fell top assessors winter 2023

Lake District National Park Authority launches 23/24 Fell Top Assessor season

It was a frosty start on 30 November when the Lake District National Park Authority’s Fell Top Assessor season launched, with a temperature of minus 4 degrees. Each day between now and Easter, one of the team will summit Helvellyn to get a detailed ground condition report to ensure Lake District walkers can be as prepared as possible if venturing out this winter.

In a year marked by unpredictable weather patterns and an autumn that’s seen four seasons in one day, the Lake District Fell Top Assessor team, now in its 36th year, plays a key role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of winter walkers.

The team of three assessors - Jon Bennett, Zac Poulton and Wes Hunter – work on a rota to provide a daily ‘boots on the ground’ condition report. This, coupled with the official Met Office Weather report provides as detailed a picture as possible to ensure that people know what conditions they are likely to face.

The team share their report on https://www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk/ and share news and updates on X  https://twitter.com/LakesWeather to their 27.5 thousand strong audience, using the hashtag #SummitSafely

Jon Bennett, the Lake District’s longest serving Fell Top Assessor who is now in his 16th season, says: “We provide easy to understand ground conditions reports to allow people to make informed decisions as to whether they want to venture out in the higher fells, stick to the lower routes or sit by a fire in the valley!

“We share daily photos to give a clearer picture of the conditions and offer safety advice throughout the season including what equipment and experience might be required to make a safe ascent. We say it every year but the most important message we need to get out there is that if the conditions are not great, then the best advice is to simply turn around and head back down to safety. The mountains will always be there the next day.”

This year the Fell Top Assessors are offering Winter Skills courses for those who are keen to learn more about serious winter walking. These sessions give advice on how to use an ice axe and crampons properly to keep you safe in winter conditions. These can be arranged as a one to one or a group session on selected dates over the winter months. More information Book a Lake District winter skills course on Helvellyn (lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk)

Fell top facts:

  • The three Fell Top Assessors will be working alternate shifts to make the walk 950m up Helvellyn every day during the winter, including Christmas day
  • In addition to being lucky enough to take in the breath-taking views every day, the assessors brave the rain, snow, and wind chill as low as minus- 23°C to record temperature, snow depth, wind speed, underfoot conditions and assess risks, including potential avalanches.
  • The online service helps protect 18 million visitors and locals from conditions that can change rapidly and fatally on the fells.
  • Although Helvellyn is not the highest peak in the Lakes, it was selected as it is the most popular fell and has a large east facing headwall that retains the snow and ice.
  • Assessors’ reports are combined with Met Office mountain forecasts to give the fullest possible picture.
  • Fell Top Assessors’ kit is sponsored by La Sportiva, Petzl, Lyon and Julbo.


Ask yourself 3 questions before you set off:

– Am I confident I have the KNOWLEDGE & SKILLS for the day?

– Do I know what the WEATHER will be like?

– Do I have the right GEARfelltop assessors on launch day 2023 up helvellyn

Date: 07 Dec 2023