6th April 2008

Great minds think alike - bumping into John on Fairfield


Walk Overview
Time 09.30 to 13.35
Duration 4hr 5 min
Distance 6.4 mile
Ascent 3230 ft
Walking with On my own
A591 - Swan Hotel - Stone Arthur - Great Rigg - Fairfield - Grisedale Tarn - Seat Sandal - Seat Sandal's south ridge - A591
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, A591 outside Grasmere

I've described this spot as roadside parking, but it is actually a rather long lay-by found between Grasmere and the bottom of Dunmail Raise. It is quite a popular spot, so latecomers may arrive to find it full. If this turned out to be the case the best alternative would be to try one of the car parks in Grasmere itself. It all depends on where you're going of course, but the distance this would add onto your walk is not much at all.


Route Map

Looking back along the A591 towards Steel Fell and Seat Sandal's south ridge.
At this point I was still trying to convince myself that this was a actually good place to walk today. I'd driven past the western and northern side of the Lakes where there was far more snow than this. I almost turned around at the top of Dunmail Raise when I saw the difference in snow cover. I even sat in the car for about five minutes here, whilst trying to make my mind up. Stating the obvious, but in the end I gave in and did the walk I'd set out to do.

Grasmere; village & lake, both seen from the lower section of the fell below Stone Arthur.

A close up of Alcock Tarn.


Once I reached the path above Stone Arthur there was a notable difference in conditions and it was time to start adding layers. This picture was taken at the beginning of the path up to the main Fairfield ridge. This path joins the ridge just below Great Rigg; seen here.

And looking back down the path.

Notice the lack of snow on the eastern side of Heron Pike.

A clear route to Fairfield.

It was arctic at the top of Fairfield today. The wind wasn't strong enough to affect steady walking, but the temperature was certainly dropping towards the lower end of anything we generally get in the Lake District.

And then, when I was just starting to think how few people there were on the fells today, I bump into someone I know. I'm not sure if this is an insult to John or a compliment to Polly (John's dog) or both, but I recognised Polly first. We stood and talked for a few minutes, discussing our intended routes and weather conditions, but on days like this, in places with no shelter it really isn't a good idea to hang around for two long. On the other hand, if we had, we could have shared the approaching "mini" blizzard, which reached John on Fairfield & Cofa Pike and myself on Seat Sandal.

Nice clear conditions looking past Seat Sandal and across towards the Coniston Fells, but looking in the opposite direction it was obvious things were about to change.

Seat Sandal beside a rather dark Grisedale Tarn.

I was heading up the steep path on Seat Sandal now and the weather was closing in fast.

Fairfield, Cofa Pike and just out of sight in the snow is St Sunday Crag.

Seat Sandal summit.

And looking back towards the summit. From here it got too bad to mess about taking photos. I was more concerned with keeping the snow out of my face. You know the conditions are deteriorating when the snow is blowing UP your nose.

Once the snow stopped I passed this lady, who couldn't care less about the weather.

The view down Seat Sandal's southern ridge towards Grasmere.

Great and Little Tongue with Fairfield behind.

By the time I reached the track above Mill Bridge there were a few more snow flurries swirling about. When I looked back up, Seat Sandal seemed to be getting a repeat of the conditions I had earlier.

"I don't know what you're laughing at, I'll bet you were this wrinkly at my age".

David Hall -
Lake District Walks