Helvellyn via Birkside Gill, Lake District
A charming Lake District walk through stunning hills
The Helvellyn via Birkside Gill walk in the Lake District offers a more challenging hill walk through some mountainous terrain. It is a beautiful walk that passes through some stunning settings. However, it is perhaps best attempted by serious hikers or others who are quite fit already.
Name and location of walking route: Helvellyn via Birkside Gill, Lake District
Distance of walk: 6.52 miles (10.5km)
Total ascent of walk: 0.59 miles (948m)
Duration of walk: Five hours
Terrain of this walk: Initially steep climbing either in or alongside Birkside Gill, quickly gives way to more gentle slopes until the summit and a gentle walking descent back to the start.
Description of this walking route
At 0.59 miles (950m) high, Helvellyn is no minor undertaking and you should be reasonably fit before attempting this walking route, but the jaw dropping views across the surrounding area more than make up for the effort. The walk starts off with a steep (and potentially wet) climb up Birkside Gill, followed by more forgiving slopes to the summit itself. From the summit a long gentle descent lets you stretch your legs and reflect on an awesome walking achievement.
- From the car park on the A591 (NY 324 136) walk east for about 0.16 miles (250m) up a steep wooded track until reaching a track junction.
- Head south on the track for just over 0.62 miles (1km) until reaching the footbridge at the bottom of Birkside Gill waterfalls.
- At this point you can either follow the walking route of the Gill by keeping to the left hand side and enjoying the numerous cascading waterfalls as you ascend or get your gaiters on and ascend by scrambling up the Gill itself. If you attempt this route, be prepared to get wet and less confident group members might benefit from a rope for security.
- Keep following the Gill in a north east direction until it finally turns east.
- At this point make your way north north east, until picking up the well trodden footpath that has meandered up from where you left the car.
- Most of the hard work is now over, so continue walking to the summit over 1.24 miles (2km) of gently sloping but easy to follow path.
- At the summit you can stop for a well earned rest in the wind shelter and take some photos of the jaw dropping views.
- Start your descent heading north west down the well marked path passing Browncove Crags and keeping Helvellyn Gill to your north.
- Eventually you will descend to the edge of a wooded area where the path meanders until you reach two footbridges.
- Cross the footbridges into a car parking area and pick up the track heading south out of the car park and follow this for a pleasant 2.17 miles (3.5km) leg stretch back to the start of the walk.
Tips for this walking route: Check the weather before setting off, the paths are very well trodden and easy to follow even in mist and fog but don’t let it spoil your views from the hard earned summit.
On a more serious note, like all high mountains, Helvellyn can have a dramatic change in weather conditions in a very short time so only attempt this route in reasonable conditions. Take a camera for the summit views and wear gaiters while walking.