Helm Crag from Grasmere

The Howitzer on Helm Crag

A great walk from one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Lake District National Park. Anyone who has driven the A591 trunk road from Ambleside to Keswick will have looked up at the famous sight of Helm Crag's unique summit rocks. Starting from the popular Grasmere and being easy to moderate makes this route very popular but don't let this put you off. Do it on a quiet week day or set off early. The ridge has three Wainwrights along it and is situated above stunning valleys. Its central location gives it great views to higher mountains. The ridge walk is exhilarating and the Far Easedale Valley descent is surprisingly wild. Grasmere is a great place to stay or eat and drink.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts at the Broadgate car park on the northern edge of Grasmere Village. The car park is at grid reference NY 338 077.
  2. From Grasmere village head north up Easedale Lane which has sign posts to Easedale Tarn and Youth Hostels.
  3. Pass the Butharlyp Howe Youth Hostel on the right then round a bend to a small hamlet of B&B's, lakeland cottages and a housing estate on the right. Here a footpath is provided as an alternative to the dangerous road.
  4. The road crosses Goody Bridge over the Easedale Beck. Keep on the road passing a minor road on the right then round a bend to the right.
  5. When you reach the Steel Bridge footbridge that takes the path to Easedale Tarn ignore it and and continue along the road following the signs to Helm Crag Path.
  6. Head through a gate then follow the tarmac road as it bends left then crosses a field towards a house. The tarmac road reaches another building and then heads right up a rough rocky bridleway.
  7. The bridleway heads up hill and then bends left eventually reaching a junction where the Helm Crag Path is signposted to the right. Head up this path until it reaches an open area below the old quarry.
  8. Follow the quarry path now as it zig zags up hill through the old quarry, There are a few cairns to help navigation. The path is obvious and eventually climbs up on to the shoulder of Helm Crag with great views.
  9. The path switches back on itself then continues until it reaches the summit of Helm Crag. The summit has fantastic views over Grasmere and towards the Helvellyn range. The summit has two famous summit rock outcrops. The first you will reach is The Lamb & Lion. The more northern rock and highest point of the mountain is known as 'The Howitzer' or 'The Old Woman Playing The Organ', A tricky scramble that is best avoided when wet.
  10. From Helm Crag head north along the ridge along often boggy and some times rocky ground. The route like most ridge walks is straight forward and you will soon reach a summit cairn on the highest point of Gibson Knott.
  11. From Gibson Knott head north to north west along the ridge again on an obvious route which gets very boggy in places. The path clings to the side of the valley then passes over Pike of Carrs before reaching Calf Crag. The summit of Calf Crag has a rocky cairn and small tarn.
  12. Head west then south westerly off Calf Crag. After just three hundred metres you pass a tarn on the right then continue another two hundred metres to reach a path junction with stone cairns that marks the top of the bridleway descent in to Far Easedale.
  13. Follow the path heading south east in to the wild Far Easedale Gill valley. The path follows the Gill and passes a few waterfalls. The ridge you have just walked looms above your left shoulder.
  14. After three kilometres you will reach a wooden footbridge. Cross the footbridge and continue down the valley now on the north side of the gill.
  15. After passing a few farm buildings above Brimmer Head Farm the bridleway reaches the point early where you left to head toward the Helm Crag quarry.
  16. Continue on along the bridleway the same route down Easedale Road back to Grasmere passing Steel Bridge and Goody Bridge.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL7 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 90 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland Central Map Click to buy Harvey Lake District Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.