Fellwalking – Helvellyn

Looking back over Striding Edge

“Legend and poetry, a lovely name and a lofty altitude combine to encompass Helvellyn in an aura of romance; and thousands of pilgrims, aided by its easy accessibility, are attracted to its summit each year”

The Eastern Fells (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

On both my ascents of Helvellyn, I approached from Glenridding on the eastern side, walking towards Patterdale on the permissive path by the side of the road, crossing Grisedale Bridge and then turning right into a lane and then picking up a path to Hole-in-the-Wall and ultimately ascending via Striding Edge. Wainwright describes Striding Edge as the finest way of all to the top of Helvellyn, a judgment that few would disagree with. After lunch at the top, I descended via Red Tarn and Swirral Edge, making a particularly fine circuit walk. The Pathfinder Guide to Lake District Walks describes a good route that follows this basic idea.

My rating: A+. Justifiably one of the most popular walks in the Lake District.
Map: OL 5 – The English Lakes: North Eastern Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Eastern Fells (Anniversary Edition): Book One (Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells)

Striding Edge from Swirral Edge Red Tarn On the track back to Glenridding

Walk of the Month: Werribee Gorge Circuit Walk

Pyramid Hill

A surprisingly rugged walk less than 70km from the Melbourne CBD, this circuit of Werribee Gorge provides an excellent day’s outing.

Werribee Gorge State Park is reached via the Western Freeway from Melbourne. To access the park, take the Pentland Hills Road exit, turning right under the freeway and then immediately left to follow the old alignment of the Western Highway (with the Western Freeway to your left). The road soon dips back under the freeway, turn left immediately thereafter onto Myers Road which leads to the park entrance. The walk can be commenced at either the Quarry Picnic area or down a rather steep gravel road (accessible by 2wd vehicles with care) to the Meikles Point Picnic Area (which is where I started).

I’d recommend travelling anti-clockwise to get the climb over with first. From Meikles Point Picnic Area, the track ascends a few steps to a toilet block and then follows an old vehicle track before dropping left and reaching Myers Road and then the Quarry Picnic Area. From here a signposted old vehicular track ascends through scrub to a junction with the short circuit walk, then passes a side track to Eastern viewpoint (worth a visit), passes Picnic Point before descending to Western viewpoint and then steeply descending to the bottom of the Gorge at Blackwood Pool. At this point the track turns sharply to the South following the edge of the Werribee River (note that the track always stays at the north side of the river, the line on the Parks Victoria parks notes that the track appears to cross is the old viaduct).

This section requires some rock scrambling; one rather tricky section of rocky bluff now has a wire rope attached to assist. On this part of the walk you will pass the attractive NeedlesBeach (a nice place for a break), Lions Head Beach (if you look at the rock opposite – see photo below – you can sort of make out a lion’s face) and Pyramid Rock (aptly named). Eventually, the track reaches the route of the old viaduct and becomes a well formed trail back to Meikles Point.

Note: Care needs to be taken on this walk as some rock scrambling is required. This walk is not one to do in the wet, rain will make the rocks slippery and the river could rise rapidly, leaving you stranded.

Walk date: Sept 16, 2007
Time/level: 1 day moderate (allow 3-4 hours), about 9km
Map: Parks Victoria Park Notes
My rating: B, a good day walk out of Melbourne

Eastern viewpoint Western viewpoint towards picnic point Lions Head

Bushwalking – Mt Buller West Ridge

View of Mt Buller

Mt Buller stands at 1805m, and an approach to the summit via the West Ridge makes for an excellent days walking with great views. The only (minor) drawback is that Mt Buller is also a major ski resort, so the actual summit itself is a bit of an anti-climax, with a road almost to the top – so getting there is most of the fun, and the approach from the west ‘hides’ most of the ski resort development until you are almost at the top.

Mt Buller is located about 45km from Mansfield. The start of the walk is a track just off Doughty Road about 5km or so from the turn-off from the main Mt Buller Rd just after Sawmill Settlement, about 30km from Mansfield. The track climbs to Round Hill before descending into a saddle and then climbing steeply to Mt Buller Summit about 5km from the start.

This whole area is snowbound in winter, and like the rest of the Victorian Alps is subject to cold, wet and windy weather at any time. There’s also a bit of scrambling involved on the narrow ridge, so this is not a route for beginners.

Walk date: Easter 2005
Time/level: 1 day moderate/hard (allow 4-5 hours), about 10km
Map: Buller-Stirling Outdoor Leisure Map (1:25,000)
My rating: A, a very good Victorian bushwalk

over round hill mt buller west ridge 1 mt buller summit sign mt buller west ridge 2

Steavenson Falls and Keppel Lookout (Marysville, Victoria)

UPDATE: Most of Marysville was destroyed by the devastating Black Saturday fires of 2009. It has since been partly re-built and can be visited again. The Marysville Tourism organisation has a website with up-to-date information.

Marysville is a lovely little town about an hour and a half North-East of Melbourne. It provides an excellent location for a day-trip out of Melbourne, especially if you take the drive out along the Maroondah Hwy and then over the Black Spur.

There are some enjoyable day walks in the area, centred on Marysville and the nearby Lake Mountain. A recommended walk, from Daywalks Around Melbourne, takes in Steavenson Falls and Keppel Lookout – “an energetic walk over the forested hilltops overlooking Marysville. There are sweeping views of nearby Mt Margaret and the Cathedral Range”.

The walk commences from the Visitor Information Centre, following the tree fern gully track to Steavenson Falls before steeply ascending to De La Rue lookout, then passing Oxley Lookout and reaching Keppel lookout. The track then descends back into Marysville.

Walk date: Oct 28, 2006
Time/level: 1 day easy/moderate (allow 4-5 hours), about 12km
Map: Marysville-Lake Mountain Outdoor Leisure Map (1:30,000)
My rating: B+, an interesting walk with variety and good views.

steavenson-falls.jpg de la rue lookout cathedral range keppel lookout

Bushwalking – Cradle Mountain Circuit

view of cradle mountain

“The most photographed peak in Tasmania is Cradle Mountain. This mountain is reflected in the waters of Dove Lake and a trip to its summit is an obvious attraction for many walkers”

Day Walks Tasmania

This is a classic Australian bushwalk which we did on a beautiful December day in 2005, following the suggested route in “Day Walks Tasmania” by John and Monica Chapman, two bushwalkers with extensive experience walking in Tasmania.

overland track - barn bluff ascending cradle mountain cradle mountain summit lake willis and dove lake from face track

Bushwalking – Mt. Feathertop via the Razorback

Looking towards mt feathertop summit

This route is probably the most popular way of all to approach Mt. Feathertop. Not only does it avoid a long climb, but it provides a magnificent 10km ridge walk along the Razorback, prior to the final 1.5km pull up to the summit.

The walk starts just below Diamantina Hut on the road up to Mt. Hotham (there’s generally plenty of room to park by the side of the road). The track is well defined and for the most part follows the spine of the ridge. A short distance from the start there’s a Y junction, the left spur continues to the top of a large hill and the junction with Bon Accord Spur, before descending into Big Dipper, the right spur avoids the climb up the hill by sidling along the east side. From Big Dipper the track continues about another 7km or so before it is joined by Champion Spur on the left (west) side. From here Twin Knobs (to the east) are passed and then the path passes to the left of High Knob, which is the top of the Diamantina Spur. The Diamantina Spur track (which avoids going up and over High Knob) joins the Razorback shortly thereafter. The path then curves slightly to the north-west, passing Molly Hill before reaching a track junction next to an old gnarled snowgum that has sheltered many walkers over the years (and miraculously escaped the devastating Razorback bushfire in 2003 which took out most of the ridge and Federation Hut).

At this track junction, the path to the west – the Bungalow Spur track – leads down 500m to Federation Hut, and a very attractive overnight camping area. The main path continues north-east, soon passing the north-west spur track to the left (the walking track on the north-west spur is called the Tom Kneen track after a skier who died when the cornice on Mt Feathertop collapsed under him as he was making a winter ascent). From here the track starts to climb, first moderately and then very steeply, before finally attaining the summit. Note that at the summit there a two ‘peaks’ close together; the highest is the second one when approaching from the south.

Views from the summit are, in good weather, magnificent.

To return, follow the same route back to the Mt Hotham road. Note that while this is an attractive walk in the warmer months, the ridge is very exposed and you should be prepared for poor weather at any time, including rain and strong winds (and snow, even in summer). Note also, that although there are no big climbs, the walk is still over 22km return, so get an early start, particularly if you are relatively new to bushwalking.

Walk date: numerous times, the last on 27 Dec 2007
Time/level: 1 day med (allow 6-7 hours), about 22km
Maps: Rooftop’s Mt Feathertop-Hotham Forest Activities Map (1:30,000), VICMAP Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map (1:50,000)
My rating: A+, one of my all-time favourite walks


View Larger Map

storm over ovens valley looking down from mt feathertop summit

Photos from December 2007:
The Razorback - junction with Bon Accord Spur View of Mt Buffalo plateau from the Razorback View from the Razorback at the junction with Bungalow Spur Old snowgum on the Razorback at the bungalow Spur junction

Bushwalking – Late spring snow at Lake Mountain (Victoria)

lake mountain snow

Victoria is having a bumper snow season this year, but last year was terrible. There was however a brief cold snap which dumped quite a bit of snow around the Marysville area (about an hour and a half from Melbourne) in November including a good deal at Lake Mountain, long after the ski season had closed. This is a very unusual event – Lake Mountain tends to be a marginal snow resort at the best of times – so I decided to take a day off work and head up for a walk and a look around. There were a few other people up there including some cross country skiers, this was probably the best couple of days that Lake Mountain had last year.

Good job I went up when I did, the cold snap finished as abruptly as it started and the weather on the day was warm, so the snow was melting fast (compare the first and fourth photos below). All in all though, a good days walking and recommended for a day trip out of Melbourne during the warmer months.

I parked at the Snowy Hill car park and took the summit track up the Lake Mountain summit (about 1.5km) and then down another km or so to Gerraty’s car park before taking the Echo flat ski trail to Triangle junction and then the Crossways lookout. At this point I turned around and headed back along another of the ski trails to Gerraty’s before taking the road back to Snowy Hill. There are a lot of ski trails in the area so make sure you have a map.

Walk date: November 2006
Time/level: 1 day easy/med (around 4 hours or so)
Map: Marysville-Lake Mountain Outdoor Leisure Map (VICMAP)
My rating: B. An enjoyable and interesting walk – snow at this time of year is rather unusual outside of the Victorian Alps area

summit walk track - morning trail junction boulders on the trail up to lake mountain summit summit walk track - afternoon

Bushwalking – Mt Bogong (20th anniversary)

Mt Bogong summit cairn

Mt Bogong is the highest peak in Victoria at 1986m. Thankfully, unlike Mt Kosciusko in NSW, there are no roads going close to the summit – however you approach, there is no ‘easy’ way. The most popular approach is from the north, utilising the Staircase and Eskdale spurs. While I would normally recommend travelling clockwise (i.e. up Eskdale and down Staircase) on this day, twenty years since my first ascent, I chose to go anti-clockwise – the same way we had taken in 1987.

This route also makes for a particularly fine overnight walk, with camp at Cleve Cole Memorial Hut.

Walk date: March 10, 2007
Time/level: 1 day, hard (allow 7.0-8.5 hours)
Map: Bogong Alpine Area, Outdoor Leisure Map
My rating: A. An essential Victorian bushwalk.


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bivouac hut looking back down staircase spur junction of eskdale and granite flat spurs michell hut

Fellwalking – Scafell

Sca Fell

A beautiful and very warm Saturday for another classic Lakeland walk:

“The most thrilling walk in Lakeland reaches the top of Scafell by way of an ingenious passage that penetrates the rocks of Scafell Crag … A struggle up this unfriendly ladder of rock debris … leads to the foot of Scafell Pinnacle in most impressive surroundings, the Pinnacle soaring above in a tower 500 feet in height. To the right at this point rises a steep narrow channel between rocks, and choked by stones and boulders. This is Lord’s Rake…”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Parking at Wasdale Head we took the public footpath that leads south-east and then south to Lingmell Gill, then following the path as it proceeds upwards through Brown Tongue. Eventually the trail branches into two; following the southerly branch we proceeded to the bottom of Lord’s Rake.

We continued upwards for the traverse up Lords Rake and thus straight through Scafell Crag, before eventually (after a couple more up and down sections) reaching the high ground and a gentle stroll to the summit. Another option if you’d prefer not to climb Lords Rake would be to continue on the path and then take the gully up to Foxes Tarn. Don’t try going up Broad Stand – this is for roped climbers only!

Following lunch we took the path down through Green How to join a bridleway heading north to return to Wasdale Head and a beer (of course).

My rating: A+. Magnificent, but definitely for experienced walkers only
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: Book four, The Southern Fells

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