30th May 2016

An early Fairfield Horseshoe

Time 6am to 12:05pm
Duration 6 hr 5 min
Distance 12 mile
Ascent 3400 ft - give or take a bit
Walking with On my own
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.

Weather Readings

The Gadget
All readings were taken using a Kestrel 2000 Weather Meter
Live temperature recorded at the time I press the hold key
Maximum Wind Speed Maximum wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location Average Wind Speed
Average wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location
Wind Chill
Combination of wind speed and temperature. The gadget does the calculations not me.

Route Map


I've walked the Fairfield Horseshoe many times over the years but this visit has to be one of the most enjoyable ever. The higher section of the walk gave me conditions I certainly didn't expect when I set off this morning and to top it all, I had the place to myself all the way from Rydal to High Pike.

Turning around for a view down to Ambleside and Windermere.

From the vantage point on route up Nab Scar you get this view down to Rydal Water.

Not far from Nab Scar now.

That's me on Nab Scar looking at Grasmere and the fells beyond. Silver How, Lingmoor Fell, the Coniston fells, Crinkle Crags, Dow Fell and the Langdales to name a few.


Looking along ( up ) the higher section of the ridge to Great Rigg and Fairfield.

A close up of Easedale Tarn.


As I look ahead to Great Rigg and Fairfield I notice a small wisp of cloud spilling over Link Hause. It doesn't look like much at this stage but I've saw this type of thing often enough to realize two things; if I get up there soon enough I'll witness some good cloud drama and, I was going to end up walking in cloud for a while. OK, you might not believe that if you'd been up here enjoying the view I was seeing at this moment in time but just wait and see.

Two lakes in view here; Grasmere and Coniston. The group of higher fells are the Coniston fells.

Just before reaching the top of Great Rigg I pass the point where the path from Stone Arthur joins the main ridge path,

Fairfield seen from Great Rigg summit - - - notice the cloud on Fairfield - my predictions are turning out to be correct.

Here I stand for a little while watching the cloud cover Grisedale Tarn and begin to cover Seat Sandal.

Cloud drama on the side of Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn. Anyone already at the top of these fells would have been having a real treat this morning.

Here's a long distance view back down the ridge. It's hard to believe what was going on behind me as I took this picture.

Seat Sandal was completely covered in cloud and it seemed to be spilling over towards the top of Dunmail Raise.

Ah well, just short of Fairfield summit and I enter the cloud. It would have been nice to walk in blue sky and sunshine for the whole walk but as strange as it sounds, the section from here to Dove Crag while I was in the cloud added to the enjoyment of the walk rather than taking anything away from it.


A gap in the cloud offers a view of the sunnier conditions elsewhere. These next few picture may give the impression that the cloud didn't really block out the view or wasn't that thick but it did and it was. While walking over Hart Crag and Dove Crag visibility was down to about ten yards. You wouldn't think it was the same day as the one I'd set off walking on.


Rydal and the ridge I'd walked up this morning.

Fairfield is up there in among the cloud.

This is better. Once I left Dove Crag I was back in the sunshine and it stayed that way for the remainder of the walk.


Looking across to a cloud covered Red Screes.

Heading down to High Pike.

At High Pike I look back to see the cloud beginning to clear from Dove Crag.
It was shortly after taking this picture that I passed the first people of the walk. I didn't feel like I was walking particularly fast but it was still only 9:30 when I reached this point and I was beginning to think I was going to get back too early in the day to head back home. However, when you look at it High Pike is found only a little further on from the half way point of this route and I still had over five miles left to walk. At face value you be forgiven for thinking Fairfield summit marked the middle of the walk which of course it doesn't.

Looking back to High Pike

and now looking back to Low Pike and High Pike.

As I drop down to the High Sweden Bridge end of Scandale I get this clear view up to Little Hart Crag.

High Sweden Bridge.

This is the woodland part of the lovely walk from High Sweden Bridge to Ambleside. Despite there being no people in this picture is was quite busy along here. Lots of hellos and mornings were exchanged when one couple who were clearly kited out for a day on the fells asked how far I'd been. I said I'd had an early start and was just heading back from walking the Fairfield Horseshoe. He looked at his watch, rolled his eyes, shook his head and carried on walking without a word - - - brilliant, obviously didn't believe me but I was smiling because I knew that I'd just had one of the best Fairfield Horseshoe walks ever.

Leaning on a gate with a view towards the Rydal / Grasmere direction.

Not far from Ambleside now and the day was really heating up.


Bridge House Ambleside. I didn't intend to walk past here but as I was so close to the Apple Pie Bakery it seemed rude not to call in for two bath buns and a date & orange slice.
"Why did you need two bath buns if you were walking on your own?"
"Sorry but I don't understand the question"

Not sure where everyone is but never mind, it was nice and quiet along here and that gave me opportunity to reflect on what a fantastic walk I'd had. So, here I am looking back up to the fells I'd walked on almost 6 hours ago, the temperature had now risen into the 20s and I feel more than satisfied that I'm ending the day by walking along a dusty track in such perfect conditions.
Now, I need to find somewhere to sit in Rydal Hall gardens to eat the items bought in the Apple Pie Bakery.


Rydal Hall


And to finish, a picture of Rydal Church.
So what was the hardest part of the day? Trying to turn right out of the junction at the bottom of the road. Eventually I gave up, drove into Ambleside and used the mini roundabout to get myself facing in the correct direction.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks