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Fairfield Horseshoe, The Lakes - October 2009

10.5 mile walk with 3,150 feet of ascent taking 6.5 hours

The Fairfield Horseshoe is one of The Lake's classic high level routes and is within easy access of Central Ambleside. The start of the walk is similar to Red Screes, heading out of Ambleside on North Road and Kirkstone Road, towards Sweden Bridge. Crossing Sweden Bridge the trail starts up the ridge line, and there are two options (a) to follow the wall and do some scrambling up the crags higher up or (b) to turn to the right and go around the crags. Along the crest of the ridge runs a dry stone wall which goes right up to the peak, and this is described by the guidebook as being one of the most impressive dry stone walls in the Lakes. The path continues just below High Pike, Dove Crag and Hart Crag before reaching Fairfield itself, at 873 m (2,863 feet). The views are spectacular, and the small bothy makes a comfortable place to have lunch. But there is a cold wind blowing across the top of Fairfield which discourages you from staying there too long. The route down unfolds before your eyes as a beautiful ridge with small peaks....... the first being Greatrigg Man and the second being Heron Pike. The ridge is generally flat and undulating and makes for pleasant walking, but at the end a great deal of height has to be lost to get down to Rydal and the path is steep, twisting and stony. The trail passes through Rydal Hall grounds ....... a path which is virtually level but which seems to go on and on....... until it eventually leaves the park on to the main road. From here it is a reasonably short walk back in to Ambleside.

High Sweden Bridge

To the right in the valley is the drovers path which we came down from Red Screes

Part of the impressive dry wall

Looking back over Ambleside and Lake Windermere

The path gooes to the right of the crags thus avoiding a scramble

The impressive dry wall

Rydal Water

Lake Windermere

Rounded hills approaching Dove Crag

View of the ridge on the way down

Lunch at the top of Fairfield


View along the ridge on the way down

View along the ridge on the way down

Looking back up the ridge to Fairfield

Towards the end of the ridge, with Ambleside and Lake Windermere in the distance