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Hart Crag, Fairfield and Grisedale

Hart Crag, Fairfield and Grisedale

Postby nigheandonn » Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:11 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Fairfield, Hart Crag, Hartsop above How

Hewitts included on this walk: Fairfield, Hart Crag

Date walked: 31/08/2014

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After the Glenridding Dodd diversion, the plan was to do a kind of alternative Fairfield Horseshoe - up by Hartsop above How, and down by Saint Sunday Crag.

So I set off along the road south from Patterdale for possibly the last time, heading for Bridgend and the start of the Hartsop above How ridge - past the entrace to Deepdale, past the first path which cuts across the field, and onto the second which goes up through the woods.

The ridge was supposed to be an easy walk, but right from the start I was finding it hard going - I was just slow and weary. I'd finished the day before feeling as if I could go on forever - and had bounced down a mile to the pub and back after finishing the main walk - but I'd lost all that energy now; I suppose it had been a long day, and I was feeling it.

So I plodded on, hoping that I'd get my second wind at some point, and reassuring myself with the fact that I often did find the start of a walk harder than the end, as I came out of the woods and the view opened up ahead.

Hart Crag and Gavel Pike

There was no chance of getting lost on the way up - it was just a case of following the wall as it rose, and looking over it for views of the far eastern fells.

The first landmark, where another wall joined, seemed a very long time in coming, but eventually turned up behind a rocky outcrop, and after that it was on again, with flatter bits and steeper bits and drier bits and wetter bits.

Eventually a steep rise brought me out on the summit - but after a moment of satisfaction, it wasn't quite right - the wall was still with me, instead of having swerved away to the left, and the ground wasn't falling away like I expected. So after a bit of working out to decide that this was the top of Gale Crag, it was onwards and upwards again.

It was a nice ridge by now - grassy and heathery and with a nice winding path, and I was starting to find the going a bit easier - but it was long.

Looking along the ridge

The views were improving as I got higher, first into Kirkstone down below, and then into Houndshope Cove ahead, and a good view over to the Priest's Cave on Dove Crag.


Houndshope Cove

The real summit was less of a pull up than the false one, just the highest point on the high ridge, but falling away dramatically towards Dovedale, with some very adventurous sheep exploring the crags below.

Hartsop above How first summit

From the dip after the summit it stopped being up and down and started to just be up - a second possible summit cairn was higher than the first but definitely onto Hart Crag territory, with the ground rising again beyond it.

Hartsop above How second summit

From there it was a fairly easy grassy walk up to an obviously stony finish.

The stony bit

I had been dreading another endless pull up to the summit like on Dove Crag, but although a bit loose, the steep stony bit was surprisingly quick, and I was finally on the second summit of the day. The views were pretty good, but I didn't have time to appreciate them - until now I'd been mainly focussing on getting to the top, but now time was pressing badly.

Hart Crag summit

Having got this far, there didn't seem to be any point in not going to Fairfield - apart from being so close, it was the key to the simplest ways down. So it was down to Link Hause and up again above Scrubby Crag, and then a clear flatter path to the summit, and good views down Rydale along the way.


Fairfield summit is a great flat place, definitely a field, but not very fair, as it's covered with small spiky rocks. I didn't have much time for looking round, however, and I had a decision to make.

Fairfield summit

Fairfield and Helvellyn

With just over two hours left, a descent over St Sunday Crag was theoretically just about possible, and would keep me close to the original plan - but I knew how slow these things sometimes turned out to be, and I didn't fancy hurrying over the first descent past Cofa Pike. The alternative was the steep but less craggy descent to Grisedale Tarn, and then a plain walk out the valley, which appealed as I'd thought I was never going to get into Grisedale (I do like bagging valleys!), and also left me a good walk over St Sunday Crag for another day, not just the two small hills on the Patterdale side when my next planned trip was to Grasmere.

So the next problem was just to get down - I could find the Cofa Pike path, and the next one round which seemed to be the ridge path to Great Rigg, but nothing in between that might take me to the tarn. It took quite a bit of thinking to realise that I'd changed valleys and was now looking down Tongue Gill, not Rydale, so that the ridge to the right of the valley was Seat Sandal, with the path to the tarn.

Grisedale Tarn

The path down was steep, and quite loose, but it was always clear, and felt quite quick.

Looking towards Grisedale

From the tarn the path down the valley was rough and stony to start with, but quite solid, and I just had to bounce down it as fast as I could.

It took so long getting to Ruthwaite Lodge that I thought I must have missed it - the track was still quite rough and definitely not 4mph terrain, but I really hadn't thought it was 2mph terrain, as it turned out to be after the hut finally turned up!

Ruthwaite Lodge

Fortunately things improved soon afterwards, with a much better track after the bridge over Grisedale Beck, and I was able to hurry along counting out 15 minute miles, and looking at as much of the scenery as I had a chance to - and sheep marked with letters, which made a change from the usual coloured blobs.

Alphabetical sheep

Further down the valley I started passing people - both those heading out more slowly, and wanderers from Patterdale coming in. The valley was opening out, and the track had improved again, getting ready to go through a gate and become officially a road.


The very last part became more wooded and started to pass more buildings - I ended up at the road end with about 5 minutes until the bus was due, and it came along about 5 minutes after that, for the start of a journey home to end up standing in Princes Street watching the festival fireworks and complaining that my feet hurt. Which they did, but the fireworks took my mind off them!

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