Classic Lake District Walks – Helvellyn from Thirlmere

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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Gear you may need

Welcome to Walk up Scafell Pike

Walk up Scafell Pike is the dedicated on-line guidebook for walking routes up Scafell Pike in the English Lake District, with free walking maps and full guides to all the routes to the summit of England’s highest mountain.

Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England at 978m high and is one of the mountains climbed on the Three Peaks Challenge walk. It’s a formidable mountain that needs respect, with no such thing as an easy route up  the mountain to be had. All the walks and hikes are a challenge, and well worth the effort to reach the roof of England.

The Routes to the Top of Scafell Pike page has an interactive map that shows all the walking routes to the summit of Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head, Scafell Pike from Borrowdale and Scafell Pike from Langdale as well as hotels, campsites and pubs near Scafell Pike (add your Lake District business for free), and there’s a page for each walk that shows the route, parking postcode,  a downloadable file for your GPS device as well as details on the weather for the mountain.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page for more Scafell Pike facts such as how long will it take to climb Scafell Pike, where can i start the walk from and other questions.

Main Walking Routes up Scafell Pike

Route Name Starting Point Parking Post Code Distance Ascent Walking Time
Scafell Pike from Wasdale or Wasdale Head Wasdale or Wasdale Head  CA20 1EX (Wasdale Head)  4.2km*  900m*  3-4 hours**
Scafell Pike from Seathwaite, Borrowdale (Corridor Route) Borrowdale  CA12 5XJ  15km (round trip)  1000m  6 hours+
Scafell Pike from Langdale Langdale  LA22 9JY 9km  1130m 4 hours**
Scafell Pike from Hardknott (southern approach) Eskdale Hardknott CA19 1TG – for Boot – then continue up Hardkott Pass to GR NY211 011  17km  1000m  6 hours
Scafell Pike Corridor Route from Wasdale Wasdale or Wasdale Head CA20 1EX (Wasdale Head)  7.8km*  970m*  3-4 hours **

*Distance/Ascent noted is for one way only.

**Time is for one way only, and variable. Very fit walkers can walk up and down in 3-4 hours(depending on the route)and will know their own timings and speed. If in doubt, assume the longest duration for your ascent and add the longest for your descent, depending on route. Add a good half hour or more for the summit stop as well.

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