No shame in turning back
At this time of the year the Lake District only receives just over 7 hours of daylight. You should carry a head torch just in case, but it’s worthwhile making an early start and aim to be back in the pub or coffee shop before it’s needed. Conditions on the hill can change rapidly, so walkers should be aware of their surroundings. There can be localised effects where the wind is accelerated through gaps or over ridges. If you are not happy with the conditions it is always wisest to turn back rather than push on.
There are days of high winds or the threat of avalanche where even the Assessors make the sensible decision not to visit the summit. This season one of the assessors was reduced to crawling on the Wythburn path and made the sensible decision to turn around at 850m.
The mountain will always be there and you can always come back when the conditions are more favourable. If things are taking a turn for the worse then take a moment to think about the best course of action. Put all your layers on, find some shelter, eat some food and have a drink.
The Lake District is lucky to have 12 Mountain Rescue Teams, run entirely by volunteers and donations. Two of the busiest, Patterdale and Keswick, cover the area around Helvellyn. The majority of the incidents involving winter walkers dealt with by Mountain Rescue have occurred on Swirral or Striding Edge ridges or on Swirls Steep on the Thirlmere side of the mountain.
To call Mountain Rescue dial 999 and ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue. You can also register your phone to enable 999 text calls, ideal when the mobile signal isn’t very good.