~The Fairfield Horseshoe~
28th December 2009
I wanted to do at least one high level Lakeland walk during the Christmas Break. I would wear crampons for the first time and I did not want to deal with scrambles or steep crags. I wanted to be sure of road conditions and find a good place to park and I was looking for a walk that would occupy all the daylight hours. I needed fine weather and on the above date, Northern England sat in a col between weather systems. The Fairfield Horseshoe fitted the bill and whilst it is true that I am no stranger to Fairfield summit, it is at least 30 years since I've done the "Horseshoe" and on that occasion, it was an anti-clockwise route from Ambleside....
The Summit of Fairfield, looking towards Helvellyn
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk
Early Morning over Ambleside and Windermere
I left the car parked at Rydal Mount and was walking by 8am. Crampons were very useful in the early sections as the snow was compacted, later the challenge was walking through deep snow.
Heron Pike with Windermere and Coniston Lakes in the distance
Heron Pike and a lively snowscape
Fellwalker, Paul Wild on Heron Pike
Paul and I left Rydal Mount at about the same time. I'd never met Paul before, but it soon became clear that our objectives, not just for today, were quite similar. We walked together to the summit of Fairfield.
Erne Crag, Great Rigg & Fairfield; Hart Crag and Dove Crag
Sometimes I see things on these fells just as A.Wainwright saw them. See Heron Pike 3.
Me on the Summit of Fairfield
Paul took this photo. We sat in this summit shelter! for a few minutes but as soon as the gloves were off, cold set in. Quick snack and then Paul went off to taste the delights of Stone Arthur, while I headed for Hart Crag. The snow was uncomfortably deep, I kept my crampons on until hitting uncovered rocks on the Dove Crag ascent. Then I took them off, replacing them for the final descent later on.
Hart Crag and Winter Walkers
Everyone was using the wall to avoid the deep snow. I followed and fell off three times. With snow at least 3ft deep on each side, it seemed logicl to stay on the wall. When ascending walkers came the other way, it was awkward, to say the least.
The Route to Low Pike
When I reached Low Pike, I had attained 100 fell tops in 2009. Many, of course, were reached via ridge routes, but I enjoyed 24 separate Lake District walks and many others in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire (1) and North Wales (1).
High Sweden Bridge
Light was fading and the budgeted time was far exceeded, but it was a very enjoyable and challenging walk in fantastic winter conditions.
Walkers: Just Me
Time taken: 8hr 30 minutes over a distance of approx. 12 miles
Route: Rydal Mount, Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike, Low Pike, High Sweden Bridge, Ambleside, main road back to Rydal Mount.
Weather and conditions: no wind, clear skies, rather cold.
Greetings Count: Medium: accompanied by Paul (above) for the ascent and from the summit of Fairfield onwards, there was a good number of folk about.
Richard's Refreshment Review: Coffee and cake in Esquires, Ambleside. I quite like the place, good service, plenty of seating, reasonable prices (I suppose). Dirty boots and rucksacs welcome.
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2009 ©