Seat Sandal and Fairfield from Grasmere.

Start. Grasmere.

Route. Grasmere - Mill Bridge - Little Tongue - Seat Sandal - Grisedale Hause - Fairfield - Great Rigg - Rydal Fell - Heron Pike - Butter Crag - Alcock Tarn - Greenhead Gill - Grasmere.

Notes. This is a circuit taking in a number of Lakeland favourites, Fairfield and Great Rigg and Heron Pike, that wonderful ridge running south from the former. Clearly seen from Grasmere, the much neglected not so often visited Seat Sandal, it's grassy slopes rising to the east of Dunmail Raise. A brute of a hill aloof from all around, views from the summit are spectacular, you'll have plenty of time to sit and soak them in while recovering from the ascent, you're really only girding your loins, preparing for the assault on Fairfield. Another leg burner of a climb, well worth the effort, the stoney summit gifts the lucky walker with fabulous vistas. The rest is easy, enjoy it, you've earned it.

After parking in a large lay-by just north of the Swan Hotel I wandered north along the main road, after passing the Traveller's Rest I reached Mill Bridge and the start of a stoney bridleway, a finger-post promised this was the route to Patterdale. The stoney track guided me to a path junction, I turned left ignoring the foot-bridge and path rising to Hause Gap, my choice ushered me into a vast grassy comb, shepherded me along the ridge of Little Tongue to access a green trod running above the intake wall. This narrow path guided me initially south to access a green way ascending the south ridge, I turned up hill, looking to my feet, not the climb ahead, slowly plodding on I eventually crested the summit feeling uncharacteristically fresh after a leg burning climb like that. I refused to rest, with a dry stone wall for company I descend to Hause Gap.

Fairfield beckoned, the path I was about to climb was steep, loose and wound it's way up the west ridge, I sat above Grisedale Tarn, mused over my chosen ascent route before slowly, deliberately attacking the hill. The climb went on a while but wasn't too bad, once on the summit I sat amongst the many cairns and wind shelters brewed tea and just soaked up the views, it was silent, eerie just me and the mountain wind. An eternity passed before I made a move. The ridge line guided me south, above Calf Cove to reach Great Rigg, above Stone Cove and Blind Cove before the short pull to the summit of Heron Pike, I then turned my back on the ridge line, I descended west over pathless ground towards Butter Crag before accessing little Alcock Tarn. I sat by this lovely tarn nestled in a grassy hollow above Grasmere, drank more tea and let my mind drift back to my first ever excursion into the hills, for me this was the place it all started many moons ago. Deliberations over I descended a good path to the north, this trod plunged into the boulder strewn stream bed of Greenhead Gill, a good path lead along the edge of the beck terminating at the intake wall, here a fell gate allowed access to a tarmac lane, I continued descending tarmac under foot back to my starting point.

view route map.


Seat Sandal seen from the A591 south of the Traveller's Rest.

On the lower slopes of Seat Sandal, views into Greenburn.

Ahead is Great Tongue with Seat Sandal to the left and Fairfield the right.

Ascending Seat Sandal's south ridge with a hazy but stunning view over the Vale of Grasmere.

A wonderful pooling of Lakeland ridges terminating at the Crinkle Crags on the far horizon.

Rising above Dunmail Raise, Steel Fell.

Climbing the final few feet looking across the slopes of Stone Arthur to little Alcock Tarn.

Not on the bill today, St Sunday Crag, with Fairfield to the right, most definitely on the bill.

The formidable slopes of Dollywaggon Pike rise from the shore of Grisedale Tarn.

Seen over Hause Gap my route up Fairfield.

In action on Fairfield's steep slopes looking back to Seat Sandal.

The formidable rock architecture of the Helvellyn massif, Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and finally Helvellyn and the Striding Edge approach.

Seen from Fairfield's stoney summit plateau, St Sunday Crag.

From the desolate summit of Fairfield views across Rydal Head to Hart Crag and Dove Crag, grey across the horizon from left to right, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick the little pointy one, Ill Bell the higher pointy one and the almost flat top of Yoke.

Picking my way across a field of stone looking to the Coniston massif.

From an unnamed tarn above Erne Crag views to Fairfield, the steep slopes of Rydal Head and Hart Crag.

Taking in the views from near the summit of Heron Pike, the head of Rydal in all it's glory.

Evaporating into the Lakeland mist, Windermere Lake.

Alcock Tarn above Grasmere with the Coniston fells and Crinkle Crags dominating the skyline.

From the pathless descent to Alcock Tarn views to a wonderful stage set of Lakeland lesser heights, forget about High Raise and Ullscarf across the horizon, look to Blea Crag to the left, Calf Crag above Helm Crag and Steel Fell to the right across Greenburn.

Nestled in a grassy hollow above Grasmere Alcock Tarn.

Great Rigg rising above Greenhead Gill.

The boulder strewn beck bottom of Greenhead Gill.

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