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A burnt out plod to Fairfield and beyond.

A burnt out plod to Fairfield and beyond.


Postby trailmasher » Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:19 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Arnison Crag, Birks, Fairfield, St Sunday Crag

Hewitts included on this walk: Fairfield, St Sunday Crag

Date walked: 10/04/2015

Time taken: 5.1

Distance: 17.7 km

Ascent: 1255m

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Fairfield-St Sunday Crag-Gavel Pike-Birks-Arnison Crag.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I'm sick of being sick!

Due to a week of work and bad weather, and two of illness this is my first time out in over three weeks. I've had a bad dose of flu like symptoms and got fluid in my right lung which caused bad pains around the kidney area for a good few days.

No, no, please no cards or flowers.

Anyways, feeling a lot better - but not 100% - I decided to get out and give it a go as the weather forecast was promising a good day. My intention was to walk until the body started grumbling and I felt a need to turn back and abandon the walk. This was not to be.

After being berated by my wife for going out 'too soon…' I drove to Patterdale and parked up at around 9:00a.m in the small free car park which is in front of the bunk house type building at the end of the lane leading to Side Farm. The sun was shining and it was mild at 7°c, a few clouds and a slight breeze were in evidence.
1-View towards Helvellyn from the car park.JPG
View towards Helvellyn from the car park.

Bagged up and booted I set off up the main A592 road towards St. Patrick's Church and on to Grisedale Bridge where I then turned northwest and followed the tarmac road as far as Thornhow Crag where I then turned right over the small bridge which straddles Grisedale Beck. A short pull up the grassy bank brought me to the gate under Brownend Plantation and the west side - more or less - of Grisedale Beck.

Once through the gate I headed off along the valley path which would take me to Ruthwaite Lodge Climbing Hut and eventually Grisedale Tarn, a distance of 5.6 kilometres and a height gain of 394 metres from the starting point in Patterdale.
4-The Helvellyn Range.JPG
The Helvellyn Range.

The path on the opposite side of the beck is in much better condition and I would probably have had an easier and quicker walk up to the footbridge as it crosses the beck near Ruthwaite Lodge but, the west side was in glorious sunshine as opposed to the shade of the east side.
5-Ye olde gate.JPG
Ye Olde gate.

I came across a group of five youths parked up at the footbridge across the beck - which is more or less across from Elmhow - who I presumed was doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award, said 'Good morning' as you do, and didn't even get a smile, just sullen looks from the lot of 'em, and it's not 10a.m yet. This walking lark mustn't be to their liking me thinks.
Many years ago there was quite a lot of mining went on in the area the evidence of which is still with us.
6-Eagle Crags old mine workings.JPG
Eagle Crags old mine workings.

Upon reaching the lodge and as I lingered for a look around and a rest as I was feeling a bit out of breath the D of E? group caught me up and also stopped for similar reasons I presumed. Once again I spoke to them and once again there was no response. They must have had a bad experience on their wild camp night.
7-Ruthwaite Lodge below Spout Crag.JPG
Ruthwaite Lodge below Spout Crag.

8-Looking down Grisedale from Ruthwaite Lodge.JPG
Looking down Grisedale from Ruthwaite Lodge.

Leaving them to it I pushed on for the final short 200 metre pull up to Grisedale Tarn passing under Falcon Crag and Tarn Crag before reaching the spot where the Wordsworth brothers parted company for the very last time. It is not far from the tarn outlet - about 30 metres or so - and can be seen from the footpath. There is a metal plaque on a metal post and it is inscribed by the words 'The Brothers Parting', whilst below it and carved on a great rock are two verses from William Wordsworth's Elegiac Verses,
9-The Brothers Parting stone memorial.JPG
The Brothers Parting stone memorial.

the words of which are:-
'Here did we stop and here looked round
While each into himself descends
For that last thought of parting friends
That is not to be found.
Brother and friend, if verse of mine
Have power to make thy virtues known
Here let a monumental stone
Stand - sacred as a shrine.'
The monument is at grid reference NY353124.

I have been here before but always go and have a look at it and wondered what they spoke about on their last time together.

Anyway I am now wondering whether to continue on or have a bite to eat and then turn back as my biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles commonly known as 'the hamstring' are beginning to ache quite badly, especially in my right leg and which appears to be also affecting the knee.
I decide to think on it from the path overlooking the tarn whilst having an early lunch and a drink.
10-Grisedale Tarn and Seat Sandal.JPG
Grisedale Tarn and Seat Sandal.

It's quite pleasant here today with lots of people roaming about and what looks like a strung out troop of Sherpa's gasping their way up the zigzag path of Dollywagon Pike.

I hear a loud, big dog bark and the thundering of many paws getting nearer and nearer to me, and as I turn to face my four legged foe I behold not one, but two Labradors racing towards me ears and tongues flapping in the wind. Having once owned a Labrador I knew exactly what to do. I put out the hand that had held the corned beef sandwich and waited for it to receive the barrage of noses and tongues that would inevitably arrive with a rush. We were friends at once. After snuffling around for the tiniest morsels of aforementioned sandwich they returned to their owners happy in the knowledge that they had bullied me into parting with a whiff and a sniff of corned beef fingers.

Knowing that Fairfield was towering over my back I decided to have a look at it from Grisedale Hause. After my break I now feel much better and wonder if I should tackle this hill knowing full well that if I do I will be committed to continue on the planned route back to Patterdale. I know that there is a path from Deepdale Hause back down to the tarn 'cause I've used it but if I was to take that option there would be no point in getting up Fairfield.

The wind has got up and it's blowing strongly up the valley between Seat Sandal and Great Rigg, and it's cold. It feels so cold in fact after the warmth of the sun sat in the shelter of Fairfield that I have to put my gloves and hat on.

Decision made, I'm going to go up the rough and steep scree path which runs up the south ridge and takes one straight to the summit of Fairfield, more or less. I have been this way before so do know what it entails.
11-Fairfields south ridge path.JPG
Fairfields south ridge path.

After a rough stretch the path has a short paved section which helps to relieve the monotony of slipping around on the loose material of which there is an abundance on this path.
13-Seat Sandal east face.JPG
Seat Sandal east face.

The higher I get the stronger the wind is getting, sometimes almost blowing me off my feet in some places. After the paved section we are back on the zigzag of the loose stoned path but after what seems like an eternity today the path eases off to follow the numerous cairns to the summit.
14-Fairfield top.JPG
Fairfield top.

I arrive gasping at the top, have a stumble about and finally collapse into a shelter cairn overlooking Grisedale where I decide that it's time for another bite to eat and a drink before setting off on my wretched exit from Fairfield. My legs are aching, chest wheezing and I'm looking at Cofa Pike and St. Sunday Crag trying to be brave. From here today, just now, it looks daunting.
16-Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag.JPG
Cofa Pike and St. Sunday Crag.

The weather is crazy. After nearly being blown off my feet on the way up there is hardly a breeze on the summit so I hope the weather continues in that vein for the rest of the walk.
17-Grisedale from Fairfield.JPG
Grisedale from Fairfield.

Cofa Pike is a large lump of rock stuck on the north ridge of Fairfield about 40 metres below its summit.
18-Cofa Pike.JPG
Cofa Pike.

19-Cofa Pike summit.JPG
Cofa Pike summit.

Easy enough to get to it from Fairfield and a bit of a scramble to get down off it on the drop off to Deepdale Hause.
20-Grisedale Tarn from Deepdale Hause.JPG
Grisedale Tarn from Deepdale Hause.

21-The Helvellyn Ridge from Deepdale Hause.JPG
The Helvellyn Ridge from Deepdale Hause.

The path to the Hause is easy enough and continues straight along the ridge of St. Sunday Crag to its summit. This entails a climb of some 170 metres - about 560 feet in old money - although the path is good and straight forward.
22-St Sunday Crag.JPG
St. Sunday Crag.

Had another breather and a drink halfway up and now regretting not bringing extra water with me as I am down to a couple of mouth full's so will have to drag it out best I can. Although I am nearly at the end of the last long climb of the walk and it's nearly all downhill from the top of St. Sunday Crag.
23-Looking back to Deepdale Hause.JPG
Looking back to Deepdale Hause.

After reaching the top I stopped for a breather - yes another one - and felt so naffed that I couldn't have pulled a sailor off my sister.
25-Birks-Place Fell-Ullswater from St Sunday Crag.JPG
Birks-Place Fell-Ullswater from St. Sunday Crag.

Setting off once again I went off east heading down the track for Gavel Pike determined to complete what I had set out to do. I'm making good progress now despite the aching limbs and knee.
24-Gavel Pike from St Sunday Crag top.JPG
Gavel Pike from St. Sunday Crag top.


Leaving Gavel Pike I cut across the top of Gavel Moss and picked up the path which would take me to Birks as I thought that this way would be easier on the legs instead of tramping down the steepness of the usual rough path down under Harrison Crag and Thornhow End.

I dropped off Birks and followed the wall down the grass bank to reach Trough Head where I headed northwest after a short climb to reach the path which runs parallel, but above the wall that runs from Trough Head, behind Glenamara Park and below Arnison Crag which as the path runs just below the crag I decided to visit as well.
31-Arnison Crag.JPG
Arnison Crag.

32-Arnison Crag.JPG
Arnison Crag

A short easy climb to the summit and a quick exit was done in minutes followed by the walk down under Oxford Crag. My legs feel like jelly now with all of the downhill walking from Birks but at least it was more pleasant walking on grass than pounding the legs and knees on hard paths.
33-Ullswater from Arnison Crag.JPG
Ullswater from Arnison Crag.

Upon reaching the bottom of Oxford Crag the path turns east and cuts through the car park of the Patterdale Hotel. I have never felt more like calling for a pint than I do now but, with a 30 mile drive home and a drop of water left I decided that the water had won the day.

Although I have been in pain and bothered with a breathing problem today, it has been a good days walking and I'm happy to have completed it. It started off nice and clear but got quite hazy later on in the day. Maybe it's that dust from the Sahara or some other such like place.

I'm sore, sweaty, tired, and thirsty but that's what it's all about, enjoying the outdoors. I don't normally need to drink a lot when I'm out walking but today has been an exception, so I must make a point of carrying extra water on future walks. Just in case!
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trailmasher
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Re: A burnt out plod to Fairfield and beyond.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:44 am

A fine outing, well done for sticking with it. I'm sure you'll feel the benefit next time you're on the fells
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johnkaysleftleg
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Location: County Durham

Re: A burnt out plod to Fairfield and beyond.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:42 pm

Thank you and I've been out three times since then and you're right, feeling better each time.
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trailmasher
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Posts: 1202
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Joined: Nov 26, 2014
Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria

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