BB0918 : Hello Dollywagon

Thursday 11th June 2009

“Am I being a wimp?” I asked Bryan.

“Frankly, yes” he replied “but the alternative route I suggested is an interesting mountain adventure.”

Now “interesting” and “adventure” are two words which when uttered by Bryan are not entirely encouraging to knowing wimps but I decided to trust his judgement.

We had a guest BOOTboy with us today: Tim, an old university friend now living in Dorset. A long time member of the The BOOTboys Inter-continental Fan Club, his request had been to go up Helvellyn via Striding Edge.  He, in common with Bryan, is a veteran of Everest base camp and likes that sort of thing.

The problem was not entirely my vertigo although that played a part.  I should perhaps explain that vertigo is not just the fear of falling from an exposed position but also having the little demons in my head that talk to me, encouraging me to jump!

However, I have come to terms with the fact that one day I will revisit Striding Edge and hope to keep the little demons (and my legs) under control.  The problem today was that the forecast was for rain showers passing through which, over the higher fells, would fall as sleet or snow.  The last thing that I wanted to happen was to be stranded on the edge on wet rock.  So I wimped out.

Instead we would go up Grisedale to the Ruthwaite Lodge Climbing Hut and then the direct route up the Tongue, skirting the cliffs, to Dollywagon Pike.  Advocated by Wainwright as the most exhilarating way to the summit, he observed that it was rarely used.  Despite the popularity of his books, that remains the case, judging by the lack of footprints on the ground.  Perhaps it is due to his warning that it should not be attempted in bad weather.

Dollywagon Pike

Ruthwaite Lodge Climbing Hut

I have omitted mention of another potential hazard we had encountered on the journey. 

As we descended the Kirkstone Pass in the car, we saw a lot of youths with skateboards and one standing by the side of the road, behelmeted and masked and carrying a black flag, seemingly to start a race.  As far as we could tell, they were gong to have a totally illegal and potentially lethal road race down the Kirkstone Pass!  But we drove by before the flag fell.

We parked at Patterdale and walked past St Patrick’s Church, looking splendid with its fine clock tower and churchyard with its rhododendrons in full bloom.  

St Patrick's Church

Rear view from the cricket pitch

Our route lay up by Grisedale Beck.  The path started gently and gradually eased into uphill mode so that, by the time we reached the climbers' hut, we felt as if we had started to do some work.

After a coffee stop, we restarted and the real work began.  It is a long, steep pull up but, as Bryan had promised, an interesting mountain adventure.  Hands-on in places but no undue exposure.  Good views back down the valley to Place Fell and across to St Sunday's Crag and Fairfield.

Grisedale, St Sunday's Crag, Fairfield and Tim

Not far below the top, the weather turned nasty and a shower set in. Wet weather gear was put on and when we crested the summit of Dollywagon Pike, it was not actually raining but it was grey and windy and remarkably cold for June.  We contemplated aborting but Bryan suggested we dropped down out of the wind and took lunch.

Inevitably at lunch time, thoughts turn to Tony.  Not just because of the eccentricity of his must-eat moment but because of what has happened to him.  Regular readers will have noticed that he has not been out with us for some while.  The fact is that on his last couple of outings he had been experiencing pain and on consulting his doctor discovered that two of his arteries are seriously clogged.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that a week on Monday he will undergo a procedure that should clear his arteries and the prognosis is very good that he will quickly make a full recovery and be able to rejoin us before too long.  

Tony, we wish you well and look forward to seeing you back on the fells.  To paraphrase Hello Dolly, it will be good to have you back where you belong!

Looking back down Dollywagon

Re-cresting the Dollywagon summit, we could immediately see that the day had changed for the better.  

The bad weather had passed through and the air quality was superb, although still very cold. Despite it being June, it must have been close to freezing as I lost the feeling in my hands for while.

There was a good view back down our Dollywagon ascent route.

The panorama was superb.

The Lakeland panorama

St Sunday's Crag, Fairfield and Dollywagon Pike

We climbed Nethermost Pike and watched the hordes edging their way slowly along Striding Edge.  We joined the masses as they emerged from the final scramble onto the path to the Helvellyn Summit.

Helvellyn and Striding Edge from Nethermost Pike

Striding Edge nearing Helvellyn

Striding Edge from Swirral Edge

After the team picture at the trig point, our objective now was to descend by Swirral Edge.  

We have been up it in recent times but I had not been down that way for at least 40 years.

It was pretty much as I remembered it. Not too bad but I am painfully slow on that tricky rocky sort of terrain- sorry boys for holding you up.  I got caught in a bit of traffic whilst younger, fitter, braver souls rattled along the ridge!


Swirral Edge

We contemplated a quick up and down of Catstycam but decided that we had had enough adventure so made our way down past Red Tarn to the Hole in the Wall.  

Looking back up to Helvellyn and Catstycam

Shortly afterwards we met a disparate party of Jewish Schoolboys from Manchester, all dressed in white shirts and black trousers and skullcaps.  Their master, or perhaps their rabbi (I hesitate to use the word “leader”), looked like he had stepped out of the Old Testament and seemed quite unsure of what they were doing.  He had a map in his hand but didn’t seem to realise that Helvellyn via either of the Edges was a bit of a challenge for an unprepared party.  Let’s hope they just stopped at Red Tarn and had fun there.

Farewell Dolly!

The return back to the car was otherwise uneventful and the drive home, likewise.

Sadly, there were no skateboarders hurtling down the Kirkstone Pass for me to wipe out.

The verdict on Bryan’s route was that he was quite right.  It had indeed been an interesting mountain experience and much preferable to being one of the tourists on the regular route up Helvellyn.  

Even if I am a wimp.

 Don, 11th June 2009

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Thursday 11th June 2009


10.6 miles

Height climbed:

3,268 feet


Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn

Other Key Features:



Bryan, Don, Tim


If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB0918.

Steve G advises: "For those who like to look at your meanderings but use Tracklogs or other software then your logs can be converted using the freeware utility GPS Babel.

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


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BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear, and certainly not from any skin head associations or other
type of social group,
but is in memory of
Big Josie,
the erstwhile landlady
of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale,
who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973
and other odd evenings many years ago!

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2009 Outings

  • BB0901 : A Gordon Day Out
    Thursday 8th January
  • BB0902 : Thank You,
    Aunty Ethel!
    Wednesday 14th January 
  • BB0903 : A Wicked Hike???
    Wednesday 21st January
  • BB0904 : Take a Mug With You
    Sunday 25th January
  • BB0905 : Down in the Forest
    Thursday 29th January
  • BB0906 : Not How But Where?
    Thursday 5th February
  • BB0907 : Binsey Can Wait
    (but Uncle Monty Can Not)
    Thursday 12th February
  • BB0908 : Badgers on the Line
    Thursday 5th March
  • BB0909 : It's not a W!
    Thursday 12th March
  • BB0910 : Up on the Roof
    Thursday 26th March
  • BB0911 : Not the Blisco Dashers
    Thursday 2nd April
  • BB0912 : John's Comeback
    Monday 6th April
  • BB0913 : Two Churches, a Pulpit and a Cherry Picker
    Thursday, 23rd April
  • BB0914 : Companions of the BOOT
    Thursday 30th April
  • BB0915 : The Gale Force Choice
    Thursday 7th May
  • BB0916 : The Comeback Continues
    Thursday 21st May
  • BB0917 : BOOTboys Encore !
    28th May - 2nd June
  • BB0918 : Hello Dollywagon
    Thursday 11th June
  • BB0919 : Has Anyone Seen Lily?
    Thursday 18th June
  • BB0920 : Ancient Feet on the Greenburn Horseshoe
    Thursday 25th June
  • BB0921 : The Tebay Fell Race Walk
    Thursday 2nd July
  • BB0922 : For England and St George 
    Thursday 9th July
  • BB0923 : The Coniston Outliers
    Friday 31st July
  • BB0924 : Little To Be Said In Favour?
    Thursday 6th August
  • BB0925 : The Third Night of the Rescue 
    Thursday 13th August
  • BB0926 : Long Wet Windy Monty Bothy Fun?
    Thursday 20th August
  • BB0927 : Dear Mrs Scroggins
    Friday 11th September
  • BB0928 : An Ard Day's Hike
    Thursday 17th September
  • BB0929 : A Canter of Convalescents?
    Thursday 24th September
  • BB0930 : BOOTboys International Autumnal Expedition
    Wednesday 23rd to
    Sunday 27th September
  • BB0931 : A Bit of an Adventure
    Thursday 1st October
  • BB0932 : Paths of Glory?
    Thursday 8th October
  • BB0933 : When Yorkshire Was Welsh
    Wednesday 14th October
  • BB0934 : Unlocking the Whinlatters
    Thursday 22nd October
  • BB0935 : A Tale of Crinkley Bottoms
    hursday 5th November
  • BB0936 : Aye Up What?
    hursday 12th November
  • BB0937 : Where Eagles Wade
    Tuesday 17th November
  • BB0938 : After the Floods
    Thursday 26th November
  • BB0939 : The Mystery of the Missing Glove
    Thursday 10th December
  • BB0940 : A Too Short Walk
    Thursday 17th December
  • BB0941 : One Hundred and Onesfell
    Tuesday 29th December



  • BH0901 : Back to the Beginning 
    Thursday 13th August
  • BSKIB09 : BOOTskiboys in Saalbach
    14th - 21st March
  • BB09XX : Los Chicos y las Chicas de la Bota
    11th - 14th May
  • BB09Bav01 : Peaked Too Soon
    1st September



Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys click on Wainwrights

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!



 BOOT boys