Brown Cove Crags and Helvellyn

Another morning in the Lake District had rained itself out and we’d decided to head towards Helvellyn the 3rd highest peak in England.

The summit looked to be stout walk on any give day. Nevermind so late in the afternoon and with a 6 year old in tow who’d never climbed a mountain before. But we thought we’d give it a go. After all – the route we’d found had said it was a two hour walk covering just over 2 miles. Presumably that was one way – but it looked do-able.

So we drove to the frankly indescribable beauty of Thirlmere and parked at Swirls car park.

The footpath starts at the back of the car park and the walk began by following Helvellyn Gill.


The path then zig zagged up through the bracken. And despite what we’d read the initial steepness took everyone by surprise and it was actually more wicked than it looked.

The footpath was well laid and the stepping was solid underfoot. But as we climbed, frequent analysis of the Garmin showed that – realistically – we weren’t going to make the summit of Helvellyn.

We decided at the very least to push on up towards the top of Brown Cove Crags.


The little ‘un was awesome. There was no real complaning but it was becoming hard work for her. We had frequent food and drink stops but – if anything – it was also a good excuse to look back at the stunning views down to Thirlmere.


As we neared the top of Brown Cove the path became quite exposed and the wind began to whip across the hills. The coats had to go on to combat the wind chill and there were some angry looking clouds on there way.

We were now at just over 2100 feet. That’s two thirds of the height of Helvellyn. So we still had a way to go in terms of ascent if we were to reach the too. We were reluctant but, with the weather coming in and a now weary child, we decided we’d head down.


As expected the descent was just as difficult. Changing angle and continually stepping down eventually takes its its toll on the muscles and the girls were soon complaining about having ‘jelly legs’. Helvellyn Gill and Swirls were a welcome sight for them.

I had promised myself a pint of local ale at some point during our stay. And as this was our last evening in the Lakes we decided to pop in somewhere for a well deserved pint on the way home.



The Kings Heads in Thirlspot was the first pub we came across and we made a good decision to eat there too.

So we hadn’t made it to the top this time but it’d been fun. And our walk has spurred us on to do more moutaind as a family. Hopefully it captured the little ‘uns imagination too!

Love Cumbria? Read more about our walks in the Lake District.


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