Lake District Walks
Date: 23rd September 2006
Distance: 12 miles
Ascent: 3880 feet
Time: 6 hours 50 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY377038
A fantastic day out walking the Fairfield Horseshoe, one of the finest ridge walks in the Lake District.
Route Summary: Anbleside - Low Sweden Bridge - Low Pike - High Pike - High Bakestones - Dove Crag - Hart Crag - Fairfield - High Rigg - Heron Pike - Nab Scar - Rydal Hall - Rydal Park - Ambleside.
1. Low Pike and High Pike
2. On the ridge above Scandale
3. High Pike from Low Pike
4. The top of High Pike looking towards Red Screes
5. High Pike and Scandale
6. Lisa on High Bakestones above Scandale
8. Lisa on the summit of Dove Crag
9. Hart Crag and Fairfield from Dove Crag
10. Lisa on Hart Crag
11. Fairfield from Hart Crag
12. Heron Pike
13. On the summit of Fairfield
14. St Sunday Crag and Cofa Pike
15. Lisa and the Helvellyn range
16. Looking back at Fairfield from High Rigg
17. Heron Pike from High Rigg
18. High Rigg, Fairfield and Hart Crag from Heron Pike North Top
19. Heron Pike North Top
20. Rydal Water from Nab Scar
Walk Detail: It was an overcast morning and the fog was very thick in places on the drive out to Ambleside though I was confident it would clear as forecast. My only worry was that we would get up to the higher fells, where navigation can be awkward in mist, before it did so.
The climb up to Low Pike was fairly steady and was enlivened by a bit of scrambling and sight of the local foxhounds being taken out for their exercises. Low Pike itself was a small rocky outcrop on the ridge which made a pleasant place to stop for a bite. Fortunately it was at this point that the clearer weather began to blow over and I must have taken about a dozen pictures of High Pike with various types of lighting.
The walk up to High Pike was steep in places with the highlight being the view of Scandale and Little Hart Crag standing proud at the valley head. High Pike itself, despite its appearance from below, is really just the abrupt end of the ridge from Dove Crag. Still it is a good top to aim for from below and there was a nice little outcrop with the summit cairn and another good view of Scandale.
The gradients mellowed much more on the nice path following the wall up to Dove Crag. We didn’t make a direct climb to the top, as we were tempted astray by the impressive cairn on High Bakestones. It was definitely a worthwhile detour and once again we enjoyed views of Scandale and also of the Far Eastern Fells.
To get some views into Dovedale we avoided the direct path to the summit which was quite disappointingly broad for a fell which looked so impressive from Hartsop Dodd. We ate our main lunch a bit further north east from the cairn enjoying the light changing over Hart Crag and Fairfield ahead.
The climb up Hart Crag was really the last steep climb of the day, mainly over a tumble of rocks. From Hart Crag there were some great views down to Patterdale and the Far Eastern Fells. On Fairfield we skirted around the eastern face to catch a glimpse of the more dramatic side of the fell before making our way up to the summit with its profusion of cairns.
I’m fairly sure we took our pictures next to the highest one which was formed into a windshelter. We had another sit down, this time just above the path leading to Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag, and soaked up the views of the Helvellyn range with Dollywaggon Pike to the fore.
The walk onwards to Great Rigg was fairly easy with Seat Sandal and a brief glimpse of Grisedale Tarn among the most noticeable objects on view. Great Rigg was reached fairly swiftly but by this time Lisa’s knee was starting to hurt a bit so with a fair way still to go we didn’t linger but pressed on.
After passing over the insignificant top of Rydal Fell with a tiny attractive tarn we moved on to what the Nuttall’s call Heron Pike North Top. This is an unfortunate name and it would have perhaps been better to class this higher top as Rydal Fell. Set slightly out of kilter of the main ridge it gave good views of Heron Pike proper and the route we’d just walked.
Both Heron Pike North Top and Heron Pike were nice tops but with Lisa’s knee getting worse we didn’t stop, except for photos until we reached Nab Scar, the final top of the day. Although it is not really a top in itself it was still memorable for its dramatic view down to Rydal Water. The descent from here was steep but thankfully the reconstructed path was easy to walk on and though we had to go slowly for Lisa it was a nice descent in the golden early evening sunshine.
The walk from Rydal was along a nice path past Rydal Hall and at times gave us a good view back to the ridge we’d just walked. This was a walk that definitely lived up to its promise - a fantastic day out in the hills.