Sunday 9th June 2013

One of the highest peaks in England, Helvellyn is not a mountain to take lightly. There are several ways to climb it, even on bikes, none of which are easy, nor are the descents off it. We opted to start from Glenridding, climbing via Keppel Cove to meet the ridge line of the Helvellyn Range.

Compared to some Lake District bridleways, particularly the passes, Keppel Cove is quiet a forgiving climb and probably the best choice of route to ascend Helvellyn on a bike. First passing through the disused mine above Glenridding, where the surfaced road ends and becomes loose rocky track, it steadily gains altitude for the next mile and is reasonably easy going. After this first mile, the track takes a right and starts to climb steeply up the valley edge with switch backs. Challenging, but possible to ride if you want to and have the gears and legs for it. (I would add that none of us rode it in full!)

At the top of the climb, we reached our first summit of the day - White Side, where we lost a bit of height at speed before climbing again for a short distance, this time with the bikes on our backs being the only real option.

The summit of Helvellyn reached, we had a bit more ridge riding, with a short diversion to Nethermost Pike and around the peak of Dollywaggon Pike, before the most challenging downhill section of the ride down to Grisedale Tarn. This was an unforgiving series of steep, stepped switch backs with large water gullies every 50 yards that were really challenging to negotiate. One particularly awkward one caught my front wheel, sending me over the bars and a pretty painful landing.

Having made it (just about) down to Grisedale Tarn, it was a case of following the bridleway down Grisedale itself. This was mostly singletrack with loose rock of all sizes to figure lines around, not as challenging as the descent of Dollywaggon, but still technical and not really possible to take at any speed. Eventually it opened out onto farm track before popping out at Patterdale, where we had a short road ride back to Glenridding, where we tucked into an ice cream before heading home.

Another big mountain Lakes ride in the bag, with all the challenges you would expect at that altitude.

Stats 'n that

Location info

How far and how long:

11.63 miles, 4 hours, 15 minutes

Who was with me:

Richard Grave, Tony Farnell, Stuart Sirey, Scott Fisher, James Vincent
The ascent of Keppel Cove.

The ascent of Keppel Cove.

Stu strikes a pose near the top of Helvellyn.

Stu strikes a pose near the top of Helvellyn.

The unforgiving descent down Dollywggon Pike.

The unforgiving descent down Dollywggon Pike.

Dropping into Grisedale.

Dropping into Grisedale.