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Helvellyn is a heavyweight of The Lake District. The third highest mountain in England is obviously popular, putting it in the same league as Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Blencathra. For some, it would sit proudly at the top of this prestigious group, owing to what is probably the most famous mountain feature in England - Striding Edge. Striding Edge is a sublime narrow arete that stretches for the better part of a kilometre up to Helvellyn's grand, flat summit.


In summer, it is a classic grade one scramble that forms many people's introduction to what an airy mountain ridge can offer. In winter, it is transformed into a truly spectacular mountaineering experience. For someone new to ice axes and crampons, this is an obvious benchmark. It promotes the ambitious hill-walker to amateur mountaineer; it tests the mettle of the individual who traverses its rocky crest. This is life-affirming stuff.


Once off Striding Edge, Helvellyn keeps the ante firmly notched up. A traverse along its summit ridge to its satellites Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike is thoroughly recommended, as views to St Sunday Crag and Fairfield open up to the south and to the north Striding Edge is seen in dramatic profile. Dollwaggon Pike's summit is a gem, jutting out above the valley below and offering staggering views of the surrounding mountains.


After retracing crampon marks to Helvellyn, one soon realises that Striding Edge is not alone - it has a brother. Swirral Edge may not be as long or narrow as Striding, but it is just as well known to Mountain Rescue and needs negotiated with care. And the glittering prize at the end? The conical frame of Catstycam - 10th highest in The Lake District, a glorious mountain in its own right and yet another truly spectacular airy summit viewpoint.


It is no wonder that Helvellyn is regarded as a big hitter amongst England's biggest hitters. A horseshoe taking in Striding Edge and Swirral Edge is certainly up there with the best days imaginable in the Lakes and for those who like an exciting, continuous, airy walkway and a frisson of danger - Striding Edge is hard to beat.


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