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Fell Top Conditions on Monday 19 March

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:35

Temperature minus 3.6°C Maximum wind speed 39.5mph Wind chill minus 14.9°C Average wind speed 21.0mph Wind direction N

There is a thaw of the recent light covering of soft snow which is especially rapid below 500m and, despite a summit temperature of minus 3 degrees, this thaw on the weekend’s snow was also occurring as high as 850m on aspects catching the sun. The thaw, however, is having little, or no, effect on the old, hard, icy snow that remains above 600m in significant and often unavoidable large patches. There is now a marked contrast in the Lakes between the Spring-like valleys and the alpine conditions remaining on the high fells. Many paths below 600m are now not only free of snow, but also dry; however, there was also ice on paths at all levels, especially above 550m. Above 600m, large areas of fellside are either free from snow, or only have a light skittering of soft snow. There is a significant danger that this can lull walkers into a totally false sense of security as above 600m the old snow patches that they will also encounter are hard and very icy; given the current forecast for an overnight frost, it is highly likely that walkers out on Tuesday will also encounter this hard snow. Hence anyone intending to go above 600m, regardless of route, must carry an ice axe and crampons as boots alone provide no traction whatsoever on this hard snow. Above 800m many rocks were covered in rime ice. The summit plateau was also covered in rime ice and hard, icy snow. This fact, combined with yet another day of strong and gusty winds, meant that crampons were useful even on this flattish ground in order to maintain balance.

Cornices exist on N through E to S aspects; although they have strengthened with the drop in temperature, it is not advisable to check this theory, especially given that some on Helvellyn’s edges have noticeable cracks both below them and also several meters back from the edge, so please keep well back from such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise.

Exposed routes above the snowline, such as Striding and Swirral Edges, are in winter condition and should only be attempted by those experienced in, and equipped for, winter mountaineering. This is due to the amount of steep, hard, icy snow – in the case of the Edges especially near and on their exits.

Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment are essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells; even though the summit windchill today was a balmy minus 15 degrees compared to the weekend’s minus 23 degrees! As previously stated, for those attempting, or just traversing, steep slopes above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are also absolutely essential given the current amount of hard, icy snow. This is the case even on so called “easy” routes such as, for example, the path up Helvellyn from Swirrls car park where the recent accidents (one regretfully fatal) have occurred. The strength of the wind makes it even more important to have a good grip on the hard snow which only crampons and ice axe can provide. Excellent navigational skills are also required especially in cloud as the current snow obscures all landmarks creating challenging route finding.

Lake District Forecast for Wednesday

Continuing dry overnight and through the morning but increasing cloud brings outbreaks of rain and, above about 750m but rising later, snow through the afternoon and evening, the precipitation most persistent across western fells.


Very poor in cloud, otherwise very good falling to several kilometres in rain and perhaps a kilometre or less in snow.

Hill cloud

Falling to around 75% through the morning with occasional cloud above 600m, especially in the west, falling to near zero in the west during the afternoon with periods or persistent cloud above 450m but nearer 25% over the more sheltered eastern fells with periods above 600m.


Westerly at 15 mph through much of the morning increasing 20-25mph during the afternoon with gusts around 40mph over ridges and summits.


  • Valley: Around freezing at dawn rising to plus 8 Celsius by early afternoon.
  • At 800m: Around minus 3 Celsius rising to plus 1 Celsius
  • Freezing level: Below 300m gradually rising above the summits

Outlook for next few days

Thursday 22 March

Rather cloudy with outbreaks of rain and, at times, summit snow, most persistent through the afternoon and evening. Occasionally strong westerly then southwesterly winds. Freezing level close to or above the summits.

Friday 23 March

Cloud and outbreaks of rain and summit snow clearing east through the morning then a bright afternoon with sunny spells and occasional snow showers. Strong southerly or southwesterly winds. Freezing level close to or above the summits.

Saturday 24 March

Clear or sunny spells and showers, falling mainly as snow above about 600m. Fresh westerly or southwesterly winds. Freezing level falling to around 750m.

An overview to the weather in the Lake District


The summer season in the Lake District actually runs from March to October. The driest period runs between March and June.

The weather is renowned for changing rapidly and rainfall is a predominant feature. The wettest area in the Lake District is known as Sprinkling Tarn which receives approximately 5000mm of rainfall every year!


The wettest months run from October to January.

Snowfall typically falls from November to March. The valleys of the Lake District receive around 20 days of snow and 200 days of rain per year.

Winter is actually a beautiful time of year to enjoy the spectacular views.

It’s important to stay safe during the Winter period, especially if you are considering exploring the fells. If you’re a fan of the Lake District in Winter, why not register on one of our Winter Skills Courses? Learn more