12th January 2013

A Fairfield Horseshoe


Walk Overview
Time 09.05 to 15.05
Duration 6 hr
Distance 12.2 mile
Ascent 3400 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
Rydal - Nab Scar - Heron Pike - Great Rigg - Fairfield - Hart Crag - Dove Crag - High Pike - Low Pike - High Sweden Bridge - Ambleside - Rydal Hall - Rydal
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking next to Rydal Church

The roadside parking area runs from the church up hill towards Rydal Mount. Even though there is room for quite a few cars, this is a very popular place indeed and you will need to arrive early if you hope to get a space.

Just around the corner you'll find the Badger Bar offering food and drink.

The parking is actually free, but there is an honest box on the fence next to the church for those who are grateful for a days cheap parking.


Route Map

The route for today's walk was decided last Saturday (depending on the weather). Up until this morning, what we had expected was low cloud with the remotest possibility of the highest fells being above the cloud. On more than one occasion we said "this just wasn't forecasted". Was that a complaint? Absolutely not. It was a fantastic day and the high cloud actually enhanced the walk rather than taking away from it.

On the ascent of Nab Scar and looking across to High Pike and Low Pike; our last two fells of the walk. The high fell at the back is Red Screes, , , we won't be going there today.

It looks a bit more wintry over on the Langdales and Bow Fell than it was where we were.

Herron Pike summit, with a view across to the higher section of todays walk.

Looking down to Helm Crag. It doesn't look very high from up here, but it's still high enough to get the heart rate up and make you puff and pant a bit. The view from the top is also superb.

Ahead of us is Great Rigg. The ridge coming into the picture from the left comes up from Stone Arthur. If you're not walking the full horseshoe the Stone Arthur offer what it probably the quickest and easiest route onto Fairfield.

Front to back you have Grasmere, Silver How, Lingmoor Fell and Weatherlam / Swirl How, Great Carrs.

There are lots of fells in this picture and most of them seem to blend in together because of the snow. So, the easiest one to point out is Sergeant Man, , , only joking, , , it's Helm Crag. The one above the green fields.

If you really want to see Sergeant Man go straight up to the top of the snow snow covered fells from Helm Crag summit and then go across to the right for a little bit.

I took this picture just past the point where the path from Stone Arthur joins the main ridge route.
In the photo you can pick out 5 lakes and 1 easily spotted tarn. I'll leave you to find them and name them.

Great Rigg summit in front of Fairfield. Over on the left is Dollywaggon Pike which leads across to Nethermost Pike and of course Helvellyn.

Just past the summit and looking a little bit round to the left Seat Sandal comes into the view. If you look carefully you can see Grisedale Tarn.

Another close up looking across towards the Langdales area.

On top of Fairfield now and although this isn't the cairn generally recognised as the 'true' summit, this one just about the most centrally placed of them all.

Looking across to St Sunday Crag and Cofa Pike. Notice the lack of snow over there.

Still on Fairfield and now looking across to Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn.

When we were leaving Fairfield I made the remark that if Fairfield was the highest point on the walk it must be all down hill from there to Ambleside. "Yes, apart from the up hill bits". And here you can see Hart Crag, definitely an up hill bit on a down hill route.

Southern Lakeland silhouettes.

A view back to Hart Crag.

Just as I was thinking we weren't going to get any sunshine, I spotted The Nab and Rest Dodd being lit up.

This is more like it. A bit of blue sky and sunshine makes all the difference.

Looking back up the wall again, this time with Great Rigg and Fairfield in view.

Little Hart Crag and Scandale Pass.

High Pike summit.
I couldn't help notice how much the wall is slowly but surely falling into disrepair. More breaches, more stones on the ground and more sections that are not exactly as vertical as they used to be.

, , , , and now we're on Low Pike.
That's High Pike behind and Little Hart Crag on the right.

High Sweden Bridge.
There are two options to get back into Ambleside from Low Pike. You have the Low Sweden Bridge option or as we did today the High Sweden Bridge route. They're both as good as each other, although if it's a really nice day, Low Sweden keeps you out in the open a little more.

On route between High Sweden Bridge and Ambleside we passed by another of the increasing number of money trees now growing in the Lake District. I must start carrying a pair of pliers around on these walks with me.

Looking across to Nab Scar, Heron Pike and Great Rigg from the track between High Sweden Bridge and Ambleside.

This is the track I was talking about and the pointed fell catching the sunshine is High Pike.

Rydal Park; I know it's only a short walk from the road to Rydal Hall, but it's usually done at the end of a long walk and it feels much further than it actually is.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks