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The Fairfield Horseshoe from Ambleside

Lake District Walk

Nat Park - Lake District - Lake District Eastern Fells

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

County/Area - Cumbria

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 11.0 miles / 17.9 km    Ascent - 3400 feet / 1030 metres

Time - 8 hours 50 minutes    Grade - mod/hard

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - The Fairfield Horseshoe
Click image to visit gallery of 3 images.

The Fairfield horseshoe is a popular Lake District walk starting and finishing in Ambleside (Grid ref. NY 375045). A shorter version is detailed in walk 1170. 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 taking the main path to Heron Pike.

From this last major 'top' of the route continue south to Nab Scar from where there is a steep descent into Rydal. Keep to the north side of Rydal Hall and follow the drive through pleasant parkland to meet the main road just outside Ambleside. Turn left along the main road and you will be back at the start.

Other walks nearby

Walk 2026 Loughrigg from Pelter Bridge near Rydaleasy/mod4.0 miles
Walk 3034 Red Screes & Other Fells from Amblesidemod/hard10.0 miles
Walk 3697 Loughrigg Fell from Skelwith Bridgeeasy/mod4.5 miles
Walk 1823 Fairfield Horseshoe & Loughrigg from High Close mod/hard14.0 miles
Walk 1472 Alcock Tarn & Rydal Watereasy/mod7.0 miles
Walk 1565 Rydal Water & Grasmere circulareasy/mod6.0 miles
Walk 1682 Rydal Water & Grasmere easy/mod5.5 miles
Walk 2715 Skelwith Bridge & Loughriggeasy/mod5.5 miles
Walk 1684 Lingmoor Fell & Langdale easy/mod7.0 miles
Walk 1141 Elterwater circulareasy/mod4.0 miles

Recommended Books & eBooks

The Cumbria Way

The Cumbria WayA guidebook to the 73 mile Cumbria Way, an easy long-distance walk though the heart of the Lake District National Park, from Ulverston in the south to Carlisle in the north, with good transport links to either end. The route is largely low-level but this guide offers alternative mountain days to climb some of the famous fells en route.
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Outdoor Adventures with Children - Lake District

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