide some tips on how to have the best experience on your Lake District adventure below.

In this post we will consider the most popular routes to the summits of each of the mountains. If you would like more information about easier, more accessible routes please get in touch by clicking here or using the contact form at the base of this page.

From the most technically difficult to the more accessible, here are the Lake District top 5 summits.

Helvellyn

Summit and Beyond

The Route

Difficult / Very Exposed  requires experience and confidence on steep terrain

Helvellyn is the Lake Districts 3rd highest mountain and one of the most popular hills to climb. There are several routes leading to Helvellyn’s summit. In this post we will consider the most popular ‘Classic’ route to Helvellyn’s summit.

Helvellyn’s most popular route is Striding Edge, as seen in the image above. Striding Edge offers an extremely exposed experience while remaining accessible to hikers of all abilities. The ridge involves some easy scrambling and has a couple of sections where you can walk quite confidently along the top of the ridge. All that said, there are some serious drops and this route is not for the inexperienced or faint hearted.

The most common route people take is  Striding edge to the summit of Helvellyn and then down Swirral Edge. After Swirral Edge we come to to Red Tarn a beautiful glacial lake, then the route loops back to the trail you came up and eventually back into the valley.

Helvellyn

Consider Safety

Striding edge should not be underestimated! The photo at the begining of this description was taken on striding edge and is deceiving because it looks clear, the ideal experience. However, the weather can bring a whole new feeling to the experience. A change in the weather can turn any mountain from a fun and exhilarating day out into a dangerous trap. Nevertheless, with the right equipment and professional guidance you will remain safe.

 

Summit and Beyond

Tips

The route described above can get very busy in good weather. So, how did I achieve that photograph of my client all alone scrambling up the final section of Striding Edge?

  1. Set off early and beat the crowds but move steady and enjoy the route. It is common to be stuck in a que on striding edge which is very dangerous. Therefore, making a clear plan and understanding the route is essential. Knowing you are on time and on target for ticking off the goals you set for the route will secure your success.
  2. know the route and move confidently (map reading and navigation skills are essential) In order to plan your route you must have a good grasp of map reading and navigation. If the cloud descends and you can no longer see clearly the landscape changes into a much more intimidating environment. You need to be confident which direction you are going and what features to look for.
  3. Be confident with your ability to hike over steep rocky terrain and scramble. Practice PrAcTIcE PRACTICE! If you are unsure about Helvellyn via Striding Edge consider and alternative route to the summit.

We are here to help

 

Blencathra

Lake District Guided walks

The Route

Difficult / Exposed  requires experience in navigation and confidence on steep terrain

Blencathra is generally quieter than Hellvellyn but provides a very similar experience when it comes to exposure and views. Mountain has been described by our customers as pure energy. There is no way of describing what they mean through words, however they are right. Situated only a mile, as the crow flies, from Castle Rigg stone circle and towering above the A66 like a giant watching over the entrance to the Lake Ditrict, Blencathra has a special energy about it.

The route we have been asked to guide the most to the summit of Blencathra is ‘Halls Fell ridge’. We start this route from Scales, parking near the White Horse Inn . The trail hugs the foot of Blencathra contouring into beautiful rock formations created by the water flowing from the summit.

The route swings north and follows Halls Fell ridge all the way to the summit. Halls fell ridge opens up impressive views of the lakedistict out to the south west. As the summit gets closer it is possible to see the North Pennines over to the east. Blencathra provides views of two very different but equally impressive environments, the mountains and the North Pennines  

From the summit the most scenic route back into the valley is down to Scales Tarn, a magical lake framed by Sharpe Edge. The route follows the river for a while before the trail loops back down to Scales.

Bencathra

Consider Safety

Halls Fell Ridge involves some scrambling and is quite wide in places. This means that if visibility is poor taking extra care to stay on the ridge is essential. It is easy to meander off the ridge and find your self stuck on steep ground in no time at all.  Ensuring you pick the correct ridge and follow it consistently is very important.

After reaching the summit of Blencathra the route back down to the valley is tricky so be very carful. If you find your self descending Sarpe Edge you could be in trouble. The path down to Scales tarn is steep, but it is walkable unlike Sharpe Edge which is a technical scramble and deadly in the wet.

Summit and Beyond

Tips

  1. The first section of the hike can be tricky and it is easy to miss Halls Fell ridge. Set off after first light so you can see, but early enough to beat the other walkers.
  2. know the route and move confidently (map reading and navigation skills are essential) In order to plan your route you must have a good grasp of map reading and navigation. If the cloud descends and you can no longer see clearly the landscape changes into a much more intimidating environment. You need to be confident which direction you are going and what features to look for.
  3. Be confident with your ability to hike over steep rocky terrain and scramble. Practice PrAcTIcE PRACTICE! If you are unsure about Belncathra via Halls Fell Ridge consider and alternative route to the summit.

We are here to help

 

Bow Fell

Lake District

The Route

Moderate / Exposed  requires experience in navigation and confidence on steep terrain

Bow Fell stands above the Great Langdale valley, a basin of beautiful mountain scenery. There is so much to explore in the valley but as you ascend up ‘The Band’ towards ‘White stones’ Oxendale Beck becomes visible and brings an almost alpine feel to the experience.

The whole route from Langdale valley to Bowfell Summit and back is about 10km (6 miles). The walk eases in with a flat farm track but soon starts to ascend towards The Band. As height is gained the views begin to open up and there is a distinct feeling of separation from civilization. I believe this feeling comes from the fact that Langdale is still visible however seems so far removed from the high slopes leading to Bow Fell.

As you pass over White Stones the huge rocky approach to Bow Fell summit starts to feel closer and closer. There are three little tarns (lakes) in the low point between Bow Fell and Crinkle crags. Once you hit the 3 tarns the steep boulders begin. After picking your way up through the boulder field until you cannot go any higher you will find your self at Bow Fell summit.

Bow Fell summit feels wild unlike many of the other summits with memorials at the top or clear signs of a well defined path, you find your self in a rocky environment looking out over miles of mountainous.

The route back into Langdale valley follows Buscoe Sike into Hell Gill. This is where your imagination will be captured by the beautiful flow of water through the valley and the abundance of life it provides. Eventually you will pick up Oxendale Beck and then pick up the path you started on back down the farm track and into Great Langdale.

Langdale Valley

Consider Safety

The beginning of the is route is quite simple to follow however in poor visibility it can become easy to meander off course. The steep sided crags and deep gullys are not somewhere you want to end up unintentionally. Therefore, planning this route thoroughly and having basic navigation skills before stepping off is essential.

Once you reach the boulders leading up to Bow Fell it is important that you have the ability to pick a safe route up to the summit. It is easy to end up scrambling into danger if you do not keep your whit about you.

The decent starts off obvious, nevertheless if you leave the trail and find your self descending into Hell Gill you my become stuck. Mae sure you descend carefully picking your route wisely as you go.

Tips 

  1. The rocks can be very slippery try and pick a dry day. The difficult terrain on Bow Fell can add a lot of time onto your hike especially if it is wet.
  2. know the route and move confidently (map reading and navigation skills are essential) In order to plan your route you must have a good grasp of map reading and navigation. If the cloud descends and you can no longer see clearly the landscape changes into a much more intimidating environment. You need to be confident which direction you are going and what features to look for.
  3. Be confident with your ability to hike over steep rocky terrain and scramble. Practice PrAcTIcE PRACTICE! If you are unsure about this route to Bow Fell summit consider and alternative.

We are here to help

 

Scafell Pike

Lake Doistrict Wainwrights

The Route

Moderate / Exposed  requires experience in navigation, confidence on steep terrain and a good level of fitness

Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain in England and a fantastic accomplishment. The corridor route is by far the most exciting route to the summit but a lot quieter than the alternative popular tourist route from Wasdale Head.  The Corridor Route opens up some of the Lake Districts most spectacular views and also offeres some interesting and exposed sections.

Starting the walk at Seathwaite Farm Campsite, parking respectfuy at the road side. Even better, park at the end of the road in Seatoller National Trust car park. Make your way up to Sty Head Tarn via the ancient bridge. Sty Head tarn is a beautiful lake high up in the fells and makes for a good photograph as seen below.

Finding corridor route can be quite tricky, and once on the trail it is easy loose because it is not a defined. Nevertheless, if you move carefully and remain switched on you will be able to pick out the path until you reach the bad step.

The bad step is a steep section of scrambling for about 4 meters that leads back to the trail. Once down the bad step the trail continues up to the saddle between Ling Mell and Scafell Pike. Then it is a final push up to the summit.

We recommend following the same route back down unless you have a guide. The reason for this is that by attempting an alternative route you are committing to a very big day out in the mountains and it is wise to have good navigation skills and safety equipment.

Sty Head Tarn

Consider Safety

This is a long day out and should not be underestimated. If the weather is poor I strongly recommend turning back at Sty Head Tarn because the higher slopes of Scafell pike are the most exposed to the weather and you will feel the full force.

Give your self plenty of time to complete this route. Set off at first light and take the whole day to get the route right and enjoy the scenery. Although the Corridor Route is the quieter option up Scafell Pike it still gets busy. Therefore, when you get to the bad step make sure you give your self and others plenty of space to maneuver, this is not a god place to have an accident.

As you approach the summit the temperature will drop. It may feel like you are hot and sweaty however it doesn’t take long for the body to cool. Therefore, it is essential you are carrying warm layers and waterproofs to protect you from the wind and rain.

 

Summit and Beyond

Tips

  1. Aim for a dry clear day if you are
    not experiences on this terrain and carry plenty of warm clothing, food and water.
    The route is tricky and exposed
  2. know the route and move confidently (map reading and navigation skills are essential) In order to plan your route you must have a good grasp of map reading and navigation. If the cloud descends and you can no longer see clearly the landscape changes into a much more intimidating environment. You need to be confident which direction you are going and what features to look for.
  3. Be confident with your ability to hike over steep rocky terrain and scramble. Practice PrAcTIcE PRACTICE! If you are unsure about this route consider and alternative to the summit.

We are here to help

 

Great Gable

The Route

Moderate  requires experience in navigation and a good level of fitness

Great Gable looks inaccessible from all angles. The summit appears to be protected by deadly looking crags and very steep scree (loose rock) slopes. All that said, the route we are considering today makes Great gable a moderate route to take on.

Starting from Seathwaite Farm follow the same route as the Scafell Pike route above. The trail take you to the ancient bridge and then begins ascending up to Sty Head Tarn. Shortly after reaching the south edge of Sty Head there is a Mountain Rescue stretcher box, this is the sign post to turn north west and start working your way up the steep south east face of Great Gable. This is a long relentless climb but in good weather the path is obvious.

Eventually you will reach the summit which opens up views of Wast Water to the south and on very clear days the west coast. Some times it is possible to make out the silhouette of  the Isle of Man. While you are at the summit remember to read the memorial and take a minute to be grateful for where you are.

The route back is slightly different. Head north east off the summit and walk down in to Windy Gap. after Windy Gap continue north east, up and over green gable and then begin hiking down into the valley with Base Brown rising up to the right (east) and Brandreth over to the left (west). This valley is beautiful and feels very remote, although it is not far to Sour Milk Gill and the descent back to Seathwaite Farm. Sour Milk Gill is steep but it has lots of picturesque surprises as you descend, so keep your chin up and look around.

Great Gable

Consider Safety

Do not be fooled by the moderate grading on this blog post. When the weather is poor this mountain can be just a dangerous as the rest so always go prepared. Also I have described a route to the summit that can be walked, nevertheless if you meander off the route there is a good chance you will find your self scrambling out on to steep ground. Therefore, knowing which direction you are heading and what features to look out for is essential.

Go steady when descending into Windy Gap, the rocks are loose and it is common for people above to kick rocks down. If the rocks pick up speed this can be very dangerous for people below. All the same, make sure you are carful not to kick rock down onto others.

The trail to Sour Milk Gill is steady but the descent down Sour Milk Gill is trick and steep so tread very carefully and be prapared for some light scrambling. The rocks can become very slippery in the wet.

Summit and Beyond

Tips

  1. Aim for a dry clear day if you are
    not experiences on this terrain and carry plenty of warm clothing, food, water and sun cream.
    On a clear day this route is in the sun most of the time.
  2. know the route and move confidently (map reading and navigation skills are essential) In order to plan your route you must have a good grasp of map reading and navigation. If the cloud descends and you can no longer see clearly the landscape changes into a much more intimidating environment. You need to be confident which direction you are going and what features to look for.
  3. Be confident with your ability to hike over steep rocky terrain and scramble. Practice PrAcTIcE PRACTICE! If you are unsure about this route consider and alternative to the summit.

We are here to help

I hope this post was helpful and inspires you to get out into the mountains safely. If you have any questions please get in touch. I would rather you contact me for advise than take unnecessary risks, I am always happy to support those people looking to better their health through the outdoors.

You can find me on social media or comment on this post if you have questions. All contact details and social feeds are below.

Ben