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Fell Top Conditions on Tuesday 12 December

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:55

Temperature minus 2.4°C Maximum wind speed 18.3mph Wind chill minus 10.2°C Average wind speed 14.2mph Wind direction WNW

Showers of snow were settling on ground above 400m whilst the assessor was on the hill and later virtually down to valley level, so walkers out on Wednesday should be prepared and expect to encounter more snow than the following describes. Once again, the main feature below 400m was the amount of ice on paths both where snow has been compacted and also where water & thawed snow have frozen hard overnight. Such ice is even more treacherous when obscured by fresh snow. Below 300m, there is little significant snow. Above 300m, the average snow depth rises with height although actual coverage varies considerably from little on windswept areas, such as large parts of the summit plateau, to drifts of 60cm above 900m on sheltered SE to E facing aspects. Such depth, though, is definitely the exception with drifts in sheltered spots and hollows of anything between 5cm and 15cm being more commonplace. The snowpack is very soft, apart from where it has been compacted on popular routes making conditions challenging. Especially above 850m rocks are covered in rime ice, as was the summit plateau.

Upland tarns, such as Red Tarn, have frozen but are unsafe to walk on.

Full winter clothing and footwear (including extra layers and waterproofs that can double as windproofs) are essential for anyone venturing out onto the high fells as are the usual torch, map & compass and the ability to use them. For those attempting, or traversing, steep routes above the snowline such as Striding and Swirral Edges an ice axe and crampons are also essential in case ice is encountered. Eg, although the snowpack is mostly soft, there are an increasing number of, albeit isolated, patches of harder snow on the final exit to Striding Edge.

Climbers, owing to the extremely soft nature of the snowpack, the gullies are not in condition and potential damage to fragile alpine plants could be done if you undertake them.

Lake District Forecast for Thursday

Clear or sunny spells and snow showers, the showers expected to be most frequent through the morning and perhaps again during the evening.


Very good falling to just a few kilometres in snow and less than a kilometre in heavier showers and drifting or blowing snow.

Hill cloud

Around 40% with occasional or periods of cloud around 600m, perhaps near 60% over more sheltered eastern fells.


Westerly winds around 30-35mph, gusts around 50mph over ridges an summits gradually easing 15-20mph before veering more northwesterly later.


  • Valley: Falling to around zero Celsius by dawn then rising to plus 5 Celsius by day
  • At 800m: Minus 3 Celsius
  • Freezing level: Around 300m rising to 450m

Outlook for next few days

Friday 15 December

Dry with long clear or sunny spells. Strong northerly or northwesterly winds. Freezing level 300m or less.

Saturday 16 December

Risk of a few snow flurries otherwise dry with clear or sunny spells. Occasionally strong northwesterly winds easing.

Sunday 17 December

Mostly cloudy with outbreaks of rain and summit snow developing. Strengthening southerly winds. Freezing level rising towards 1000m.

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