Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere

By Dave Roberts   

on January 5, 2021   4/5 (2)

Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere

Further Details

Route Summary:

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

Start and Finish: Swirls Car Park

Distance: 15.4 km

Ascent: 1013 m

Time: 5-6 hours

Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.


Toilets at start

Public Transport:

Traveline for UK Public Transport


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 Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path,  Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.

Scafell Pike Guidebooks:

We recommend the The Near Eastern Fells: Walking Guide to the Lake District (Lakeland Fellranger)  guidebook from Cicerone or the usual Wainwright’s Walking Guide to the Lake District Fells Book 1: The Eastern Fells 

Recommended Scafell Pike Maps

Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere

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 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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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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