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Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old friend

Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old friend


Postby old danensian » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:49 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Arnison Crag, Birks, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Hartsop above How, St Sunday Crag

Hewitts included on this walk: Fairfield, Hart Crag, St Sunday Crag

Date walked: 16/01/2012

Time taken: 5.5

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 1534m

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As I drove down from the Kirkstone Pass an item on the radio reported that today was “Blue Monday.” The New Year resolutions have been broken, it’s a long time until the next Bank Holiday, and amidst a load of other things, the Christmas spending credit card bills will have started to arrive: depression and gloom all round. The one element they got wrong for this year was that the weather was most likely to be lousy.

For me, this Monday was definitely a bright and colourful blue, and with the prospect of another great day on the Lakeland hills. With the car parked up at Cow Bridge by Brothers Water I was ready to go.

Fairfield-01.jpg
Arnison Crag and Deepdale Bridge


I planned on starting with something new and finishing with an old and favoured friend. The former was to be Hartsop above How which forms a lengthy and alluring ridge that rises straight to the top of Hart Crag. It also acts as a backdoor onto the upper reaches of Fairfield, from which I aimed to revisit St Sunday Crag.

Fairfield-02.jpg
Clouds cling to Hart Crag and Fairfield


MWIS had forecast a 90% chance of cloud free summits, and as I clambered up the path through Low Wood the other 10% was revealed. With everything else clear, a cap hung over Hart Crag and Fairfield. Maybe there would be depressive blue tinge to the day after all.

Fairfield-03.jpg
Hartsop above How with Hart Crag and Fairfield in background


Once the trees were left behind, the ridge up Hartsop above How was an absolute pleasure. Gentle undulations followed one another easily and the frozen ground overcame any potentially boggy bits in between. Optimism convinced me that the breeze ands sun would combine to shift the cloud that still persisted over the tops of my next two objectives.

The optimism hung on a shaky nail as I entered the cloud and visibility shrank to just ten or fifteen yards. For a while I just plodded on upwards. Then, a big cairn appeared out of the mist. I didn’t feel tired so thought that this must herald the start of tougher steeper things to come: but the ground dropped away steeply just beyond. A quick check on the GPS revealed 823m and I was already on Hart Crag.

The path round to Ling Hause became clearer, with the cairns round to Fairfield gradually being illuminated by occasional shafts of sunlight as the clouds began to break up. Then, with perfect timing, just as I reached the shelters on the top of Fairfield, the breeze stiffened and the mists dissipated and disappeared altogether. Huddled figures in the corners of each shelter told of the quickening wind and biting cold. Like the day before on the tops across the valley, it was not a time to hang around.

Fairfield-04.jpg
Mist clears revealing Helvellyn from Fairfield


Fairfield-05.jpg
Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag


Cofa Pike, pinnacle-like, stood in the way of progress on to St Sunday Crag. It’s always looked imposing and challenging, and now wreathed in frost it ratcheted up its intimidation factor. However, on closer inspection, as is so often the case, it softens and lets you through without too much of a struggle.

I was looking forward to a gentle amble across St Sunday Crag, enjoying the memories of previous visits and direct ice-axe thrashes up from Ruthwaite Lodge in Grisedale below.

And then I got hit by a train.

Well that’s what it felt like. I’d spent a sheltered ten minutes snatching a sandwich in the lee of some rocks. Then I got up and tried to walk normally. In the meantime someone had turned up the fan in the wind tunnel by five or ten notches. It shrieked across the ridge and for the next half an hour or so I was flayed and whipped by toggles and straps that seemed determined to detach themselves and head for Scotland as quickly as possible. Any hope of a gentle walk across the top was out of the question; staying upright was paramount.

Fairfield-06.jpg
St Sunday Crag - Helvellyn in background


Fairfield-07.jpg
Gavel Pike - High Street range in background


Finally, as I diverted off to Gavel Pike, then headed on to Birks, the wind’s intensity dropped to a more manageable level and more controlled descent could be enjoyed.

Fairfield-08.jpg
Birks from Gavel Pike


Once over Birks I left the path that swoops down into Grisedale and, bearing off to the right, followed the remains of an old wall down to Trough Head. I wanted to follow the path over to Arnison Crag before heading down into Patterdale.

Fairfield-09.jpg
Trough Head between Birks and Arnison Crag - with Great Mell Fell in far background


Fairfield-10.jpg
Ullswater from Arnison Crag


A horseshoe walk from tip to tip, with contrasting experiences in each part of the day. It hadn’t been a Blue Monday after all.
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old danensian
 
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby SusieThePensioner » Thu Jan 19, 2012 1:54 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your report, what a great day you had! Some fantastic photos aswell :thumbup:
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby Bonzo » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:08 pm

Looks a decent route that. It can't be over 1500m of ascent - can it?
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby L-Hiking » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:38 am

Great report and pictures Nigel :D

My wife Carol and I did the exact same route last March but in Reverse.

Initially we were just off up Arnison Crag, Birks and St Sunday Crag then back via Deepdale. However as normal I suggested we go over Cofa Pike, to Faiffield and back via Hart Crag and Hartsop above How and encouraged to go for it.

Great round this

Cheers LH :thumbup:
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby old danensian » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:55 pm

Yes Bonzo, I was surprised with the GPS reading when I got down - but there are lot of ups and downs on the initial ridge up to Hart Crag - they soon add up.

OD
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old danensian
 
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby ChrisW » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:10 am

Great report OD with beautiful pano pics to accompany it, love the wide view from these :D your description of the wind left me feeling it with you, really enjoyed this wonderful walk :D
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby quoman » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:23 pm

loved reading this report a good day you had and some cracking picture's well done.
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby malky_c » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:20 pm

Nice route - I remember looking down here and wondering if it would make a more interesting variation on the conventional Fairfield Horseshoe 8)
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Re: Deepdale Horseshoe - a new acquaintance and an old frien

Postby DaveB1 » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:14 pm

Was wondering what to do this Sunday and then I read your great report :D It takes in two stray Wainwrights, Arnison Crag and Hartsop above How I've been after and St Sunday Crag which I haven't been up for years! Thanks for the inspiration! :D Dave
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