Seeking Helvellyn Gold / by Tristan Tinn

I don't blog about my trips often enough. When I do it tends to be because I've returned with photographs that tell the story rather than simply portraying the destination itself.

Landscape photography is addictive, once you envision a shot you'll go to great lengths to get it... it was Striding Edge niggling me this time rather than Helvellyn itself. So that's what I planned to shoot.

The journey..

I'd spent the Saturday night in Newcastle, which equated into a much earlier start than usual. I normally only venture into the fells during a weekend in the Lakes, but this forecast was too good to ignore, with a temperature inversion on the cards.

3am came around quickly but I was eager to get on the road with time to kill. There's nothing worse than falling short of the target as the sky begins to colour. The drive only built my excitement; clear skies with light mist forming in the valleys.

Glenridding was a different story, thick cloud and no moon created a heavy darkness. Mentally for me the biggest struggle on these expeditions is stepping out of the comforts of your car and into the eerie darkness alone.

The path to Red Tarn is well trodden, no navigation issues here. Despite being alone you can't help but cast the occasional glance over your shoulder just to check. Meanwhile white noise from the beck keeps the ears occupied.

A handful of stars shone through the cloud hanging over the hills, it gave me hope that the cloud was breaking above. The break soon stitches itself back together and the stars retreat.

Into the cloud..

Gaining height I realise the cloud is much lower than I first thought, my head torch bouncing back off the water droplets filling the air. I'm forced to turn the torch off and continue through the darkness by the dull grey glow of dawn. Visibility has dropped to a matter of meters. I reach the split at the tarn and head right up Swirral - opting for the safer route to the summit given the conditions.

Once on Swirral Edge there is a bit more light, allowing me to and capture the atmosphere on the ridge with the glow of dawn creeping through gaps overhead.

Swirral Edge Darkness

Despite the recent spell of dry weather the edge was slick with dew. With time on my side I took my time and reached the top safely. There was a fresh breeze on top. The clouds drifted swiftly over the summit, giving spells of blue sky directly overhead with the occasional peep of the glowing horizon.

Horizon through the clouds
 Topped out and still not high enough to escape the cloud

Topped out and still not high enough to escape the cloud

I headed back to the cairn marking Swirral Edge, as I felt there were more breaks here, as I did the sun was burning through. It emitted that early morning mountain light that is difficult to beat.

Swirral Edge Cairn
Light in the clouds

A lone figure who had been sheltering in the summit cairn emerged as the cloud lifted, giving an awesome sense of perspective.

Morning Summiteer

Luckily he stuck around to produce a dramatic silhouette...

Helvellyn Summit Silhouette

Occasionally views to the western fells broke out for a second or two

Western View

My hands were beginning to seize as the cold penetrated them, it was time to get off the summit. I made my way over to the cairn marking Striding Edge and began to make my way down the loose rock onto the ridge. As I descended a fantastic golden light soaked the floor of Nethermost Cove, with steep crags dropping away not far from the path.

Nethermost Cove Glow

Once the moment passed I continued along the ridge, taking a self portrait to aid perspective.

Striding Edge Self Portrait

Venturing along the ridge the sun lit the way

Striding Edge in the cloud
 A brocken spectre in the cloud off the ridge

A brocken spectre in the cloud off the ridge

 After hearing voices in the mist for a while eventually two climbers appeared, they were preparing to abseil a route down off the edge into Nethermost Cove. They couldn't have timed it better for adding a sense of scale to my shot, the extra wide panorama shows the ridge extending in both directions.

After hearing voices in the mist for a while eventually two climbers appeared, they were preparing to abseil a route down off the edge into Nethermost Cove. They couldn't have timed it better for adding a sense of scale to my shot, the extra wide panorama shows the ridge extending in both directions.

Thankyou for reading, I hope this post inspires you to get out and try something a little different! Feel free to share.