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Spring Walks 2018, Helvellyn from Thirlspot, Monday 7th May

Ski tow, gills, waterfalls & all.

Reporter: Helen Richardson

On the Monday of the early May Bank Holiday, fourteen members and four dogs met in glorious sunshine for the start of a walk up Helvellyn. Thirteen planned to walk, whilst the fourteenth, nursing a recent ski injury, was set for a day visiting a garden. We met just south of the Kings Head Inn, at Thirlspot Car Park, where we were surprised to find a ‘hooded’ payment meter with a nearby Notice apologising for inconvenience caused by the ‘poor infrastructure in and around the car park due to storm damage’, thanking us for ‘our patience’ during the ongoing repairs, and allowing free parking! We can be very patient in such circumstances! This large car park has decent facilities, including an old but clean (apparently solar powered) toilet block, and information boards telling the history of nearby Thirlmere reservoir, which was built in the 1850s to serve the increasing population of Manchester during the industrial revolution.

We crossed a footbridge and were soon climbing a steep, but well constructed, stone stepped path, alongside Helvellyn Gill. There was plenty of chat along the way, and the warm sun on our backs was most welcome, causing layers to be stripped off as we progressed upwards onto Lower Man. A couple of brief breather-come-refreshment stops allowed us to re-group, as those with very long legs, as well as those with very short legs but a high step cadence, outstripped the less nimble among us. The newest canine, Steve’s ‘Jim’, clearly wanted to play with Barney, Wallace and Peddar, but, sadly, was rather getting the cold shoulder, so had to make do with being petted by people instead. We paused at the trig point at 949m close to Helvellyn summit, which proved to be a popular photo opportunity for ‘Eros’ (aka Tosh), Peddar and a few others.

We turned northward and first lost and then gained height gradually as we continued towards White Side (863m) and Raise (883m). The group once again became rather strung out, but some towards the front made use of their lead to detour and take a look at the button tow ski lift, belonging to the Lake District Ski Club, on the east side of Raise; whilst others ‘caught up’, then basked in the sun and enjoyed drinks from flasks, or detoured in a different direction seeking a geocache. Soon, we regrouped once more, and continued north to Sticks Pass, where we turned west, and walked more steeply downhill in the direction of Legburthwaite, with Sticks Gill tumbling downward to our left, and later, with Stannah Gill and its falls on our right. At the footbridge just before Stannah itself, we turned south and followed an undulating rocky elevated path parallel to the A591, passing several more gills and waterfalls along the way. Some walkers turned off to visit the Inn at Thirlspot, whilst the remainder of us headed directly back to the car park. Here we were greeted by Liz and Paul who had kindly rushed ahead, and were making us cups of tea, and serving home-made cakes from their camper van. What a super treat, and what a fantastic way to complete the walk! It was still wonderfully warm, as we enjoyed our tea in the bright sunshine – and unusually for the time of year, sought shady spots to sit in!

Many thanks to Dave and Vanessa for arranging and recceing the walk, to Dave for leading it on the day, to Steve for a plentiful supply of Eccles cakes, and to Liz and Paul for treating us to such a tasty tea. A great day was had by us all, - and Barney, Wallace, Peddar and Jim were tired enough to be soon asleep once back at the cars!

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