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  • Helvellyn Range
    Helvellyn Range
  • Charles Gough Memorial
    Charles Gough Memorial
  • a memorial on the way to Helvellyn's summit
    a memorial on the way to Helvellyn's summit
  • Remains of a Helvellyn Mine
    Remains of a Helvellyn Mine
  • Striding Edge
    Striding Edge
  • Swirral Edge
    Swirral Edge
June 14, 2015
Helvellyn’s peaks have inspired iconic writers and artists for centuries, and continue to challenge adventurers and literature enthusiasts.

Found in the heart of the Lake District, Helvellyn is one of the most popular and accessible mountains in England. The mountain reaches up 950 meters, 3117 feet, making it the third tallest mountain in England. The mountain is also the highest peak of the Helvellyn range, a group of mountain ranges that stretches 10 km north-south through the District. Helvellyn’s dramatic landscape varies from east to west. To the east, years of glacial activity carved out rocky coves and sharp ridges. To the west, the mountain gradually slopes down to lake Thirlmere. 

Helvellyn’s eastern side is considered it’s most picturesque. The summit is surrounded by two ridges, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, that provide adventurous routes to the mountain’s peak.

Helvellyn’s summit is flat, partially credited to Victorian workmen. The summit is so flat that in 1926, two pilots, John Leeming and Bert Hinkler, successfully landed an airplane on Helvellyn’s plateaued peak. The accomplishment it marked by a memorial in the summit’s area. 

Along with the mountain’s split landscape, the range’s ownership is also divided. United Utilities, the UK’s largest water company, owns the western side of the mountain down to Thirlmere. Helvellyn’s eastern side is owned by the Lake District National Park Authority.  

Helvellyn has been no stranger to human activity. English miners settled in the mountain in search of lead ore and other minerals, but were unsuccessful. Ruins of these mines are scattered all over the range. 

The mountain has inspired a number of artists and writers. Helvellyn made Charles Gough, an early Romantic painter, famous, but not for any of his works of art. In April 1805, Gough was hiking along Striding Edge with his dog, Foxie. Three months later, a shepherd   discovered the artist’s body, with Foxie staying by his side. Relatively unknown during his life, Gough was considered a martyr of the Romantic movement. He was immortalized in Wordsworth’s poem “Fidelity”, a tribute to Foxie. 

Wordsworth was particularly fond of Helvellyn. The mountain was the subject of many poems and inspired many more. One notable work is his 1816 poem, “To ——, on Her First Ascent to the Summit of Helvellyn”, in which Wordsworth vividly describes a woman’s first sights and thoughts as she reaches the summit of the mountain. 

Last modified on Jun. 20th, 2015 at 10:46pm by Brian Klose.