13 December 2019
As the winter draws in and with the first sight of snow, myself and two others summit one of England’s highest mountains every day. We are the Fell Top Assessors for the Lake District National Park Authority and our job is to help you summit safely and be prepared before heading out on your adventure.
We provide a daily report on the ground conditions of the Lake District fells between December and Easter and post it on lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk and Twitter. The information on Lake District Weatherline is always up-to-date as one of us walks up the hill every day during the winter months; this includes New Year’s Day, Boxing Day and even Christmas Day, it is surprising how many folk are out enjoying sandwiches on the summit of Helvellyn, rather than a roast turkey at home!
The underfoot conditions during these winter months are often very different and sometimes dangerous to those experienced during the warmer, summer months when the vast majority of visitors and locals enjoy their first, exciting exploration of the beautiful Lakeland fells.
Depending on our daily report, we usually recommend walkers to have the following;
I walk up Helvellyn far more than any other hill for several reasons. Firstly, although the third highest peak in the Lakes, it is more popular to climb owing to it being so readily accessible. Secondly, it has a large easterly face which retains the snow for longer. Thirdly, there are several routes to the summit including the classic edges of Striding and Swirral Edge and fourthly, there is a ranger base with a kettle when we finish our walk!
If you prefer a lower hill, it is hard to beat Wansfell Pike (c500m), then this is the one for you! There is a relatively easy, pitched path from the middle of Ambleside to the summit. Being lower in altitude, Wansfell Pike is often beneath the cloud when the higher summits are in it. Thus you are more likely to experience its glorious summit views, which are out of all proportion to its height, down the length of Windermere to the south and over Grasmere vale to the north.
Should you prefer to walk up a medium sized fell, then one of those which together form the Kentmere Horseshoe is strongly recommended. This is a glorious walk, but parking is extremely limited at the end of the Kentmere valley, which is why it is an excellent walk to undertake during the quieter months of the year.
I look forward to meeting you, properly equipped and with, no doubt, a beaming smile on your face, on our glorious fells in the winter months!