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Fairfield? Almost, but not on this walk.

Fairfield? Almost, but not on this walk.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:11 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Great Rigg, Heron Pike, Nab Scar, Stone Arthur

Hewitts included on this walk: Great Rigg

Date walked: 29/08/2020

Time taken: 3.59

Distance: 10.8 km

Ascent: 824m

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Nab Scar to Stone Arthur via Alcock Tarn route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

It was the Bank Holiday weekend, or to be more precise, soon to be Bank Holiday Monday, and as this was a Saturday it was only two days away but due to a great influx of visitors on Staycation that had extended their stay by a couple of days the LD was still over run. Friday’s wet weather dictated our choice of walking on the Saturday instead of Friday and because strong winds were forecast we didn’t feel like going up too high today so we decided to walk part of the Fairfield Round by starting out on what we thought would be a quiet way to go. What a hope.

As it was only a short walk we set out late, well late for us, and we just knew that the hills would be busy by the number of cars parked up in every available space that we saw on our way to Grasmere where we would find a space on the long lay-by on the north bound A591 road just north of Grasmere at NY33811 08474, and like many others a favourite of ours ’cause it’s free. It was dry, mostly cloudy, and a cool 10°c as we set off to cross straight over the road to follow the minor road that leads to Tilly’s Cottage before circling around to follow it to the way marked narrow metalled lane that runs alongside Greenhead Gill at NY34086 08401. We were now going to make our way up to Alcock Tarn as a starter for the Fairfield Round, or whatever we get up to.

As soon as we had left the ‘avenue’ and turned onto the way marked lane it felt as though we had entered a different world with the sounds of the gill and its overhanging trees on one side and the high beech hedge on its other it was a perfect start to what was to be a rather short but enjoyable walk to as far as we felt like going today. So really, nothing planned, see how it goes. We passed the bottom of the path that we would eventually return on from Stone Arthur, one that is easier to descend from than ascend to and then within a few minutes of leaving the car we arrived at the footbridge over Greenhead Gill, quite a magnificent affair in contrast to the original one that didn’t survive previous floods.

ImageFootbridge over Greenhead Gill

I had a little wander up the gill to suss out any photo opportunities and noted a small but attractive water run coming down from below the Thirlmere Aqueduct but deemed it not usable in this report although a few minutes later and a bit more climbing thought that this next one was.

ImageThirlmere Aqueduct with Stone Arthur on the skyline

Although I don’t like a fellside cloaked with bracken I must admit that under certain circumstances and conditions it can look quite attractive, albeit when it’s dying off and the contrast between living and dying of same is evident in the above photo.

Just a few more metres gained and a look back...

ImageHelm Crag

showed a dull sky but well deserved sunshine over Grasmere, but like the few others that we saw on the start of this walk it was still cool enough to wear our coats for the time being. The climb up was easy enough with just the odd spot where it’s a little steeper and wetter today and we were soon approaching Butter Crag with a little patch of blue now appearing above us.

ImageButter Crag skyline

We were on the zig-zags when we had a more or less uninterrupted view of Grasmere and surrounding fells and mountains with bright patches of sunlight highlighting random parts of the views before us.

ImageA view across Grasmere

ImageOver Grasmere the other way

Onwards we climbed with the path getting ever wetting the higher we got.

ImageWet paths

Great Rigg is peeping over the skyline.

ImageGreat Rigg - Stone Arthur and Greenhead Gill

ImageButter Crag

Soon after this we were at Alcock Tarn, a place that is both popular and a magnet for picnickers and it’s almost impossible to arrive here and find it devoid of other visitors.

ImageAlcock Tarn

Alcock Tarn is a lovely place and I consider it to be one of the best in the LD especially when the flowers are out and floating on the water amongst the green reeds. The reeds seem to be thickening up across the narrow part of the tarn and it’s to be hoped that it isn’t allowed to get too overgrown and we end up with two tarns in future years as it is most beautiful as it is just now.

The sky was opening up by now with ever increasing areas of blue appearing above us although it was still mostly thick cloud over the Central and Southern Fells. As was to be expected there were a few people at the tarn and others either passing by or leaving as we made our way along the path at the south end that makes its way across the top of the built up area that forms the dam that makes Alcock Tarn what it is today. Passing through the wall we now took the easy and well graded path that would take us up to Nab Scar, a path that is a lot easier than grinding ones way up the alternative steep one from Rydal.

A little bit of elevation from the tarn gave us an alternative view of it and the thickening of the reeds are plain to see.

ImageAlcock Tarn

ImageA steady path through the bracken

Soon enough the views were opening up before us and despite the cloud cover the air quality wasn’t too bad at all.

ImageConiston Fells behind Grasmere

A good steady pace soon had us passing below Lord Crag with the summit of Nab Scar in sight.

ImagePassing below Lord Crag

Is this another of A Wainwright’s subjective summits as Lord Crag versus Nab Scar for seniority as there is but a cock stride between them and the obvious winner would be...

ImageLord Crag

with its far more attractive top than this one.

ImageNab Scar

It must get down to the views.

ImageView of some Central Fells

Leaving Nab Scar behind and passing over Lord Crag we made our way towards Heron Pike grabbing a shot of Windermere on the way along.

ImageWindermere from above Lord Crag

ImageFells around Grasmere

Our so far quiet walk was now interrupted by a line of walkers taking advantage of the good weather and holiday period to add the Fairfield Round to their ‘have done’ items in their bucket list of things to do.

ImageHeron Pike - Great Rigg - Fairfield

Arriving at Heron Pike we decided to hunker down by the wall lower down the fellside for a quick break just to keep away from the continuous line of people and also the quite cool wind that was blowing cold and strong just now.

The view up to Fairfield from Heron Pike gives a daunting prospect of the way to the climax of this classic round to the uninitiated with a good and clear view of the east ridge that needs to be walked to complete this walk. Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, etc are all in view from Heron Pike.

ImageFairfield from Heron Pike

A hazy view to the west.

ImageBow Fell and The Crinkles

After we had left Heron Pike and on our way to Great Rigg we had an altogether different view of Heron Pike than the one on the way up to it. At about this point a mid 20 to 30ish year old walker stopped and asked us if there was a top to this walk and being a bit dumbfounded we looked at each other and pointed out Fairfield to him leaving us to wonder just what humanity is coming to when they can’t even recognise the obvious highest point of a walk. Do some people even look at a map when thinking of going out for a walk in the fells, or anywhere else for that matter?

ImageLooking back towards Heron Pike

We now had a good view down to Rydal Beck and into Rydal Head and just below us from this point we could see a teardrop shaped sheepfold, quite an elaborate structure and must have taken quite a while to construct. There are also an abundance of newly – or recently – planted trees on both sides of the beck.

ImageTeardrop shaped sheepfold by Rydal Beck

ImageA look towards Rydal Head

As we neared the climb up to Great Rigg we slowed down to let the crowd get past and on this next image there are at least 20 other walkers either making their way up, resting or looking at the views as we have been doing throughout the walk.

ImageA busy Great Rigg

After giving them time to move on we followed in their wake to make the steady climb to the summit of Great Rigg from where the views are more than magnificent.

ImageEasedale Tarn behind Helm Crag

ImageGreat Rigg to Nab Scar and beyond

ImageFairfield with Dollywagon Pike to the left

ImageFairfield and Hart Crag

ImageHart Crag and Dove Crag

ImageA view south from Great Rigg

Depending on where one stands on this ridge a great number of tarns, meres, and waters can be seen, not only the local waters but also a good stretch of the sea down to the south was also visible.

We deemed it too busy to get ourselves onto Fairfield and as we have been there on many occasions missing it out this time was no great loss so we retraced our steps back to the path junction where we would take a turn to the southwest and head down towards Stone Arthur. Now this is where we met our second trick question of the day when a young woman who was stood at the Y of the path junction asked us which way it was to Ambleside. I must say that at this point of the walk Ambleside and Grasmere are quite plain to see down below on either side of Stone Arthur and as I gave an invisible shake of my head pointed her in the right direction. God bless the MRT for the work that they do and it’s no wonder that call outs are on the increase.

ImageThe path down to Stone Arthur

It’s a good path down to Stone Arthur although today and after the previous nights rain the ground was a tad greasy underfoot but we soon arrived at our last top of the day where we once again gained shelter from the wind and had a break to finish off our leftovers.

ImageSouthwest from Stone Arthur

After leaving the summit the ground was still slippery on the first and steepest part of the path but as it levelled out became easier to handle and we made decent time on the descent. After dropping down south along the quite steep part we turned off to the west at around the 330 metre point to follow an old wall that would accompany us right the way down to Greenhead Gill by the gate leading on to the fells.

ImageThe path follows the old wall for a while

A last photo of Grasmere nestling amongst the trees was just too good to miss.


All walks are too good to miss and this one was no exception, and even though it was a short one there is much to see with far reaching views across the mountain ranges especially to the west and south. The range of fells that we could see stretched from Buttermere’s High Stile range to Pillar, Great Gable, the Scafells, right across the Central and North Western Fells to the ones in the south, quite a remarkable outlook as the individual mountains were lined up in rows one after the other. What is there not to like. In these new days of social distancing and the wearing of masks, quarantine, isolation, and for many the thoughts of shopping and mingling on town and city streets are too much for them and walking the fells where peace and quiet usually reigns gives much needed therapy to jangled thoughts and fears of coming down with this seemingly rogue and so far incurable disease. To alleviate these thoughts from myself just now I and my walking partner will now get home and sink a couple of well earned beers, albeit from the armchair but that makes it no less a pleasure to drink.
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Re: Fairfield? Almost, but not on this walk.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:32 am

Looks a fine day with the clouds clearing nicely, like the shot up the horseshoe with the light and shade on Fairfield et al. This walk, just about step for step, is one I have planned to clear up these fells for round two, think I'll pick a midweek :think:
You're not wrong about some folk on the fells, I've been asked some truly odd questions from time to time :crazy: Yesterday on Wild Boar Fell wasn't a problem however, only saw one other walker and he seemed to know where he was going.
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Re: Fairfield? Almost, but not on this walk.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:59 pm

[quote="johnkaysleftleg"]Looks a fine day with the clouds clearing nicely, like the shot up the horseshoe with the light and shade on Fairfield et al. This walk, just about step for step, is one I have planned to clear up these fells for round two, think I'll pick a midweek :think: [quote]

It was another great day out JK and thanks for your comments once again :D Maybe mid-week will be quieter as things don't seem to have settled down yet in the LD with car parks overflowing but the cooler weather may cool their ardour for the LD's higher fells and encourage them to either stop at home or take to the lower routes :? I'll keep my fingers crossed :lol:
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