Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere

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Location Map

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Post Code for Sat Nav: CA12 4TW


Swirls car park, which is currently free or lay-by parking on the A591 just north of Swirls.

Public Transport:

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Route Summary:

Walk up Helvellyn from the less glamorous side, but no less scenic.

Distance: 15.4 km

Ascent: 1013 m

Time: 5-6 hours

Start and Finish: Swirls Car Park


Toilets at start


Slightly steep and slippery descent to Dunmail Raise.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere Details

Helvellyn in the Lake District might be more often ascended from the grander valleys from Glenridding, but while not as glamorous there’s still good walking to be had from the Thirlmere side. There are ascents from Wythburn that ascends Birk Side quite directly to Helvellyn summit, or you can ascend from Dunmail Raise.

This route up Helvellyn starts from the Swirls car Park on the A591 between Keswick and Grasmere. The ascent is a straightforward if relentless 2.5km climb, gaining over 600m in height rapidly. Thankfully, once you’re on the minor summit of Browncove Crags, you’ve got the majority of the ascent out of the way. The final stretch to the summit climbs over Helvellyn Lower Man, and with an almost insignificant 90m of ascent to reach the summit, you can enjoy this final section.

The walk then takes in the whole ridge from the summit of Helvellyn over to Dollywagon Pike before descending via Grisedale Tarn and Grisedale Beck to Dunmail Raise. The walk finishes off with a 6km forestry walk high above Thirlmere, that leads back to the starting point.

The nearest pub to this walk is the King’s Head Inn – barely a kilometre away from the starting point, serving food and real ales.

Helvellyn from Thirlmere Route Map

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Helvellyn from Thirlmere Route Description

Click here to view the full description and download the route in a new window (external site).

For more walks up Helvellyn, visit our All the Walking Routes up Helvellyn article.


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