A breathtaking autumn walk to the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England at 3117 feet, 950m. On a crisp, clear autumn day the walk to the summit is truly exhilarating and awe-inspiring.
A moment to escape from the busy world, lose oneself in your own thoughts and marvel at the incredible views and landscape: the 360 degrees panorama of the Lakeland fells; the mist gently hovering over the tranquil lakes and lower fells and crags below.
The ascent to the summit, starting from Wythburn car park, one of the shortest routes, is steep yet extremely rewarding and this return walk, suitable for families, can be accomplished in less than four hours. On reaching the summit, the lofty heights above the clouds truly take your breath away, along with the cold, crisp air. If you’re lucky you might experience snow underfoot, allowing for a quick snowball fight and a well deserved cup of coffee (from your flask – no tea shops up here!) before beginning your descent.
For the keen walkers, ready for a bit of a challenge, the walk can be extended with a return via Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike followed by a descent to Grisedale Tarn and a return to Thirlmere.
Helvellyn, starting at Wythburn car park, Thirlmere. Wythburn Car Park
Google map: bit.ly/UfXu2u
Wrap up warm and hop on the Keswick Launch that chugs around Derwentwater, in the heart of the western Lake District. It sets off from a pretty bay near Keswick’s theatre by the lake. There are plenty of jetties to run along and ducks to feed should you be early.
People can hop on and off the boat as they please. Cat Bells (home to Mrs Tiggy Winkle) is the fell on your right as you head towards the first stop, Ashness Gate, from where you can walk up to the much-photographed Ashness Bridge. But children may be less excited about an old stone bridge so best to stay onboard until Lodore, from where you can climb up through the woods to the impressive Lodore Falls.
Our favourite route involves staying put until High Brandelhow. From here we walk a few miles along the lakeside path which takes us through old woodland, across fields, over stiles and bridges to Nichol End. Kids can race ahead, hide in hollowed-out trees, explore the woods, hang off jetties, splash in the lake and check out the huge wooden hand. Dogs (which are welcome on the boat) will have a ball too.
At Nichol End Marina there is a fantastic little café on the lake shore. Great home-made soup and saucer-sized scones await you. After lunch the kids can play on the shore (more jetties and ducks) while parents enjoy a coffee.
The boat stops here before heading back to Keswick. For those with a bit more left in their legs, there is a pleasant walk through the village of Portinscale before joining a footpath which delivers you back to Keswick.
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