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Nethermost Pike

 
     

 

Mark J

 

 

Height: 891m (2,923ft) GPS: NY 34408 14154 Walking Routes

Nethermost Pike is a fell in the Lake District which at 891 metres (2,923 ft), is the second highest Wainwright in the Helvellyn range, the tallest of which is Helvellyn itself.


It is located close to the southern end of the ridge, with Helvellyn to the north, and High Crag and Dollywaggon Pike to the south.

Nethermost Pike, along with many of the Eastern Fells, lies between Thirlmere in the west and the Ullswater catchment in the east. The closest villages are Glenridding and Patterdale on the shores of Ullswater, over 8 kilometres (5 mi) away.

The Helvellyn range runs broadly north-south for about 11 kilometres (7 mi), remaining above 600 m (1,970 ft) throughout its length. Nethermost Pike is toward the southern end of this ridge, with Helvellyn itself to the north and Dollywaggon Pike to the south. In common with much of the Helvellyn range there is a marked contrast between the western and eastern slopes of Nethermost Pike.

The western slopes fall smoothly to the head of Thirlmere reservoir, and the tiny church at Wythburn. There are rougher areas, High and Comb Crags in particular, but these do little to change the overall impression of high moorland.

The lower slopes have been planted with conifers as part of the Thirlmere Forest, but above this is a sense of wide open space. On the east, the first impression is all of rock.

To the south east of Nethermost Pike, below the summit of High Crag, is Ruthwaite Cove. Surrounded by crag on three sides, this hollow contains Hard Tarn, a small pool on a rock shelf. This is one of the most difficult mountain tarns to locate, and its black algal bed and clear water combine to give the false impression of great depth. Ruthwaite Cove is now the site of Ruthwaite Lodge, a climbing hut. It was formerly the setting for more industrial activity, with the remains of several underground mines and some shallow open workings visible near the Lodge.

Between Ruthwaite and Nethermost Coves, Nethermost Pike sends out a fine rocky ridge. This ridge, although not as imposing as Striding Edge across Nethermost Cove, ascends by a series of rocky steps for three quarters of a mile, making straight for the summit. It is from this angle, rather than from the west, that the fell earns the sobriquet of "Pike", meaning peaked mountain.

At the bottom of the ridge is Eagle Crag, standing above Grisedale Beck and forcing walkers to take a detour from the ridgeline.

North from Nethermost Pike is the depression of Swallow Scarth, above the head of Nethermost Cove. From here the ridge climbs again, turning to the west as the long plateau of Helvellyn top is reached.

Southwards the ridge steps down over High Crag, and narrows as it swings east around Ruthwaite Cove to Dollywaggon Pike. A heavily eroded path runs along the ridge, but actually bypasses the top of Nethermost Pike to the west, as it leads to Helvellyn.

The summit area is triangular in plan with ridges running to the north, south and east. The actual top is toward the northern corner and set back a little from the drop to Nethermost Cove. There is a rash of stones on the summit although the surroundings are mostly covered in rough grass, and several small cairns have been built.

Other than northward, where the bulk of Helvellyn intervenes, the view is extensive, with much of the Lake District visible. Further ground is brought into view from the summit of High Crag.


The Lake District receives over 12 million visitors a year, many of whom come to climb the mountains. The closest villages to Nethermost pike are Glenridding and Patterdale, 8 kilometres (5 mi) to the east, close to the shores of Ullswater. Both are common starting points for climbing Nethermost Pike or other fells in the Helvellyn range.

The best ascents from the east is the east ridge, reached either from the path to Eagle Crag Mine, or via Ruthwaite Lodge and Hard Tarn.


There are no settlements of note close to Nethermost Pike to the west, and many walkers start from a car park at Wythburn, close to Wythburn Church. This is a popular route which follows a wide track to Helvellyn before branching off right at Swallow Scarth. Alternatives are possible on the smooth flanks of the fell, but all are pathless.

Because of its close proximity to the higher Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike receives fewer visitors. When climbing from the west many people traverse the western slopes on their way to Helvellyn.

Despite this the summit does still receive a large number of walkers, who use a large number of footpaths. The large number of footpaths causes significant disturbance to the summit vegetation, which could be greatly reduced by using fewer footpaths.

 
Walking routes near Nethermost Pike
 

 

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