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Fell Top Conditions on Friday 18 January

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 11:55

Temperature minus 3.9°C Maximum wind speed 49.8mph Wind chill minus 16.6°C Average wind speed 39.7mph Wind direction S

As the Assessor descended Helvellyn, light snow started to fall and this has continued during Friday afternoon appearing to settle above around 400m. The following report on conditions will, therefore, be different to those likely to be experienced by walkers out on Saturday. It will, though, provide an indication of what the fresh snow is falling onto.

There was a skittering of snow above 550m. The average depth increased with height, although the actual depth varied from nothing at all on windswept areas – such as parts of the summit plateau – to drifts of up to 10cm on N and E facing aspects, although such depth was the exception. The snow was very soft and, especially above 850m, was being blown about on the strong S to SSE winds. There were patches of ice on paths at virtually all levels either where standing water could freeze or where the snow had been compacted. Although today these could generally be avoided, on Saturday such patches of ice will lie hidden beneath fresh snow.

Swirral and especially Striding Edges consisted mostly of bare dry rock poking out above patches of ice and soft snow. Again, walkers tackling such exposed routes on Saturday should expect to encounter more wintry conditions.

With the coldest windchill so far this season experienced today (minus 16.6 degrees C), full winter clothing (waterproofs, plenty of warm layers, hat & gloves), footwear and equipment (including a headtorch) are essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. For those attempting, or traversing, steep routes above the snowline an ice axe and crampons should be carried. Although not used today, conditions will be more wintry on Saturday and it is always better to carry such equipment and not use it, rather than spoil a good day by not being properly equipped!

Lake District Forecast for Sunday

Mainly dry with clear spells overnight. Some good sunny spells at first but cloud increasing with outbreaks of mainly light snow spreading southeast, falling increasingly as rain below about 600m, through the late morning and early afternoon. Some late sunny spells develop in the afternoon to leave a dry and largely clear evening.


Good falling to just a few kilometres in snow and rain, becoming excellent from mid-afternoon.

Hill cloud

Around 75% at first and again from mid-afternoon with occasional cloud above about 750m but falling to close to zero for a time around the middle of the day as cloud becomes periods or persistent around 450m.


Variable winds around 10mph becoming northwesterly 15-20mph from early afternoon.


  • Valley: Around zero Celsius at dawn rising to plus 6 Celsius by day, falling back to zero by midnight.
  • At 800m: Minus 2 Celsius rising close to zero for a time around midday, the falling to minus 5 Celsius by midnight.
  • Freezing level: 600m rising to around 800m for a time around midday then falling to 300m or less from mid-afternoon.

Outlook for next few days

Monday 21 January

Bright, frosty start but increasing cloud brings outbreaks of snow, rain increasingly below about 600m, through the morning, this turning more persistent and occasionally heavy in afternoon. Fresh northwesterly winds turning southwesterly and strengthening. Freezing level rising to around 800m.

Tuesday 22 January

Snow clearing overnight then a bright day with sunny spells and snow showers, these most frequent over western fells. Strong southwesterly then easing northwesterly winds. Freezing level falling to 300m or less.

Wednesday 23 January

A few light snow flurries, but generally dry with clear or sunny spells. Occasionally fresh northerly or northwesterly winds. Freezing level 300m or less.

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