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
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
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
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.