Classic Fairfield Horseshoe.

Start. Ambleside (Waterhead).

Route. Ambleside - Nook Lane - Nook End Farm - Low Sweden Bridge - Sweden Coppice - Sweden Crag - High Brock Crags - Low Pike - High Pike - Thack Bottom Edge - Dove Crag - Houndshope Cove - Hart Crag - Link Hause - Rydal Head - Fairfield - Great Rigg - Rydal Fell - Heron Pike - Lord Crag - Nab Scar - Rydal Hall - Rydal Park - Ambleside.

Notes. Classic perfectly describes this circuit from Ambleside, high level walking nearly all the way, superb views from well defined ridge lines, a popular extremely rewarding excursion, something to eulogise over for weeks afterwards. From Ambleside it's around 11 miles, half up hill, take a peek at the contours on the map, it looks a real leg burner, but ascend the way I did keeping to the right of the wall, the climbs soon come and go rewarding you with wonderful vistas every single step of the way, the summits being but a bonus. Just one fly in the ointment, the summit of Fairfield is a real stinker in the mist, don't get caught out use your map and compass.

I parked at Waterhead, there's a few free parking spaces on the main road, unfortunately what seemed a good idea at the time meant tired legs and sore feet had to drag my aching body back to the car at the end of the day. Once I'd wandered into Ambleside I let Nook Lane usher me into the hills, Nook End Farm being the last bastion of civilisation, after the farm I ascended into classic Lakeland scenery. On a good track I climbed the hill, after passing through the third wall gap I entered High Sweden Coppice, a green trod emerged from the left, I joined this path which in turn guided me to a dry stone wall, this would be my companion almost to the summit of Fairfield.

Over Sweden Crag and High Brock Crags we ascended, over Low Pike then High Pike before an easy walk over Thack Bottom Edge deposited us on Dove Crag. We rested before traversing the head of Houndshope Cove, we then traversed Hart Crag before crossing Link Hause. My friend the wall had vanished by now, dissolved into a pile of rubble, never fear a cairned path then guided me safely over Rydal Head depositing me on Fairfield's rough stoney plateau.

Adorned with two wind shelters and many cairns I took the opportunity to sit a while, drink in the fabulous vistas before making my descent. With a cairned path to guide me I descended south above Fairfield Brow down to Great Rigg, I continued along the ridge line above Erne Crag and Blind Cove to access Heron Pike, the ridge path then ushered me to Nab Scar and the start of a long winding descent which in turn deposited me at Rydal Hall. I wandered passed the hall before entering Rydal Park, the track through this man made landscape ejected me onto the main road to the north of Ambleside, all that remained, a short walk back to Ambleside followed by a further walk to Waterhead.

view route map.


Let me introduce you to my companion for a sizable chunk of this ascent, he doesn't say much but is a bloody good guide, the view Windermere Lake seen from High Sweden Coppice.

Looking to sylvan Rough Sides with Wansfell Pike dominating the skyline.

Seen from the summit of Low Pike the head of Scandale.

High Pike looking imposing from Low Pike, to the left, top of the bill, Fairfield.

Spectacular views from the traverse of Thack Bottom Edge.

Above Thack Bottom Edge viewing Wansfell Pike and Windermere Lake across the long gentle southern shoulder of Red Screes.

Laying under a dark cloud the Coniston massif, from left to right, dark Coniston Old Man, below the cloud base Wetherlam with Great Carrs to the right.

A slice of the picturesque, the Langdale Pikes with neighboring Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell under a blanket of cloud.

As seen from near the summit of Dove Crag, Froswick and Ill Bell viewed over Little Hart Crag and Middle Dodd.

A wonderful pooling of Lakeland ridges and deep cut valleys, viewed from the summit of Dove Crag.

Capturing the morning sun, the Langdale Pikes with the fearsome face of Pavey Ark clearly visible.

Above Houndshope Cove looking to the brooding mass of Fairfield.

Dove Crag on view from the rocky crown of Hart Crag,

Viewing Helvellyn from above Scrubby Crag on the traverse of Rydal Head.

St Sunday Crag from Fairfield.

From the start of my descent route Coniston Old Man and it's lieutenants, to the left above Great Rigg Coniston Water itself.

Stunning views across South Cumbria, from Windermere Lake with the salt waters of Morecambe Bay melting into the horizon.

Sun light dapples the Grisedale Face of Dollywaggon Pike.

Wonderful vistas from the summit of Great Rigg.

View taken over Greenhead Gill, Grasmere with little Alcock Tarn resting in a grassy hollow high above the valley.

The Coniston massif, seen from the ascent of Heron Pike.

Views across the Vale of Grasmere, in shadow to the right the rocky aerie of Helm Crag backed by Easedale Tarn, Blea Rigg and the Langdale Pikes.

Great Rigg, Fairfield and Hart Crag dominate and close the head of Rydal.

Looking to the Langdale skyline, Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell, far right the unmistakable Langdale Pikes, all on view over Grasmere and Silver How.

From Rydal Park, Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg and mighty Fairfield, don your boots, it's a horseshoe worth walking.

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