If you are dithering whether to make a visit to Cumbria, the Lake District, then my advice is ‘don’t think about it, do it’. The Lake District is a 583,747 acres of vast and beautiful picturesque patchwork of fields, a land of plunging waterfalls, tarns, thriving greenery, forested valleys and striking caves. It’s not hard not to fall in love with every single nook and cranny of the Lakes. It is the epitome of your postcard panoramic of hilly hilltops, glistening lakes, sheep grazing on rocky fells, fog dancing over the peaks and creating wonderful and awe-inspiring movements across the valleys. It is truly one of the best places to in Britain to embrace the great outdoors, and I for one, who is not normally an ‘outdoorsy’ person has found a new hobby! I absolutely love this type of adventure.
Kev and I don’t venture out much on UK soil as much as we’d like as we always go abroad whenever we take a holiday and needless to say, we are missing out on so many idyllic scenery the UK has to offer. I wanted a 'staycation’ break and the obvious choice for me has always been the Lake District. It has been on top of my ‘staycation’ list for many years and we have finally succumb to it!
During the planning process of the trip, I included a trek on England’s 3rd highest peak, Helvellyn, with an elevation of 950m above sea level, situated north of Ambleside, between the lakes of Thirlmere and Ullswater. Yep… with not much terrain training under our belt, I decided that this is what we were going to undertake on our first ever trekking trip! As you can probably tell, I like diving in the deep end. Our motto was #GoHardOrGoHome!
On the morning of our Helvellyn trek, peering out the window, we were completely shrouded in early morning fog but gradually, the mist slowly dissipates as the sun ascends from behind the Cumbrian hillside as the sun evaporates the moisture in the air. We recorded a time lapse on 29th August, capturing the fog cloud 'dancing' over Helm Crag and the valleys which you can play below.
We made our way to park at the car park at Wythburn Church located at the base (and start) of the trekking route from the west side. This route is considered slightly easier ground to trek and as we were novice trekkers, we chose this option. At times, Helvellyn felt like a 70% gradient climb so stamina and endurance is important. Luckily, the weather was on our side and visibility was clear and the sun shone throughout the whole day. It might have been easier if the sky was slightly overcast as it would have made walking conditions that more bearable, but nonetheless, we were glad we had a perfect summer’s day to experience Helvellyn in all its glory.
We began our ascent at 12:50 at a steady pace and 15 minutes in, the views over the valley are already remarkable. The low gradient and constructed footpaths make the start of our journey easy but it gradually gains height and the terrain becomes stoney and rocky. The path is a series of zig zags ascension with an array of plateaus, but relatively easy to tackle. During the course of the trek, the sun beaming down on us made the climb a little more exhausting but once we reached higher grounds, the temperature declines.
It took us 3.5 hours to reach the summit of Helvellyn and our time of arrival was approximately 16:30 and we were greeted with strong winds and minus degree temperatures and unforgettable panoramic views of Cumbrian landscapes and tarns. It seemed we were on the same level as the clouds. We felt elated that we had accomplished our very first, hefty elevated 950m above sea level trek. My feet were aching (that'll teach me for not wearing in my shoes enough) and I was cursing on the descent but Kev gave me the mental support I needed to get me back down to ground zero! The whole trek to and from was completed in approximately 7 hours, though we did stop regularly for photos and pit stop rests. Had we ploughed through without stopping for photos, we would have knocked off about an hour from our journey. By the time we completed the last few steps back to the car, I felt completely deliriously happy knowing we had made it through to the end and we felt like we conquered the world!
Now, bring on the next challenge!