Helm Crag walk - one of the best walks near Grasmere in the Lake District


Helm crag walk near grasmere lake district best route map height lion lamb howitzer
Helm Crag is a modest fell but gives some superb views of Grasmere and the surrounding fells

Helm Crag - a distinctive summit with superb views of Grasmere and the surrounding area

Whilst Helm Crag is of modest hight compared to some of the surrounding fells, the views from its summit are some of the finest and most unique in the Lakes District. What makes the fell so special is the distinctive rocky summit, where you'll find the rock formation dubbed 'The Lion and the Lamb' which is noticeable from all around, and the Howitzer, which is the true summit of Helm Crag.

The great Alfred Wainwright wrote: "The virtues of Helm Crag have not been lauded enough. It gives an exhilarating little climb, a brief essay in real mountaineering, and, in a region where all is beautiful, it makes a notable contribution to the natural charms and attractions of Grasmere." It's therefore a must do walk near Grasmere and can be done as a straight up-and back-down the same route from Grasmere or Helmside in under 2 hours. This particular walk was done from Helmside as it’s quicker, less busy and free to park :-)

Helm Crag - one of Lakelands finest walks 

Helm Crag walk details:

Helm Crag walk distance: 2.2 miles (3.5km)
Helm Crag walk time: 1.5 hours
Helm Crag walk difficulty: Moderate (quite steep section)

Short Helm Crag walk from Helmside, map route:

The walk to Helm Crag from Helmside is the lesser know route, shorter, and quieter.

As you can see it's up hill all the way to the summit, which is what makes the walk so quick!

Helm Crag walk from Helmside, parking:

On this occasion we manage to bag a car park spot on the verge right near Helmside as shown on the map above - but there isn't much space here.

A good place to park the car where you will have more space (and is free) is directly on the busy A591 road as you approach Grasmere from the North, where you'll see Helm Crag on your right. On the map above I have highlighted this spot with a green circle, which is also a good place to park to walk to the summit of Fairfield.

Helm Crag walk photos:

Once we leave the minor road and pass the Ghyll Foot cottages, the walk is pleasant and follows Green Burn, which we'll eventually cross over on the foot bridge. On your right here you'll see Steel Fell, and on your left is Gibson Knott and Helm Crag.

Helm crag walk near grasmere lake district best route map height lion lamb howitzer
Helm Crag is now firmly in sight and it's quite a short, but steep walk straight up here where the path will zig zag right up to Bracken Hause. You may want to take a few opportunities to "admire the views" :-)

Easedale tarn from Helm crag walk near grasmere lake district best route map height lion lamb howitzer
Once at Bracken Hause the views are impressive in all directions and it's a good place to soak it all in. Here we can just about make out Easedale Tarn

As we then begin the short section uphill once more to Helm Crag looking back to Bracken Hause below, you'll get some brilliant views right down the Gibson Knott ridge all the way down to Calf Crag and Greenup Edge and High Raise in the far distance 

The howitzer Helm Crag
Once at the top of Helm Crag - the first distinctive rocky feature you encounter is 'the howitzer' which is the true summit of Helm Crag. It is possible to get right to the top of 'the howitzer' but it's very tricky (and hard to get back down) and a little exposed - I think the views of it from this angle are the best and you can make out the A591 road to the right coming from Thirlmire, with Steel Fell directly behind the howitzer. 

Helm crag walk near grasmere lake district best route map height lion lamb howitzer
A 100m or so from 'the howitzer' you then encounter the rocky feature known as 'the lion and the lamb' with me pictured here on top of the lion and the smaller rocky feature of "the lamb" to the left below it. This is the rocky feature you can see from the village of Grasmere. 

Helm crag walk near grasmere lake district best route map height lion lamb howitzer
The views here are simply incredible and it's worth stopping here a while to enjoy them. After your done admiring this amazing place, simply head back the way you came and you'll have had a done one of the Lake Districts best walks in under 1.5 hours.

A longer Helm Crag walk via Easedale, map route:

If you want to make a full day of it, another cracking longer walk of 6 miles is to Helm Crag from the Lancrigg Hotel (free parking) near Grasmere. You then head along Gibson Knott, onto Calf Crag and back via Far Easedale Gill. This will take you about 4 to 5 hours and makes for a really good hike.

I hope you have found this blog post interesting and it helps you in planning a walk to Helm Crag near Grasmere. It's a one of the best walks in the Lake District and I'm sure you will enjoy it so add it to your to-do list :-) Let me know how you get on in the comments if you do visit Helm Crag!

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

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