The Fairfield Circular.

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

Distance: 17.58km

Ascent: 1091m

Fairfield Horseshoe.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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.

ImageLower slopes of Nab Scar ahead

A few minutes of climbing and a look back gave us a view towards Ambleside and Windermere…

ImageThe views are opening up from the lower slopes of Nab Scar

views that would get increasingly better and more open as height was gained.

ImageWindermere 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.

ImageLow 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.

ImageNab Scar summit

A little higher and Grasmere and surrounding fells came into view, a part of Rydal Water with Loughrigg Fell as its background.


ImageLoughrigg Fell

The paths are good and well graded and we were soon on our way to Lord Crag and Heron Pike…

ImageLord 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.

ImageWindermere and the ridge up so far

Swinging around further to the west we had a good but hazy view of the Coniston Fells.

ImageConiston 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.

ImageHeron 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.

ImageThe 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…

ImageRydal 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.

ImageNorth to Fairfield and Rydal Head

ImageRydal 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.

ImageSouth 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…

ImageGreat 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.

ImageGreat 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…

ImageSeat 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.

ImageEasedale Tarn and surrounding fells from Great Rigg

ImageThe view south from Great Rigg

twenty minutes later we were on the summit of Fairfield…

ImageShelter 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.

ImageCofa 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.

ImageA 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.

ImageScrubby 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…

ImageHart Crag ahead

and a good view along Rydal Beck towards Windermere.

ImageRydal and Windermere from Rydal Head

ImageHart Crag from Rydal Head

ImageLooking back to Scrubby Crag

Hart Crag summit was reached in the rain.

ImageChris at Hart Crag summit

Now for the long haul up to Dove Crag summit.

ImageDove Crag ahead

From this summit we could see the whole length of the west ridge, Coniston Fells and over to High Raise.

ImageSouthwest to the Coniston Fells

We now had the long and easy walk down the east ridge all the way back to Rydal.

ImageThe 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.

ImageLooking to Red Pike and Caudale Moor

There's always better progress made when descending and we were soon arriving at High Pike.

ImageHigh Pike ahead

ImageChris at High Pike

ImageLittle Hart Crag from High Pike

ImageSouth 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.

ImageLow Pike

And all of this from this lowest of the summits of this east ridge.

ImageThe west ridge from Low Pike

ImageLooking back to High Pike from Low Pike

ImageRydal and Ambleside from Low Pike

ImageHarter Fell beyond the Coniston Fells


We made our way along the undulating ridge path and upon reaching High Brock Crags we got this view.

ImageGrasmere 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…

ImageBad 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.

ImageBelow 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…

ImageWalking 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.

Click to mark this as a great report. Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Comments: 2

Blencathra, a short walk via Scales Tarn.

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Blencathra
Hewitts: Blencathra
Date walked: 13/07/2018
Distance: 9.29km
Ascent: 669m
Views: 64

A Teesdale amble to Hardberry Hill and Coldberry Mine.

Attachment(s) Date walked: 06/07/2018
Distance: 11.42km
Ascent: 336m
Views: 48

A military road, Bronze Age cairn and too hot to trot.

Attachment(s) Date walked: 29/06/2018
Distance: 17.48km
Ascent: 658m
Comments: 2
Views: 133

Kinniside Common and another bad leg day for Chris.

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Crag Fell, Grike, Lank Rigg
Date walked: 15/06/2018
Distance: 13.2km
Ascent: 775m
Comments: 6
Views: 222

Wind, rain, sore legs. A very short walk to Sty Head.

Attachment(s) Date walked: 14/06/2018
Distance: 7.24km
Ascent: 486m
Comments: 5
Views: 179

A tidy up from Wasdale.

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Caw Fell, Haycock, Red Pike (Wasdale), Scoat Fell
Hewitts: Haycock, Red Pike (Wasdale), Scoat Fell
Date walked: 13/06/2018
Distance: 18.04km
Ascent: 1154m
Comments: 2
Views: 222

Mopping up around Eskdale.

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Green Crag, Hard Knott, Harter Fell (Southern Fells)
Hewitts: Harter Fell (Southern Fells)
Date walked: 12/06/2018
Distance: 17.33km
Ascent: 1314m
Comments: 2
Views: 213

Two Central Fells and a closed road.

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Armboth Fell, High Tove
Date walked: 22/05/2018
Distance: 15.75km
Ascent: 531m
Comments: 9
Views: 522

Middle Dodd, a starter for seven.

Attachment(s) Wainwrights: Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Hartsop above How, High Hartsop Dodd, Little Hart Crag, Middle Dodd, Red Screes
Hewitts: Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes
Date walked: 19/05/2018
Distance: 18.31km
Ascent: 1299m
Comments: 2
Views: 234


User avatar
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

Filter reports



Trips: 20
Distance: 272.13 km
Ascent: 16240m
Hewitts: 26
Wainwrights 51


Trips: 45
Distance: 615.6 km
Ascent: 30201m
Hewitts: 44
Wainwrights 55


Trips: 70
Distance: 995.41 km
Ascent: 47752m
Hewitts: 85
Wainwrights 78


Trips: 42
Distance: 615.32 km
Ascent: 37093m
Hewitts: 48
Wainwrights 64


Trips: 2
Distance: 30.11 km
Ascent: 1423m
Hewitts: 1
Wainwrights 1


Trips: 3
Distance: 62.1 km
Ascent: 3586m
Hewitts: 8
Wainwrights 13


Trips: 3
Distance: 62.1 km
Ascent: 4892m
Hewitts: 13
Wainwrights 15

Joined: Nov 26, 2014
Last visited: Aug 15, 2018
Total posts: 993 | Search posts