logo Walking Britain

Lake District Walk
A shortened version of the Fairfield Horseshoe

Nat Park - Lake District - Lake District Eastern Fells

Wainwrights - Dove Crag, Fairfield, Great Rigg, Hart Crag, High Pike, Low Pike

County/Area - Cumbria

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 9.5 miles / 15.4 km    Ascent - 3410 feet / 1033 metres

Time - 8 hours 10 minutes    Grade - mod/hard

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Explorer OL5Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL5Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Explorer OL7Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL7Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 90Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 90Digital Map1:50kBUY

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - A shortened version of the Fairfield Horseshoe
Click image to visit gallery of 6 images.

This Lake District circular walk is a variation on the popular Fairfield horseshoe (See walk 1002), which traditionally starts and ends in Ambleside. By using the bus service between Grasmere and Ambleside, the walk can be shortened with the attractive descent from Stone Arthur adding an interesting finale. It is suggested you park in Grasmere and take the bus to Ambleside as this means you are not under pressure at the end of the day to catch the bus - the Tourist Information Centre in Grasmere was particularly helpful in providing schedules.

From the centre of Ambleside take the Kirkstone Road for a short way turning down the first lane on the left. This leads to Low Sweden Bridge from where the views of the Fells begin to improve. The onward path to Low Pike is well-trodden and you soon find yourself alongside the ridge wall. This leads onwards over high Pike and onto Dove Crag. As you climb, the views on both sides are excellent and improve with each step.

Although you are now in the high fells, progress is easy. Although you are climbing most of the time there is nothing too strenuous and you feel as though you are covering a lot of ground. By the time you reach Dove Crag, you have earned a rest, and this is an excellent place to see the majority of the Fairfield horseshoe. Suitably refreshed head on to Hart Crag where the view north opens out with St Sunday Crag dominating the view. The ascent is nearly over and after dropping off the northern side of Hart Crag to Link Hause a steep rocky upward pull brings you onto Fairfield.

As the name suggests, this mountain is a grassy plateau. However on its north eastern flanks there are some superb crags and rather than follow the main path it is better to keep to your right following the narrow trod which skirts around the top of the cliffs. Besides an excellent view into Deepdale, you are able to appreciate the full extent of Fairfield's rocky aspect. Suitably impressed, you should arrive at the summit cairn from where the far ranging views are excellent. However because of the domed nature of the plateau it is better to explore a little with a short walk north to inspect Cofa Pike and Grisedale Hause particularly rewarding.

Having reached the highest point of the walk it is downhill almost all the way back to Grasmere. In poor visibility do be careful to take the correct path off Fairfield as it can be a confusing place in low cloud. Keeping on the main path to Great Rigg you will find it easy to keep a good pace with an excellent Lakeland panorama ahead. Reaching the cairn on Great Rigg descend but fork right off the main Heron Pike path along the subsidiary ridge leading to Stone Arthur.

Not nearly as busy as the main path, you descend gently to the rocky outcrop named Stone Arthur. The views to Grasmere and Easedale are particularly good and after a little scrambling the path descends more abruptly before levelling off again. The route is waymarked and soon you reach the main road (grid ref. 339083). From here it is short walk into the centre of Grasmere where there are ample opportunities for refreshment.


Other walks nearby

Walk 1002 The Fairfield Horseshoe from Amblesidemod/hard11.0 miles
Walk 1023 Wansfell Pike & Wansfell from Amblesideeasy/mod7.5 miles
Walk 3519 High Sweden Bridge from Amblesideeasy/mod3.0 miles
Walk 3075 Ambleside and Rydal circular easy/mod6.5 miles
Walk 3423 Dove Crag & Red Screes - Scandale Horseshoemod/hard9.5 miles

Recommended Books & eBooks

Walking the Lake District Fells - Langdale

Walking the Lake District Fells - LangdalePart of the Walking the Lake District Fells series, this guidebook covers a wide range of routes to 25 Lakeland summits that can be climbed from the Great Langdale valley, Ambleside and Grasmere, with highlights including Scafell Pike, Bowfell, the Langdale Pikes and Helm Crag (the Lion and the Lamb). Includes suggestions for longer ridge routes.
More information

Great Mountain Days in the Lake District

Great Mountain Days in the Lake DistrictAn inspirational guidebook to 50 challenging walks on the high fells of the Lake District. The graded circular routes, between 4 and 14 miles in length, cover classic Lakeland summits like Fairfield, Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Blencathra, to the lesser-known High Spy, King's How and Brund Fell.
More information

The End to End Trail

The End to End Trail
More information

Further Information

Walk Location Map

Walk location map

Lake District Walking

The Lake District National Park is seen by many as one of the scenic gems of the British Isles. The natural beauty has attracted many artists and writers through the centuries and today the same scenery provides the perfect backdrop to a wide variety of walks. The National Park is located wholly within Cumbria with Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick the main tourist towns. For many this is the finest area in England for walking with a wide variety of scenery. Even on the busiest weekends it is possible to get away from the crowds by carefully selecting one of the less-visited fells. More Information

Walk grading - Learn how each walk is assessed and select a walk to suit your ability and experience by going to Walk Grading Details.

Accommodation Nearby

Lattendales Guest House
Ambleside
0.1 miles / 0.1 km away
Parkhouse Guesthouse
Ambleside
0.1 miles / 0.1 km away
Riverside B&B
Ambleside
0.3 miles / 0.5 km away
Riverside Lodge
Ambleside
0.4 miles / 0.7 km away
* Featured Supplier
Rothay Manor Hotel & Restaurant
Ambleside
0.4 miles / 0.7 km away

Self Catering & Cottage Holidays - Properties throughout the UK & Europe

Follow Walking Britain for the latest news. Facebook Twitter

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.