Drawing 45: The summit of Helm Crag

Direction of view: NNW

Notes: The scene is unmistakeable and unchanged (though the snow comes and goes!).  In his notes to this sketch AW writes that the highest point of the fell “has defeated at least one good man” [ie himself!].

A popular scene for Wainwright, also to be found as Lakeland Mountain Drawing 25, on page 111 of Westmorland Heritage, page 238 of Wainwright in Lakeland, and three times as a photo: page 20 of Fellwalking with a Camera, photo 18 in Fellwanderer, and page 47 of Memoirs of a Fellwanderer (where the sketch is also reproduced).

The mountain drawing is in winter, with a walker gazing up at the summit, but there the similarity with the sketch ends.  Amongst other changes, a figure in the foreground of the sketch (wearing a flat cap and apparently smoking a pipe – could this be Wainwright?) is not in the mountain drawing.

Comments: I first took this picture on slide film on 29th June 1977.  Peter Messenger and I had spent the night in a tent on the summit of Helm Crag, and were up very early, taking this picture around dawn (image 1).  Mist lay in the valleys below, but soon cleared with the sunshine.  We then had one of our greatest bonanzas of sketches snapped – 14 in the day in Ambleside and Great and Little Langdale, then over the passes to Eskdale.

I took this picture for the digital project on 2nd August 2014 (image 2).  It was a wet morning and Anne Setright and I went to Potfest at Penrith, then watched the “Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike” film at Rheged.  Inspired by this, we determined to get a walk done, and parked near the Traveller’s Rest. We followed a lovely zigzag path out of Greenburn to Bracken Hause, and then bagged Gibson Knott before heading for Helm Crag.  We were lucky that sun broke through whilst we were getting this sketch, and a nice shot was secured – though perhaps from a pace or two to the right of where AW stood.  Anne posed for one of the two figures shown in the sketch.