Helm Crag: A walkers guide to ‘The Lion and the Lamb’
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05th April 2023
Nestled in the heart of the Lake District National Park, Helm Crag is a small but stunning peak that offers breathtaking views and a memorable hillwalking experience. Known locally as the “Lion and the Lamb” due to its unique rock formations, Helm Crag is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you’re planning a day trip to the Lake District or are a seasoned adventurer looking for a new challenge, this guide will give you all the information you need to make the most of your walk up Helm Crag.
Helm Crag: History and Background
Helm Crag has a rich history that dates back to the Roman era, with evidence of Roman mining and quarrying activity in the surrounding area. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that Helm Crag became a popular destination for walkers and tourists.
The “Lion and the Lamb” rock formations, which are visible from the summit of Helm Crag, have become iconic landmarks of the Lake District and are the subject of many local legends and stories. One popular legend tells of a farmer who, after losing his way in a snowstorm, was rescued by a lion and a lamb who guided him back to safety. The rock formations are said to resemble the animals, and many hikers make a point of seeking them out on their ascent.
In terms of geology, the fell is part of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, which is made up of volcanic rocks that were formed over 450 million years ago during the Ordovician period. The distinctive rock formations on Helm Crag were created by the erosion of the surrounding softer rock, leaving the more durable volcanic rock exposed.
Other notable landmarks and features of Helm Crag include “The Howitzer”, a prominent rock tower on the summit, and “The Bracken Hause”, a steep gully that hikers must pass through on their way up the mountain. It is said that even Wainwright himself did not make it to the true summit of Helm Crag as he was beaten by the final rocky summit of “The Howitzer”…which requires a couple of meters of steep climbing!
Routes up Helm Crag
Walking to the summit of Helm Crag is a rewarding and often challenging experience (for less experienced) that offers stunning views of the surrounding Lake District. The most popular route to the summit starts from the village of Grasmere and is approximately 6.5 km (4 miles) in length, with an elevation gain of around 350m (1,150ft).
The route begins with a gentle walk through fields and pastures before ascending steeply up to the summit. The final ascent involves some scrambling over rocky terrain, and hikers should be prepared for some narrow paths and exposure. While the main Helm Crag route is considered moderate in difficulty, it can be challenging for those who are not used to walking in steep mountainous terrain.
Walkers should be aware of the potential hazards on Helm Crag, including loose rock, steep drops, and adverse weather conditions. It’s important to wear appropriate hiking boots with good grip, bring plenty of water and snacks, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions. The best time of year to hike Helm Crag is during the summer months, when the weather is generally milder and more stable.
For those looking for a less challenging route, there are alternative paths that offer a gentler ascent to the summit. The route from Easedale Tarn is a popular option, with a longer but less steep ascent that takes in the beautiful scenery of Easedale valley. There is also a much longer route which includes the additional peaks of Steel Fell, Calf Crag and Gibson Knott.
Helm Crag Views and Scenery
The views from the summit of Helm Crag are truly breathtaking and offer a panoramic vista of the surrounding Lake District. From the top, hikers can see the nearby peaks of Fairfield, Seat Sandal, and the Langdale Pikes, as well as the shimmering waters of Grasmere and Rydal Water.
One of the most iconic features visible from the summit is the “Lion and the Lamb” rock formations, which can be seen to the south. The jagged outline of the craggy rocks against the green landscape is a sight to behold and makes for a stunning photograph.
Along the route, you may encounter a variety of wildlife, including red squirrels, foxes, and a range of bird species such as the peregrine falcon and the buzzard. The flora of the area is also diverse, with heather, bracken, and a variety of wildflowers dotting the landscape.
The changing seasons also bring their own unique beauty to Helm Crag, with the vibrant autumnal colours of the trees, the snow-capped peaks in winter, and the fresh greenery of spring providing a different perspective on the mountain throughout the year.
Local Culture and Attractions
Helm Crag and the surrounding Lake District have a rich cultural history, with many local traditions and events that are worth exploring. The town of Grasmere, which is located just a short distance from Helm Crag, is known for its association with the famous English poet William Wordsworth. Visitors can tour his former home, Dove Cottage, which has been converted into a museum that celebrates his life and work.
In addition to the literary history of the area, there are many other local attractions that visitors can explore. The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth, as it has been selling its famous spicy gingerbread for over 150 years. Nearby Rydal Mount and Gardens offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, with tranquil gardens and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
There are also plenty of local restaurants, shops, and accommodations for visitors to the area. For those looking to stay overnight, there are plenty of options, from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels with spa facilities.
Ready for Helm Crag?
Helm Crag is a beautiful and unique mountain located in the Lake District of England. Its distinctive rocky summit, known as the “Lion and the Lamb,” draws hikers from all over the world. The hiking route to the summit is challenging, but the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking. Along the way, hikers can enjoy the stunning scenery of the Lake District, including rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and lush forests.
In addition to the walking opportunities, the area surrounding Helm Crag is rich in cultural history and natural beauty. Visitors can explore the literary history of the area by visiting Dove Cottage or take a stroll through the peaceful gardens at Rydal Mount.
For those interested in climbing Helm Crag, it is important to be prepared and aware of the potential hazards along the trail. Walkers should wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water and snacks. It is also important to check the weather forecast before embarking on a hike, as conditions can change quickly in the Lake District.
If you are planning a visit to the Lake District, be sure to include Helm Crag on your itinerary. Whether you are an experienced hiker or just looking for a beautiful place to relax and explore, there is something for everyone in this stunning part of England.
We hope you found this blog post informative and helpful. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family who may be interested in visiting Helm Crag and the Lake District.