Helvellyn

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  • Helvellyn
  • swoosh
    Member

    I am staying at a campsite on the north side of Ullswater in July and am thinking about riding Helvellyn from there. I’ve got the Vertebrate Publishing guide book to the Lake District which suggests 1 way up (Matterdale Common) and 3 ways down (Sticks Pass, Glenridding Beck and Dollywagon Pike/Grisedale Beck). The guide book suggests that Sticks Pass and Dollywagon Pike are harder than the Glenridding path with the Dollywagon Pike being only for very good riders. I’ve read or heard somewhere that Dollywagon Pike has now got huge steps on it.

    I have a few questions:

    1. Is the Matterdale Common the best way up?
    2. Is it all rideable up?
    3. How tough are the steep/rocky bits on Sticks Pass?
    4. Is Dollywagon Pike not really rideable now it’s had the steps put in?

    Any advice gratefully received.

    Premier Icon Fishd
    Subscriber

    Been there twice with a bike, only made it up once.

    Took the route from the book and started on what was a lovely day down in Glenridding. Started to cross Matterdale Common and it was a total bog. I’ve got a great picture of my bike sunk to the axles in what looks like a grassy bank. We rode a bit, pushed a lot and made it to within 100m of Great Dodd before having to turn back due to bad weather. Took around 3 hours to reach this point. We were in the beer garden in Dockray 45 mins later with the sun shining.

    Second trip was a lot more successful. Parked just off the A591 above Wythburn(?) and with local knowledge (thanks Andy) began a big push up a massively rocky path that is, I think, the one up comb crags and birk side. Made it up in a few hours, drink, snack and photos at the top followed by some massively fun and grin inducing rocky descent which on a hard tail, was quite tricky (ask my mate Steve if you can see the scars).

    If you like technical descents, option 2 is heartily recommended (with body armour and your thinking head on. Leave your gnarr-speed-balls for later unless you’re blessed with an abundance of skill, we weren’t. )

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Subscriber

    Been up it twice, first time on my own I went up Dollywagon Pike (many years ago before it was sanitised, it was basically a push up a massive scree slope) then rode north over Lower Man, Sticks Pass, Calfhow Pike and onto the old coach road then turned left to Threlkeld.

    Second time we camped at Glenridding and went up via the Copper Mines, Keppel Cove, Lower Man, Helvellyn the rode off south down Dollywagon to Grisedale Tarn then followed the Deepdale valley east.

    Both are tough routes although I wouldn’t go up Dollywagon now it’s been sanitised and stepped. Try doing it mideweek or do what we did the second time and go up at night (we left about 2am, got to the summit about 4.30, 5am). If you’re trying to do the tough descent with walkers all over it you’ll end up annoying them and having no fun yourself either.

    *Disclaimer* Yes, I know bikes have equal rights on BW’s etc but trying to ride down a very technical steep rocky narrow descent with hoards of walkers around is no fun for anyone.

    mtb_matt
    Member

    I went up via Dollywagon from Glenridding last week . There’s about half a mile of steep steps from the tarn and I ended up having to carry the bike on my back as it was impossible to push up. After that its nearly all rideable to Hellvellyn. I think you’d have to be quite a confident rider to descend down the steps.

    After that I descended via Sticks pass via the mines and back to Glenridding. Most of it was ride able although it gets very rough around the mines.

    Cheers

    Matt

    GaVgAs
    Member

    1. Is the Matterdale Common the best way up?
    2. Is it all rideable up?
    3. How tough are the steep/rocky bits on Sticks Pass?
    4. Is Dollywagon Pike not really rideable now it’s had the steps put in?

    1 Matterdale Common (Brutts Moss) is the best way up,(easiest gradient) although its best ridden after a week or so of dry weather or hard frost!(Keppel cove zig zags, via greenside mine is the other)
    2 Yes I have seen Great Dodd cleaned on one occassion with two expert riders,not by me tho πŸ˜₯
    3 Sticks pass is not that steep in comparison to dollywagon,although it is a rocky trail with some singletrack on the upper parts,I would say you need to be an experienced rider,and take knee pads elbow guards if you have them.
    4 Dollywagon is now stone pitched from the summitt,it is all rideable with one really difficult drainage gully,there is a line however,just to the right of it,getting down without pinch flatting is the challenge!
    The decent from Grisedale Tarn is awesome though and makes the whole loop an epic day out,park on the ullswater lakeshore to maximise the downhill

    This routes best avoided at peak times though,Its not a bad idea to do it as a night ride, but dont underestimate the weather,altitude, and distances!!
    πŸ˜‰ have a good one..

    swoosh
    Member

    thanks everyone for the commentswe’re going at the end of July so hopefully the weather will have been good and we can go up via Matterdale Common, over Great Dodd and onto Helvellyn itself. we might then turn round and retrace our steps to the top of Sticks Pass or the Glennridding path (is that what you guys are calling Keppel Cove?)

    alternatively would it be silly to do an out and back via the glennridding/keppel cove route?

    GaVgAs
    Member

    Yep The Glenridding to Greenside mine and then Keppel cove,a good alternatave if the weathers bad,but not doing the full route on Helvellyn is a shame,its a brilliant route if your into big mountain riding..I would recommend big capacity tyres 2.2-2.4 and make sure you have plenty of spare pads/tubes/ spares etc,its pretty hard on the bikes!!

    swoosh
    Member

    Given the weather that it looks like we’re going to have this coming week and weekend we are now thinking of riding up the keppel cove track and over lower man to helvellyn and then retracing our steps back down keppel cove to glenridding. Is this going to be a silly route given that the schools break up this week so could be popular around?

    anyone got any pics of the keppel cove track so we can see how technical it is?

    Premier Icon lowey
    Subscriber

    Kepple Cove is not technical. Its just a wide gravel path to the col below Whiteside.

    swoosh
    Member

    any predictions on how busy it’ll be on the first Saturday of the school holidays?

    Premier Icon lowey
    Subscriber

    Rammed. Unless its raining buckets, then it will be just packed.

    Sorry swoosh… didnt properly read your post. Lower man is a pretty technical descent, ace, but pretty technical. Nothing as bad as Dollywaggon though.

    elliptic
    Member

    Kepple Cove is not technical. Its just a wide gravel path to the col below Whiteside.

    Yup.

    It’s also quite steep in places so unless you’re *very* fit you’ll be pushing some of it… but certainly the best way up from Glenridding.

    For the way down I’d carry on over Raise to Sticks Pass which has some lovely singletracky descending into the hanging valley. Also has (used to have) some unrideably rocky sections on the last bit down to the mines but it’s far better value than coming down Keppel Cove.

    swoosh
    Member

    so we’ll be playing skittles with walkers on the way down then!? πŸ˜•

    Premier Icon trout
    Subscriber

    Just found this recent upload on youtube of the dollywaggon decent

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha9-r3Yy4ng[/video]

    as we are staying in the area next week looking to have a go
    Might bump into you Swoosh

    swoosh
    Member

    Yep – definitely think that is too technical for our group.

    This ride for us is more about getting a sense of achievement at the end of a good day out. So we’re not looking for the most technical route or the most rad one either, we want to make sure we all get up and down safely whilst having a good day out on the bikes.

    Yes – will keep my eyes open for you Trout – no doubt you’ll be the one with 20 different prototype lights for turning a dull day into a scorcher on the Costa del Sol!! πŸ˜‰

    elliptic
    Member

    so we’ll be playing skittles with walkers on the way down then!?

    On Helvellyn and Lower Man, yes.

    Sticks will be quieter.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito
    Subscriber

    Was up there a few times over (the very dry) Easter.
    Bruts Moss was do-able to get up, but won’t be now. And it wasn’t much fun coming down. Sticks Pass was though, and the cheeky path round Glencoyne Head is lovely, albeit a bit hike-a-bike at times.
    Kepple Cove is by far the easiest way up. At least its smooth so you can push your bike, and don’t have to shoulder it.

    bajsyckel
    Member

    Although Keppel Cove has plenty of walkers, as a climb that doesn’t matter as you’re unlikely to be going too quickly, and it’s more or less the only all-rideable, all conditions route up unless you’re a hero. At this time of year though the amount of people anywhere will be a bit of a pain on any of the descents- I would suggest a long descent North to the Old Coach Road, but definitely not after lots of rain. Going up in the evening or early morning would give you a bit more freedom on the more popular paths though.

    parkedtiger
    Member

    Going up in the evening or early morning would give you a bit more freedom on the more popular paths though.

    Head out anytime after about 3pm and you’ll have the tops mostly to yourself.

    We rode that a year or so ago. Its sort of nadge tech, rideable steep, but its the drainage ditches on the switchbacks that get tricky! TBH the guy on the vid made a meal of it!
    If your in Ullswater why not go up high street? The single track along the far side of Ullswater is great. If you start at the Paterdale end and finish with the Ullswater lake single track then a lot of the walkers will have gone back to their caravans.

    Premier Icon trout
    Subscriber

    has it been too wet to go up the Dodds

    parkedtiger
    Member

    has it been too wet to go up the Dodds

    Most of the normally boggy areas around here (North Lakes)had dried out – but then a lot of rain dropped over the weekend. Probably not at it’s worst right now πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon trout
    Subscriber

    Thanks Parkedtiger hopefully not too much rain this week so it dries a bit more.

    can you recommend a pub in or near Pooley bridge for an evening meal and good beers

    b r
    Member

    A few years ago we did Patterdale-Tarn-Dollywagen-Helvellyn-Miners Path-Patterdale. Wouldn’t bother again…

    But Patterdale-High Street-North to Lake-Patterdale is to be recommended.

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    I’ve done Helvellyn twice this year. First time around we did Matterdale Common, then down Sticks Pass. Last time up Keppel Cove, then down Dollywaggon.

    I’d do Sticks Pass again at the drop of a hat. It’s in my top three descents in the UK.

    Dollywaggon was techy but dull. Especially on a hardtail.

    Matterdale Common, after a lot of dry weather, was a hideous slog of bog and marsh.

    Apart from Sticks, I wouldn’t rush back.

    parkedtiger
    Member

    The Bridge and the Sun are both good Troutie – not been in either for a while though ! Used to prefer the Sun.

    Mugboo
    Member

    Sticks pass is very good πŸ™‚

    smudge
    Member

    Sticks Pass then please Mr T πŸ˜›

    Premier Icon trout
    Subscriber

    The Bridge and the Sun are both good Troutie – not been in either for a while though ! Used to prefer the Sun.

    Ahh The Sun brings back memories of my water skiing days on Ulswater
    stayed at the waterside campsite with only a cold tap and single toilet.
    water ski all day then a wash in the lake and walk to the Sun for beers and food . stagger back and repeat on the sunday Oh Happy Days.

    swoosh
    Member

    Matterdale Common, after a lot of dry weather, was a hideous slog of bog and marsh

    I’m concerned that it will still be too wet to ride properly so think it’ll be an out and back on Keppel Cove track. None of us are very fast either going up or coming done so might not be too much of an issue with walkers.

    I’m still considering Borrowdale Bash as an alternative if the weather is staying bad this week. Which would you guys do this weekend if given the choice?

    elliptic
    Member

    If you can navigate then wet/claggy weather isn’t necessarily a reason to stay off the tops, but strong winds would be. The BB also has more potential cafe stops on it πŸ˜€

    That said the forecast does look to be improving towards the weekend.

    Surprised to hear Dollywagon called “dull, especially on a hard tail” – I found it frustrating though. I think I’m pretty OK at that sort of rocky and switchbacky stuff, but some of the drainage ditches worried me off my bike at times. I think you either need more speed or some minor wheel-lifting trials skills. It you ride down the grass cutting corners it is just steep and certainly dull.

    However, Grizedale Tarn down to Patterdale was amazing, fantastic piece of technical singletrack.

    We did it saturday before last, going up via the Zigzags, though still too steep for me to ride most of. Didnt feel any more tired at the top that if I’d walked up. It was a good day without much wind. Not too many walkers surpringly, the ones we met were good natured.

    I’d do the same route again and try a bit harder on the path down to Grizedale Tarn. I’ve walked up, scrambled up, climbed, done Helvellyn as a winter climb, and it felt really good to be on the top with my bike.

    Might try the Sticks descent next time, then we could take in the ridge off Lower Man which seemed like it would be a good descent too.

    A few pics.

    swoosh
    Member

    We did it saturday before last, going
    up via the Zigzags, though still too
    steep for me to ride most of.

    so is it much of a hike-a-bike effort whichever go we go up?

    call me old fashioned but when I go mountain biking, I want to actually ride my bike…

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Subscriber

    Defo do the Bash if the weather is poor – nae point being up Hellvelyn if you can’t see anything IMO.

    swoosh
    Member

    Defo do the Bash if the weather is poor – nae point being up Hellvelyn if you can’t see anything IMO.

    The weather looks like it might be pretty good for this coming Saturday but obviously the weather recently and in the next couple of days wont be so good so not sure how good the condition of the trails will be.

    How long will the Borrowdale Bash take to ride starting at Keswick? (we’ll be riding at a nice pace – not racing but not hanging around either)

    Brown
    Member

    call me old fashioned but when I go mountain biking, I want to actually ride my bike…

    I’d have said more ‘new fashioned’… πŸ˜‰

    You’re likely to be pushing up a few bits no matter where you go in the Lakes. Not worth missing a ride because of it though.

    Helvellyn is awesome. If it’s been wet, just go up direct from Patterdale. (It’s still doable over the Dodds, you’ll just push more and get wet feet.) Definitely come down Dollywagon – the steep bit is nothing special, but the bits before, and particularly afterwards, are awesome.

    The Borrowdale Bash will probably take around 3 hours going fast, but I’ve not done it for a while. (You still might find yourself pushing up from Watendlath though).

    elliptic
    Member

    so is it much of a hike-a-bike effort whichever go we go up?

    Well, yes, as I pointed out upthread…

    The Keppel Cove zigzags are rideable in theory but very steep. Anything from ten minutes to an hour of pushing needed, depending on how fit / determined you are to ride as much as you can.

    And then the ridge up to Lower Man is definitely not ride-uppable, at all, there’s 15-20 mins of carrying up that.

    As Brown said all the classic high mountain rides in the Lakes do involve some pushing/carrying, it’s part of the deal. It’s usually worth it πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    Agentdagnamit – when I say dull I mean in that there’s only so much of the samey, though techy, stuff I can take before I get bored. Like riding a long flight of steps. Sticks pass is so varied all the way down I wouldn’t ever consider dollywaggon again.

    Glad I’ve ridden it though.

    Still – sticks all the way!

    Fair enough Pook, I do know what you mean. I’m looking forwards to riding Sticks next time maybe.

    Blower
    Member

    Dollywaggon and Graizedale Tarn down to patterdale is an awesome downhill imo.

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