Helm Crag or ‘The Lion and Lamb’ because of its distinctly shaped summit rocks, was once described by Alfred Wainwright as the most difficult summit to reach in the Lake District. He was, of course, applying his droll sense of humour and what he actually meant was that the last 15 feet of the summit rocks defeated him as they call for rock climbing skills which he lacked! In every other sense Helm Crag is perfectly accessible and, in fact, comes highly recommended as a first (mini) mountain to start off your fell walking career.
An out and back approach using the same path is recommended as the other routes off the summit can be confusing.
Directions: (starting from the Grasmere National Trust shop)
Turn L out of Grasmere NT shop and walk to the green at the centre of Grasmere. Follow the road to the R and walk the short distance to Easedale Road. Turn L on to Easedale Road and follow it to a fork. Ignore the access road (to Brimmer Head Farm) and take the R branch (Far Easedale bridleway) that climbs a narrow lane to a gate beyond a cottage.
Pass through the gate and follow the bridleway L for about 30m to the start of the Helm Crag path on the R. The path is followed as it first climbs an enclosed path and then goes through a hairpin to skirt the L side of a walled enclosure. Above the enclosure the path then turns sharp L and climbs the hillside and an extended series of zigzags.
Once above White Crag the path swings R and climbs the fell side to gain Helm Crag’s southeast ridge. The crest of the ridge is followed and provides a lofty and exciting finish direct to Helm Crag’s summit. The summit is a collection of weird rock formations and is worth exploring (with care as there are some exposed drops), but make sure you make a visual note of where the path is to locate it later for your descent.
To descend retrace your steps. On the section down the ridge make sure you don’t miss the turn off for the zigzags as there is a path that continues down the ridge that can be misleading.
This walk should take between 3 to 4 hours, covering a distance of 6.5 km (4 miles) and height gain of 450m.
Lead Ranger - Central and East Lakes