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Fell Top Conditions on Wednesday 21 March

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:15

Temperature minus 2.1°C Maximum wind speed 36.4mph Wind chill minus 12.7°C Average wind speed 29.9mph Wind direction WNW

There is now a marked contrast in the Lake District between the warming valleys with their increasing number of Spring flowers, and the winter conditions that remain on the high fells. For those who dislike the snow, stay below 650m and you will not encounter much, if any. Even above 650m large areas of fellside, especially predominantly S facing, are either free of snow, or only have a light skittering. This, though, can lull walkers into a totally false sense of security as above 650m there are also large, often unavoidable, patches of old, hard, sometimes – especially above 800m - icy, snow. These old patches have undergone a thaw/hard freeze cycle. Thus even if summit temperatures temporarily rise marginally above freezing (as currently forecast) it is unlikely to have much effect on this hard snow, so walkers out on Thursday, and planning to go above 650m, must expect, and be prepared to encounter, this hard snow. Above 800m many rocks were covered in rime ice. The summit plateau was covered in ice and hard snow along with patches of bare ground on aspects that had caught the sun.

Cornices exist on N through E to S aspects and some on Helvellyn’s edges have noticeable cracks both below them and also several meters back from the edge. As temperatures rise, such cornices will become increasingly unstable, 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; again despite the warming valleys, it was minus 2 degrees on the summit with a windchill in minus double figures. For those attempting, or just traversing, steep slopes above the snowline an ice axe and crampons are also essential given the current amount of hard snow as boots alone provide no traction whatsoever. 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. Indeed most walkers today without ice axe and crampons were sensibly turning back when reaching steep slopes of hard snow – one lone Herdwick sheep even did the same on Striding Edge’s exit!! Excellent navigational skills are also required especially in cloud as the current snow obscures all landmarks creating challenging route finding. Conversely, the cloud was above the summit today giving outstanding views, so come properly equipped and enjoy them!

Lake District Forecast for Friday

Cloudy with outbreaks of rain overnight and early morning. Mostly dry during daylight hours, the cloud lifting and breaking to become bright with occasional sunny spells. However, the odd light shower is possible, these wintry over the summits.


Poor or very poor at times over the tops, particularly overnight. Mostly good or very good lower down

Hill cloud

40 to 70% during daylight hours, occasional or patchy cloud, bases 600 to 900m. Nil to 30% overnight and early morning.


West or Southeast 15 to 25mph, but 35mph overnight.


  • Valley: Plus 5 rising to 9 Celsius
  • At 800m: Plus 3 Celsius falling to Zero Celsius
  • Freezing level: Above the summits becoming 800m

Outlook for next few days

Saturday 24 March

Mainly dry and bright with some sunny or clear spells. Light to moderate west or northwest winds at height. Scattered or isolated showers possible, these wintry over the tops. Freezing level around the summits.

Sunday 25 March

Mainly dry and bright with some sunny or clear spells. Light to moderate westerly winds at height. Scattered or isolated showers possible, these wintry over the tops. Freezing level around the summits, although lower early and later in the day.

Monday 26 March

Mainly dry and bright during the first part of the day, but becoming wet and windy later. Strengthening southerly winds, gales possible later. Freezing level around the summits, rising later.

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