It’s been a while, but I was down in the lakes last weekend for a visit . Tasked with dog-sitting on Saturday, I could have taken a leisurely low-level day around a lake or two, or maybe the shops and cafes of Ambleside or Kendal would keep me comfortable. Instead I decided to embark on Reggie’s (the dog) first Wainright.
Teaming up first thing on Saturday with an old friend, we decided that tackling Helvellyn was on the cards. Winter had arrived, and there was snow cover to about 500m. Reggie is not the worlds biggest dog, and probably not the most suitable for walking up snowy hills, but he seemed pretty confident and so off the three of us toddled. The route took us from The Swirls Carpark, up and over Browncove Crags to the summit, before descending South to Birk Side, then descending down to the Forest Track that follows the main road past Thirlmere. A lovely circular route, without any real technical sections, but a serious slog up from the off. The bonus to this is you hit the snowline early on, the downside is you’ll be pretty warm and sweaty if your not careful!
The snow was yet to consolidate, so there was no need to don the crampons or dig out the ice axe on this occasion, however winter boots were essential – especially with the additional insulation these bring! Unfortunately Reggie didn’t bring his ice axe, but at least he had inbuilt crampons should he have needed them.
As we crested the shoulder, the wind started to pick up, whipping the snow around us and chilling exposed skin instantly. Although sheltered from the wind lower down, Reggie appeared to be baring the full brunt of the dispersed snow, collecting great swathes in his curly fur. No doubt this would be chilling, so we’d stop every so often to brush this off, not too long for we’d all start to get cold
Once on the summit there was little time to dwell, the clouds where coming and going more quickly, and the wind became more continuous. And so the descent began. Sensing the downhill, Reggie started to pull at the lead, eager to get out of this cold, new world he had unknowingly been drafted into. Due to the depth of some of the drifts we was carried for a couple of short sections (he only has wee legs), but he was quickly on his way again once on all fours.
Once out of the snowline (and in the lee of the wind) we stopped for a bit of lunch. Both walkers chomped down their sandwiches, while Reggie wolfed down his gourmet doggie meal. From here we trundled down to the forest track, before following this back North for a few kilometers to the carpark. From here we said goodbye to our groupie who was headed back to the Northern Lakes, as we where heading slightly South.
Reggie was glad to be back in the car, and, though the trip, at just shy of 8 miles, was possibly the farthest he’s ever walked in one go (and lets not mention the ascent!), he was eager to go out again that afternoon so we, begrudgingly, mooched around the shops in Ambleside (it was Reggie’s idea, honest), meeting plenty of other pooches who no doubt wondered, as their owners did, at Reggie’s slightly soggy appearance.
In all it was a great day out. Ok so it might have been more adventurous without Reggie – the original plan had been to complete a circuit of Swirral and Striding edge, but having a dog on a walk definitely adds a different element to the trip.
Watch the full route on Relive here: