BB0720 An English Munro:  Helvellyn via Catstycam

Wednesday 14th July 2007

An English Munro had been the request from daughter Emma and her partner, Scott. Bryan was the only other Bootboy available on the day and, after consultation, we decided on Helvellyn via Catstycam and Swirral Edge. The day’s weather started in this summer’s typical drizzle easing to gloom but we had confidence that it would clear in the afternoon.

We parked at Glenridding and began the long approach up the glen to the burst dam. Bryan teased us that we would have to cross by the dam- narrow and certain death on both sides- but fortunately it was fenced off and the beck was a far easier option.

We were tackling Catsycam by the northwest ridge.  Fortunately I had read Wainwright’s description of this and knew it to be a safe, albeit steep path up an impossible looking ridge end.  We were further comforted by Bryan reassuring us that firstly thanks to the mist you wouldn’t see the drops and secondly that if you thought Steel Fell was bad, wait until you’ve tried this!

It was long and steep with some interesting scrambly bits on the way.  But although my legs ached (unusual for me) and I found it tough going, needing frequent pauses for breath (quite usual for me), it didn’t seem as soul destroying as Steel Fell.

As is the fashion when Tony is not with us, we had a T break at noon, a little below the summit and then set off into the gloom of the top and onward to Swirral Edge.

We had chosen this route to avoid the exposure of Striding Edge.  I remembered it as being the “softer option” from the last time I was on it- circa 1960.  And it was mostly OK with some fun scrambling and just the odd bit of a drop to avoid!

Team picture at Helvellyn summit

Emma & Scott in the mist.  What mist?

The top of Helvellyn was in quite thick cloud, as the team picture would suggest.  After this was taken we made our way to the excellent X shaped shelter for lunch.  I took a photo of Emma and Scott in which you can see how poor was the visibility.  Except the camera lens had misted over!  Click on their photo to see what it was really like!

Margaret had provided a good helping of apple cake for us all, which went down a treat.

Thirlmere apperaing

I remarked that I was not going as well as I was last year to which, with typical straight speaking Bryan replied “No.  You’re not.  Last year you would have been romping past people”.  Or words to that effect.  

So, once we had passed over Lower Man and, with the mist lifting, we were heading over to White Side, when a party of school children threatened to overtake us, Bryan’s words were rattling round my brain (or lack of it).

I determined that their two out-riders should not be allowed to reach that summit unchallenged, even though they were running.  I reckoned that as it got steeper they would run out of steam or determination. The apple cake kicked in and a respectable surge to secure the top ensued. It was just as well no one told them it was a race as I only just managed to hold them off!

Mist lifting on Catstycam and Swirral Edge

Between White Side and Raise, we had a really good view of the nose of Catstycam and had I seen that before we set off I doubt very much if I would have agreed to going that way.  As Wainwright had said, it looked impossible.



We descended by Sticks Pass, with all its spoil heaps strangely lacking any vegetation despite having been there for decades.  By now the weather had completely changed and summer was here at last.  There were superb views down Glenridding to Ullswater and the High Street range as well as back to Catstycam.

Glenridding car park

 Once well down I announced that there was another helping of apple cake available as soon as we found a suitable spot.  Emma sat down immediately!

It was then an easy, if longish, stroll back along the track and road to the car park, where there is a lovely little reminder of the use to which the valleys once had been put.

Don,  11th July 2007

Distance: 10.1 Miles (Anquet / Harveys),

Height climbed: 3,701 feet (Anquet / Harveys)

Wainwrights:  Catstycam, Helvellyn, White Side, Raise


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Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.

This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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