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The Fairfield Horseshoe

The Fairfield Horseshoe

Postby poppiesrara » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:40 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Dove Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, Heron Pike, High Pike (Eastern Fells), Low Pike, Nab Scar

Hewitts included on this walk: Dove Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Hart Crag

Date walked: 18/09/2011

Time taken: 4.5

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 1100m

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A classic Lakes route with some fabulous views, probably better tackled without the interruption of a ferocious storm halfway round, but then isn’t everything...?

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From the very busy tourist hub of Ambleside, the route up the eastern side of the Fairfield Horseshoe starts very pleasantly, through woods and moors with lovely views up Scandale and to Red Screes, and – as with most of the walk – back down to Windermere. The going over Low and High Pikes is surprisingly tough and awkward for such a popular walk though, steep in places and unpleasantly boggy for long stretches (it had been a very wet period, but much of the ground didn’t look like it would ever be anything else – there are even, novelly enough, signs warning of the very worst ‘Deep Bog’s).
1 Red Screes.jpg
Red Screes

2 Brock Crags.jpg
Brock Crags

3 Scandale, looking to Little Hart Crag.jpg
Scandale, looking to Little Hart Crag

4 Southern fells, behind Nab Scar.jpg
Southern Fells, behind Nab Scar

5 High Pike from Low Pike.jpg
High Pike from Low Pike

6 Windermere over Low Pike.jpg
Windermere over Low Pike

The going eases considerably up to Dove Crag, still damp, but much easier in gradient and increasingly well-pathed. From there, with the broad lump of Fairfield starting to fill the eye, the character of the walk changes – rockier and more challenging, especially on the climb up to Hart Crag. The weather was also closing in though, with the forecast ‘brief shower’ becoming a long relentless, cold, and very windy storm – teeth-gritting stuff, and not the best way to see the highest summit of the walk. This was the only really deserted spot all day on a generally pleasant summer Sunday, but with the rain whipping across the featureless plateau and cloud blocking out what might have been great views of the Helvellyn range next door, perhaps unsurprisingly so...
7 Kentmere fells over Middle Dodd & Red Screes, from Dove Crag.jpg
Kentmere Fells over Middle Dodd & Red Screes, from Dove Crag

8 Deepdale from Hart Crag.jpg
Deepdale from Hart Crag

9 Fairfield from Hart Crag.jpg
Fairfield from Hart Crag

10 St Sunday Crag through the mist from Fairfield.jpg
St Sunday Crag through the mist from Fairfield

Good paths lead you along the whole of the second, western half of the horseshoe. This is much the better side to walk, good paths and a much narrower, more defined ridge, giving good views on both sides, and Great Rigg – a nice pointed little rise giving the first view of Grasmere looking stunning in the sun below – is probably the best peak of the day.
11 Hart Crag & Dove Crag.jpg
Hart Crag & Dove Crag

12 Great Rigg.jpg
Great Rigg

13 Back to Fairfield.jpg
Back to Fairfield

14 Seat Sandal & Dollywaggon Pike.jpg
Seat Sandal & Dollywaggon Pike

15 Grasmere from Great Rigg.jpg
Grasmere from Great Rigg

From there, the route over the multiple tops of Heron Pike and Nab Scar is characterised by long drops interrupted by little climbs, with ever-improving view of the lakes and valleys ahead and the route walked behind. Some of the rocks on this path were pretty treacherously slippery this day, but then not everyone will be stupid enough to trust their footing so fully… goodbye to a much-used rucksack, and a slightly disturbing amount of blood, here…!
16 Fairfield etc at head of Rydal Beck.jpg
Fairfield etc at head of Rydal Beck

17 Windermere from Erne Crag.jpg
Windermere from Erne Crag

18 Fairfield Horseshoe from Heron Pike.jpg
Fairfield Horseshoe from Heron Pike

19 Grasmere.jpg

20 Central fells from Nab Scar.jpg
Central Fells from Nab Scar

The descent from Nab Scar to Rydal, much as it is generally on a very well-made slab path, seems to defy logic – it's precipitously steep, and Nab Scar isn’t all that high a peak, so it should be over pretty quickly, yes? Well, it seems, knee-jarringly, to wend on forever… Eventually, it’s a relief to reach Rydal Hall and follow the easy flat path through the parklands for the last mile or so back. A really good walk, but perhaps a little more testing and wilder in places than you might expect.
21 Rydal Water, Ambleside & Windermere.jpg
Rydal Water, Ambleside & Windermere

22 Nab Scar south face.jpg
Nab Scar south face

23 Rydal Water & Loughrigg Fell.jpg
Rydal Water & Loughrigg Fell

24 Restored viewing hut in Rydal Beck.jpg
Restored viewing hut in Rydal Beck
Last edited by poppiesrara on Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Fairfield Horseshoe

Postby SusieThePensioner » Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:40 pm

Enjoyed your report and great photos :D

I've done Fairfield 3 times, twice the way you went and once starting at Nab Scar and much prefer doing the former! One August we had a snowstorm on Fairfield whilst the valley was bathed in sun and another time had to use the compass to find the right path for coming down. But thats one of the joys of walking; unpredictable weather :lol:
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Re: The Fairfield Horseshoe

Postby skuk007 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 7:30 pm

Nice report poppies, sorry to hear about your slip. I did more or less eactly the same route as yourself in reverse and can vouch for the steepness up to Low and High Pike.

Fairfield was freezing that day too so didn't hang about too long. It can be a very breezy summit. :)
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