I had booked a guided walk along Striding Edge to Helvellyn in late-June 2014, but after reading about it and watching some unnerving looking YouTube videos and being knackered after climbing Scafell Pike the day before, I decided not to go. Add to this that in my home town London we don't do much hill-walking, preferring to take the lift up The Shard for our views.
However when I went across to the meeting point to tell the guide I wasn't coming on the trip, I did wear boots and my idea of perfect hiking gear - a wooly cardigan (try it, it really does breathe, is warm and repels light showers). He persuaded me to come. Now read on for the exciting and nearly tragic bit.
The hardest bit of the hike for me was the steep slog up towards the ridge. I was sweaty and short of breath. Something weird about me is that when the scrambling starts I get faster and start enjoying myself.
We went out onto to the rocky top of Striding Edge. Even the memorial plaque did not faze me. I was going along fine when I heard a cry and turned to see one of our small group literally bouncing off rocks as he fell. He was very fortunate in that he fell to the right side and his fall was broken by the path a little lower down. He was bleeding from a number of cuts including a head wound. His clothes were in shreds.
His legs were OK but obviously a head wound cannot be laughed off so our guide aborted the route and we went down the way we came to where the ambulance was waiting at Glenridding.
I was disappointed not to have been able to continue, but this experience shows that Striding Edge really is a dangerous place. If he had fallen to the left, that would almost certainly have been his lot, and he was very lucky not to have bounced over the path which ended his fall.
Yes, if you have a head for heights and are sure-footed you will enjoy the Edge as I was doing, but it is not the walk in the park that some make out.
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