Fairfield Horseshoe

Fairfield Horseshoe

Sunday, 29 January 2017
11.25 miles/18.1 km
3,202 ft/976 m ascent
5 hours 43 minutes

… more photos on Flickr

The summit of Fairfield (2,864ft/873m) was white.  The stones covered in white snow .. no shadows.  The sky was white.  The air full of sharp cold hard flakes of white snow.  Completely disorientating – plodding through the brightness following a trail of footprints and the compass needle.

Set off from Ambleside in good weather and walked along the track to Rydal Mount before climbing the steep stepped path up Nab Scar (1,476ft/450m) and disappearing into the mist.

Windy up here!!








The snow was deep enough for spikes as we walked over Heron Pike (2,008ft/612m) and Great Rigg (2,513ft/766m) to the summit of Fairfield.  The walk from there to Hart Crag (2,697ft/822m) and Dove Crag (2,598ft/792m) was in a complete whiteout .. hard to see your feet and with a bitter cold wind.  There is something nice about boots “crumping snow” (John Clare 1827 The Shepherd’s Calendar).

The cloud stayed with us the whole day until the skies cleared as we descended from High Pike (2,152ft/656m) towards Low Pike (1,667ft/508m) (the last hill of the day).

View back towards Red Screes from Low Pike




Friday, 18 April 2014
10.2 miles/16.5km
3260ft/994m ascent
Trail 100 #31 & #32
Wainwright #140

Fairfield (2,864ft/873m) is a very popular mountain. Good Friday is the traditional start of the hiking season. The sun is shining, clear blue skies all day. The popular routes up Fairfield are going to be very, very busy; a steady stream of hikers walking up the well trodden paths from Grasmere, Ambleside and Patterdale. We stopped to take a ‘selfie’ by Goldrill Beck before starting our walk.

Goldrill BeckSetting off in the Sunshine

Our route was from Patterdale up Deepdale, and when that got too crowded (with one other couple), we left the path and headed up the steep rock strewn, grassy slope that winds around Greenhow End.

Greenhow End

We stopped to watch a Peregrine Falcon feeding young on a nest on the crag. And crags are the major feature of this route. Looking up from the valley floor, Hart Crag (2,697ft/822m) and Fairfield look an unpromising route, but once you know, there is a clear route.  There is no path here, but from a distance a grassy strip ascends winding in a mirrored ‘S’ shape around Greenhow End to the top of Fairfield.

I promised to mention drumlins in this post.  Here is a photograph of the field of drumlins lying, where the glacier left them, at top of Deepdale.


Wainwright does not recommend this ascent, but for those with strong legs and a a desire to walk on less trodden paths, this is a superb way up a fantastic mountain.

The StepHigh Street


The views of the central Lake District fells and the Helvellyn ridge are breathtaking.  We ate lunch on the crowded top and then followed the more traditional steep scree covered path down over Cofa Pike (2,700ft/823m) and St Sunday Crag (2,759ft/841m) following the ridge.

HelvellynCofa Pike and St Sunday CragGrisedale TarnDeepdaleCofa PikeFairfield

From there we diverted onto the grassy bank of Birks (2,041ft/622m) and then quickly down to Arnison Crag (1,421ft/433m), which has a great view of Patterdale and Ullswater.

Arnison CragBirks


From the car park in Patterdale (NY396160)

Fairfield Route

Langdale Pikes

Sunday, 23 March 2014
2575ft/785m ascent
Trail 100 #26
Wainwright #126 & #127

A splendid day walking in the Langdales in the sunshine and snow.

From the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel we walked up the steep fellside to Loft Crag (2231ft/680m) and all the time the views open up, first Crinkle Crags (2818ft/859m), then Bowfell (2959ft/902m) and the Coniston group in the distance.

Langdale Pikes - Crinkle Crags 

Looking down the Great Langdale valley towards Lingmoor Fell (1539ft/469m) and Skelwith Bridge.




Loft CragLoft Crag

The first mountain on the route is Loft Crag where the rest of the route can be seen for the first time. The photo shows the rocky summit of Loft Crag with the spectacular crags of Pike of Stickle (2326ft/709m) appearing over the cairn in the background.

Pike of Stickle

This is the Trail 100 hill on this walk and the reason we chose this route. A truely spectaular mountain with a tricky scramble to the top when the rocks are covered with compacted snow.

Pike of Stickle 3Pike of Stickle 2

These two photos show the view of Loft Crag and Harrison Stickle (2415ft/736m); and celebrating reaching the top with the snow filled Harrison Combe behind.

Pike of Stickle - Loft Crag and Harrison Stickle Pike of Stickle 1

Harrison StickleHarrison Stickle

We scrambled down Pike of Stickle and crossed back to Harrison Stickle on the other corner of the Langdale Pikes. This gave us the first view of Stickle Tarn and our planned route down.

The photo also shows a heavy snow flurry which completely hid the summit of Helvellyn (3117ft/950m) but missed us completely.


Pavey ArkPavey Ark
The snow made finding the route from Harrison Stickle to Pavey Ark (2297ft/700m) a challenge. The top of Pavey Ark is not very impressive – it’s much better from Stickle Tarn. We ate lunch sitting on the rocks before setting off over the snow covered rocks and peat towards Thunacar Knott (2372ft/723m).

Thunacar KnottThunacar Knott

The summit of this mountain looks like a lunar landscape – rock strewn and windswept. The view to the West includes Glaramara (2569ft/783m) and Great Gable (2949ft/899m). The photo shows the snow topped Helvellyn ridge and Fairfield (2864ft/873m) to the East.

We followed the well worn path towards High Raise (2500ft/762m) which was covered in deep snow. My leg disappeared through the snow into a peat bog hidden beneath. Thank goodness for gaiters!

Sergeant ManSergeant Man 2

Sergeant Man (2415ft/736m)  is a prominent and easy to identify mountain with a very distinctive shape, and was the last mountain on our walk.

From the top we followed the ridge down towards Blea Rigg (1175ft/541m) before turning South West and descending to Stickle Tarn where the huge cliff of Pavey Ark casts a dark shadow over the lake.


Stickle Tarn

Pavey Ark from Stickle Tarn

Last resting point before descending the steep rocky staircase back to the Dungeon Ghyll and a nice cup of coffee.

Resting at Stickle Tarn 1Resting at Stickle Tarn 2


Starting at the New Dungeon Ghyll car park  (NY296064).

Langdale Pikes Route