Wainwrights: Dove Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, Heron Pike, High Pike (Eastern Fells), Low Pike, Nab Scar
Hewitts: Dove Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Hart Crag
Date walked: 17/07/2018
Time taken: 5.36 hours
Chris elected to do the Fairfield Round today and with 8 Wainwright's, 5 Hewitt's, and 9 Birkett's it was a good enough incentive for him to drive over from Middlesboro for an early start from my house to get to Rydal at the earliest possible time. Earlier on in the year E was on a course at Rydal Hall with me along just for a few days doss and a few short walks as the weather was atrocious when I sussed out that the Hall allows parking in their grounds for a fee of £5 for the day with £2 back if using their tea shop. On the drive up the lane to the Halls entrance gate I noticed that most of the once available parking space was no longer as cones marked off most of the length of the lane with just a couple or three spaces just before the church being used for free parking. The consequences of this of course is that the early bird catches the worm so to speak, and so it was on this occasion as we drew onto the lane around 9am to find all places taken so it was convenient to know that we could park in the grounds of Rydal Hall where the car would no doubt be safer anyway and it was right at the start and end of our walk.
Chris and his faithful friend had breakfast whilst booting up on this cloudy though warm day, clouds that would dominate the day with just a short spell of sunshine and an even shorter shower of rain during the afternoon all accompanied by a cool breeze. We were soon away leaving the car park to turn right up the metalled lane that soon turned to concrete before getting our boots on to a stony track at Hart Head Farm and then within minutes was then using a pitched stone path as we started the climb up to Nab Scar.
Lower slopes of Nab Scar ahead
A few minutes of climbing and a look back gave us a view towards Ambleside and Windermere…
The views are opening up from the lower slopes of Nab Scar
views that would get increasingly better and more open as height was gained.
Windermere and Rydal Water
Looking over to the east we could see that the east ridge of the round was under cloud at its highest points of Hart Crag and Dove Crag and we could only hope that by the time that we arrived there the cloud would have cleared.
Low Pike - High Pike - Dove Crag
Climbing steadily we were soon closing in on our first summit, that of Nab Scar, a summit that consists of grass covered rocky outcrops and spurs, a trend that would continue on all the other summits that we would stand on today.
Nab Scar summit
A little higher and Grasmere and surrounding fells came into view, a part of Rydal Water with Loughrigg Fell as its background.
The paths are good and well graded and we were soon on our way to Lord Crag and Heron Pike…
Lord Crag and Heron Pike
and from just below Heron Pike the views to the southwest afforded us a good view of Windermere and Coniston Water just peeping out from behind Black Fell and Holme Fell.
Windermere and the ridge up so far
Swinging around further to the west we had a good but hazy view of the Coniston Fells.
Coniston Fells in the distance
We soon arrived at the summit of Heron Pike with the sparse grass and thin soil scarcely covering the rock underneath it and from where we had a really good view of what was to come on this west ridge and also the whole of the descent along the east ridge.
Heron Pike summit
So far and despite the thick cloud cover it had been warm work climbing but as we stopped to have a look around we could feel the makings of a cool breeze starting up and we decided to take a break in the shelter of the wall on Rydal Fell that we could see along with Great Rigg as we continued on.
The way ahead to Rydal Fell and Great Rigg
We made short work of the walk to Rydal Fell its craggy summit at 621 metres only classed as a Birkett…
Rydal Fell's craggy summit
and from where Great Rigg looked far away and enormous with a climb to match its size as its eastern slopes fall into the valley of Rydal Beck and follows round to the north as it makes its way to Fairfield and Rydal Head and with the help of the steep crags at the head of Deepdale form the narrow ridge between Fairfield, Scrubby Crag and then on to Hart Crag.
North to Fairfield and Rydal Head
On looking back south it makes one realise just how big Rydal Fell is as the long slope is looked at as from the other side the view is broken up by the undulating ground.
South to Rydal Fell
There's nothing to do really only to keep walking and climbing the steady slopes enjoying the views and with not many people about on this route it's a fairly quiet walk so far with only one hand holding couple, two chaps that shared the view with us on Rydal Fell and a lone male walker although before too long it was to change as we joined the hoards that were occupying Fairfield summit. Soon enough we were on the slopes of Great Rigg…
Great Rigg summit
from where we soon found the summit cairn lying alongside the path and Chris's insistence of summit posing with his trusty four legged friend, Sonny.
Great Rigg summit
We now had a drop of around 50 metres and a final climb of around 450 metres to the summit of Fairfield and from Great Rigg looks like a daunting proposition but in reality once on the slopes is not too bad at all. We had a decent view of Seat Sandal and the Helvellyn Range over to the west/northwest and just a tiny glimpse of Grisedale Tarn peeping out at Hause Gap/Grisedale Hause…
Seat Sandal and the Helvellyn Range
whilst a good view of Easedale Tarn, surrounding fells, the Langdales, Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell to name a few spoilt only by the low cloud and haze was to be seen.
Easedale Tarn and surrounding fells from Great Rigg
The view south from Great Rigg
twenty minutes later we were on the summit of Fairfield…
Shelter on Fairfield summit
that is so big and flat that the only way to enjoy the multiple views is to walk around in all directions and trying to avoid tripping on any of the thousands of rocks and stones that litter this summit.
Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag towering over Deepdale
We stopped for a bite to eat and top up the bodily fluids and once sat down in the shelter of a short wall we began to feel the real coldness of the now strong breeze. There are now a lot more people about with some still arriving from off Cofa Pike and most of the sheltered places were occupied with others milling around on the plain like summit.
We made a move with a hint of rain in the air and Chris now in full winter gear with me to follow not too far behind him. Better putting on over trousers in the shelter of the wall before the weather breaks rather than struggle in the wind when the rain has started falling.
A final look across Fairfield summit
We were now to walk along the narrow strip of ground that separates Deepdale from the vast comb of Rydal Head and valley beyond that carries Rydal Beck down to the River Rothay. This path will take us over Scrubby Crag and onto Hart Crag before we reach Dove Crag and the more or less continuous downward slopes of the east ridge of the Horseshoe.
Scrubby Crag and Hart Crag as we leave Fairfield
The path down Scrubby Crag is a bit rough with care having to be taken especially as it was now raining and the ground had got a bit greasy but we were soon on the way to Hart Crag…
Hart Crag ahead
and a good view along Rydal Beck towards Windermere.
Rydal and Windermere from Rydal Head
Hart Crag from Rydal Head
Looking back to Scrubby Crag
Hart Crag summit was reached in the rain.
Chris at Hart Crag summit
Now for the long haul up to Dove Crag summit.
Dove Crag ahead
From this summit we could see the whole length of the west ridge, Coniston Fells and over to High Raise.
Southwest to the Coniston Fells
We now had the long and easy walk down the east ridge all the way back to Rydal.
The long easy walk down the east ridge
The view to the east gave us the Hartsop fells, Kentmere Pikes, Grey Crag and right the way over to High Street and its adjoining fells.
Looking to Red Pike and Caudale Moor
There's always better progress made when descending and we were soon arriving at High Pike.
High Pike ahead
Chris at High Pike
Little Hart Crag from High Pike
South ridge and Low Pike from High Pike
We had been following the wall with it on our right but crossed over to the opposite side via a gate stile in the wall just below High Pike summit as we were in two minds whether to walk all the way down to Low Sweden Bridge or cut the corner and drop off the fellside at Low Pike and cross Rydal Beck at Buckstones Jump Waterfall, we decided to continue on to LSB and as the rain had now stopped we were going to cast off our waterproofs at Low Pike and take a short break for sustenance.
And all of this from this lowest of the summits of this east ridge.
The west ridge from Low Pike
Looking back to High Pike from Low Pike
Rydal and Ambleside from Low Pike
Harter Fell beyond the Coniston Fells
We made our way along the undulating ridge path and upon reaching High Brock Crags we got this view.
Grasmere and some western fells from High Brock Crags
Not long after leaving this crag we arrived at Sweden Crag with its 'bad step', a fairly smooth section of vertical rock about 3 metres in height that has a way down it by using the rocky 'steps' to the left…
Bad step full frontal
but as it was too high for Sonny to negotiate we went around to the left along an easier path where the second obstacle can be found, but this is but an easy scramble and is easily got down.
Below the bad step on Sweden Crag
Well from this point it was nearly all over with just a walk along a green lane and a rough track down past High Sweden Coppice to Low Sweden Coppice and then on to Low Sweden Bridge from where we picked up the well made track through the grounds of Rydal Park…
Walking through the grounds of Rydal Park
that saw us quickly arrive back at Rydal Hall where we gave the Tea Shop and £2 credit a miss as we had a different kind of brew on our minds.
This walk is one that I have done many times in all weathers and have enjoyed every trip onto these fells no matter what has been thrown at me. This has been Chris's first time around and despite having a bit of foot ache in the later stages has enjoyed it immensely despite the cold wind and the short period of rain. Okay, it was cloudy for most of the day but apart from the haze the clouds didn't cover too much up and with not seeing many people as we walked the ridges I could only assume that the crowds we saw on Fairfield arrived and left by either the Grisedale or Hartsop routes. A great walk at any time of year with views all round to die for but just at this moment we were intent on getting into some friendly bar where we could relax and savour what we had just done.
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Date walked: 19/05/2018
- Location: Near Appleby - Cumbria
- Activity: Walker
- Mountain: Blencathra
- Gear: Map, compass, waterproofs
- Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35
- Ideal day out: A good mixed walk with scrambling leading to a good ridge walk.
- Munros: 11
- Wainwrights: 214
- Hewitts: 181
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- Trips: 20
- Distance: 272.13 km
- Ascent: 16240m
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- Trips: 45
- Distance: 615.6 km
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- Distance: 995.41 km
- Ascent: 47752m
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- Distance: 615.32 km
- Ascent: 37093m
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- Distance: 62.1 km
- Ascent: 3586m
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- Ascent: 4892m
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- Joined: Nov 26, 2014
- Last visited: Aug 15, 2018
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