We decided to go and do a wedding venue recce last Bank Holiday Monday and being as it was in the Lake District thought it rude not to go for a ‘bit of a hike’ whilst we were there. You’d think by now that I’d be wiser than to leave the itinerary planning to K without getting an idea of where we’re going. But no. In my defense I have been a little preoccupied planning the aforementioned nuptials.
Anyway… the venue was perfect so we got in the car to a still as yet undisclosed location. Apparently K kept it from me on purpose. He was right to. If I’d googgled pictures of Striding Edge I would’ve been worrying about it the whole weekend. We started out for Helvellyn – according to Wikipedia: the highest point of the Helvellyn range, a north-south line of mountains to the north of Ambleside, between the lakes of Thirlmere and Ullswater.
There was no easing into this adventure. No gentle ramble up to the mountain. We started out on a full-on sweat-inducing cardio-workout up a fairly steep incline for about 50mins. On the plus side it sure would’ve burnt some stored body fat for fuel.
I was already exhausted. Unlike K, I do not do well in endurance activities of any kind. Give me heavy weights to move or some explosive power jumping or sprinting and I’m golden – I don’t have much in the way of type 1 slow twitch muscle fibres it seems (I’ve just been on a course!). As a result we had to stop for me to re-fuel after that and before tackling Striding Edge.
At this point Striding Edge is pointed out to me. I can’t really print what came to mind but if I said it looks like the back of a Stegosaurus (and I’m actually not exaggerating by much) you get an idea of what I was in for. And yes, you walk over the back of the ridges. Yikes.
Red Tarn (centre) is flanked by Striding Edge (left) and Swirral Edge.
So off we went across the ridge. And when I say ridge, it was about one metre wide (if that) and we’re climbing up and down over the dinosaur humps with sheer drops at either side. I’ve never done anything quite so exposed before and it is VERY scary. Helvellyn itself is apparently 950 m (3,120 ft). Very high indeed. Especially for someone who’s really not good with heights. Suffice to say that I kept my eyes firmly on the ground in front of me and didn’t take in the “amazing views”. K on the other hand hopped across like some kind of native mountain goat videoing his progress as he went.
Halfway across my legs gave in and turned to jelly to the extent that I didn’t trust them to keep me upright on that ridge so I had to hop down and walk alongside it, clinging on for dear life.
We did reach the other side safely only to be met with a scramble up another rock face. By this time the weather is closing in around the peak of Helvellyn so we properly motored up the rocks overtaking several people on the way. This is much more my kind of thing – back in the comfort zone.
We couldn’t see anything form the top as the mist had descended, just a quick pit stop to put on waterproof jackets. Then the descent down Swirral Edge (Or Squirrel Edge as I keep mistakenly calling it). Itself a fairly intense quad-burning downhill scramble. We passed a couple running up it with their dog. Crazy. And some random venture scouts who’d set up a BBQ and were selling bacon butties. Not to us I hasten to add!
Eventually back and the car and we made the obligatory stop at the first town we got to, to stock up on high calorie foods to try and replenish ourselves. Exhausted.