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 Lake Distroct fell in height but gives some superb and dramatic views of Grasmere and the surrounding fells - it's one of my favourite summits in the Lakes

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

Whilst Helm Crag is of modest height compared to some of the surrounding fells, the views from its summit are some of the finest and most dramatic and unique in the Lake District. What makes the fell so special is the distinctive rocky summit, where you'll find the well-known rock formation dubbed 'The Lion and the Lamb' which is noticeable from all around the area including Grasmere village, 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. There's also a fantastic longer route if you have the time. This particular walk was done from Helmside as it’s quicker, less busy and free to park :-)

Helm Crag - one of Lakelands finest summits 

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:

This walk route to Helm Crag from Helmside is the lesser know route, but it's shorter, and quieter this way. You can view the OS map route on the link below 

To access the full OS Map features on the link above you will need to download the highly recommended OS Map App. You can save route maps to your phone and whilst walking the app will show you exactly where you are on the route even when you have no signal - so no more taking a wrong turn! Click the banner below to find out more 

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 of what to expect:

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.

Longer Helm Crag walks 

Helm Crag, Gibson Knott & Grasmere Common, 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.

Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man and Easedale Tarn map route:

Helm Crag, Gibson Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man and Easedale Tarn map route
This is a much longer walk at 8.7miles but takes in many well-known locations in addition to Helm Crag such as Gibson Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man and Easedale Tarn. The walk will take you around 6 hours and is an excellent Lake District route.

As mentioned I really recommend downloading the Phone Map App by Ordnance Survey so you can download route maps to your phone such as these and the app will show you exactly where you are on the route even when you have no signal! Click the link below to find out more.

hope you have found this blog post interesting and it helps you in planning a walk to Helm Crag near Grasmere (and beyond!). 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!

Happy Hiking!

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

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1 comment

  1. This is a great read and even though we're in the Lake District quite regular, the parking you chose for this walk is completely new to us. I personally didn't even think of parking here for when we walked Helm Crag. We instead parked up at Grasmere and took a longer route to the base of the Fell first. But this is a great walk of yours if you have limited time or fancy a quick evening walk.

    Your photos are so lovely and the scenery from the top of Helm Crag is spot on. You had similar weather to what we had when we walked here, although ours was windy too. We walked four of the Wainwrights, the were Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, and of course Helm Crag to finish off the round route of the day.

    You can check it out on our website too if you like, or if it is of any help to other readers that you have to see walking routes available.


    But keep up the good work and we'll be checking out a few more of the blogs you have written for more ideas. It's always good to see what fellow walkers are up to and which routes they take too, so a superb read. Thank you.


Thanks for taking an interest in my blog, all comments and questions are welcome! Best, Stuart

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