Fairfield over Nab Scar and Heron Pike.

Start. The Church of St Mary, Rydal.

Route. Rydal - Nab Scar - Lord Crag - Heron Pike - Great Rigg - Fairfield - Great Rigg - Stone Arthur - Grasmere - Penny Rock Wood - Rydal Water - Steps End Wood - Rydal.

Notes. Fairfield usually the apex of the strenuous Fairfield Horseshoe walk, while the approach traverses spectacular ridges it's stoney plateau has few features, a couple of wind shelters, a few cairns, but you've put the effort in to get up there so take a wander around, that's when it comes into it's own. Staggering views over plunging cliffs, desolate valleys such as Deepdale to the east visited by few, picturesque Grisedale with it's tarn and spectacular waterfalls, Rydal dark and foreboding stretching to the south. Rising to the north Helvellyn with it's razor sharp edges, to the west the Coniston Fells and Scafell massif with Bow Fell at the head of Great Langdale, the unmistakable tower of Great Gable dominate the horizon. To the south Windermere Lake, Coniston Water and a litany of lower summits roll down to the sands of Morecambe Bay and southwest to the Irish Sea coast, on the southern horizon Ingleborough my destination tomorrow, that is if I don't twist an ankle wandering around this stoney plateau.

I'm on half a horseshoe today, the western half, ascending Nab Scar, Heron Pike and Great Rigg with it's once proud cairn known as Great Rigg Man. My descent was made over Stone Arthur plunging down to Grasmere for a well earned wander back along the valley floor. I left the car at The Church of St Mary, my ascent started immediately, passing Rydal Mount before reaching a finger-post at the end of the concrete track. On a well used path I ascended Nab Scar, before crossing the summit of Heron Pike, over Blind Cove and Stone Cove to start the ascent of Great Rigg. After a short descent it was an easy pull to the summit of Fairfield, I practiced what I preached, had a wander around before making my descent. Re-tracing my steps back to Great Rigg from where a good path descends over Stone Arthur, washed out by winter storms the final three hundred feet of this path was a real ankle breaker, I emerged on the A591 unscathed, just.

My left ankle had taken a real pounding on the latter part of the descent, I opted for just over a mile of road walking, I could always jump on the bus back to Rydal if the pain persisted, as it happened the scenery along this stretch of tarmac is so exquisite the pain was quickly forgotten. I soon stepped into Penny Rock Wood, where I accessed the banks of the River Rothay for the final few miles. I wound my way along delightful riverside paths, through airy woodland, along the shore of Rydal Water before entering Steps End Wood, all that remained a short walk through the woods, a crossing of the river once more at a delightful foot-bridge, oh! and a visit to the Badger Bar before walking round the corner to the waiting car.

view route map.


Early morning over the Rothay Valley.

The warm glow of a spring sunrise over Red Screes.

As night turns to day, high on Nab Scar looking to Wansfell Pike above Ambleside.

Still to capture the morning light, Rydal Water backed by Loughrigg Fell, with Windermere Lake stretching to the south.

Golden light on Loughrigg Fell.

Heading up Heron Pike, pausing to enjoy the stunning view back over Nab Scar.

Appearing out of the morning haze Coniston Water over Loughrigg and Black Fells.

The summit Heron Pike supported by my first view of Fairfield.

Taking a breather, soaking up the views to the south, the now obvious Windermere Lake with Wansfell Pike rising to the left.

An unnamed tarn on the coll between Heron Pike and Great Rigg brings this picture to life, Dove Crag with the long ridge leading to High Pike.

The lit ridges of the western arm of the Fairfield Horseshoe, seen from the ascent of Great Rigg.

From Great Rigg Man views to Fairfield.

A stage set of Lakeland mountains, straight ahead the bulk of Helvellyn with Striding Edge clearly visible, a tad closer the Grisedale face of Dollywaggon Pike, to the left Seat Sandal with the shadowed slopes of Fairfield to the right, look a little closer you can just make out little Grisedale Tarn.

Near the summit of Fairfield looking to the Coniston massif.

How's that for a ridge walk, I've just crossed the lot, Nab Scar, Heron Pike and Great Rigg.

From the eastern edge of Fairfield's extensive summit plateau, St Sunday Crag rises between Grisedale and Deepdale.

The ridges and corrie's of the Helvellyn massif, to the right little Cofa Pike with views down Grisedale.

Seen beyond Fairfield's stoney summit plateau, Helvellyn.

The summit Stone Arthur, looking to the Langdale skyline, Pike of Blisco and the Crinkle Crags, to the far left Wetherlam and the Coniston massif.

Viewing the rocky summit of Helm Crag backed by the High Raise.

At the moment I'm descending on a good path, it's about to get considerably worse, here we have a view over Forest Side taking in Grasmere village backed by Silver How and Huntingstile, with the Coniston Fells on the far horizon.

Stone Arthur rising above Grasmere village.

I told you this was a picturesque stretch of road walking, Silver How seen twice.

Helm Crag seen over Grasmere.

Rydal Water and Nab Scar, it seems an awful long time since I graced it's summit.

Seen over the rippled surface of Rydal Water, Silver How.

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