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The Fairfield Horseshoe

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The Fairfield Horseshoe
Author: Colpeakbagger, Published: 04 Nov 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Cumbria, The Eastern Fells
Walk Type: Mountains
The Fairfield Horseshoe
Length: 11 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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The Fairfield Horseshoe is quite rightly an absolute Lakeland Classic. It's long, it's high, it's 8 seperate Wainwright Fells all in one walk and it even goes through the grounds of William Wordsworth's house - it doesn't get any more Lake District than this. Nowhere on the walk is navigation a problem (so long as it's not foggy) and chances are that you will be constantly bumping into other walkers - as I said, this is a classic, however, it's not easy and a full day's walk. There is also a bit of a climb down at one section just after Low Pike that you need to be aware of.

The start of this walk is in Ambleside. I normally try and point you in the direction of free parking but in this case I have never found any. I'm afraid it's a case of biting the bullet and paying for a day's parking in one of the car parks, I would suggest the one that's just behind the National Trust Bridge House.

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Walk Sections

Start to Nab Scar
Start to Nab Scar

Start point: 54.4338 lat, -2.9642 long
End point: 54.4564 lat, -2.9956 long

Set off from Ambleside following the main road that heads towards Grasmere (A591) and just after crossing the Scandale Beck bridge you will spot a low grey gate house on the south bound side of the road. Go through the gate here and follow the driveway that winds up through the farmland. This path eventually comes out at Rydal Mount, Wordsworth's former home. Walk past the house and there is a signposted path on the right to Nab Scar. The route now goes steeply uphill, zigzagging up the side of the hill. This is the steepest part of the walk and you are getting it out of the way first. The views down on to Rydal Water and back to Windermere make up for the hard work though and soon you are on top of Nab Scar, the first summit of the day.

Nab Scar to Fairfield
Nab Scar to Fairfield

Start point: 54.4564 lat, -2.9956 long
End point: 54.4961 lat, -2.9918 long

The worst of the climbing is now out of the way, although that's not to say that the rest is flat. From the top of Nab Scar the remainder of the walk is visible to you all the way up the ridge to Fairfield and then down the other side of the valley and back to Ambleside. Follow the very obvious path up and over the double top of Heron Pike and then down and up again to High Rigg before the final climb to the summit of Fairfield.

Fairfield to Low Pike
Fairfield to Low Pike

Start point: 54.4961 lat, -2.9918 long
End point: 54.4612 lat, -2.9678 long

Most of the walk has been grassy but the top of Fairfield is a rocky moonscape with incredible views down on to St Sunday Crag, Ullswater and over to Helvellyn and Striding Edge. This is the furthest point of the route and now you are heading back down the other side of the valley. Walking around the head of Rydale you drop down to Link Cove before climbing up to the top of Hart Crag. It is here you will meet a feature that will become a companion for the next few miles - an incredibly well built dry stone wall that follows the ridge line over Dove Crag, High Pike and Low Pike. Keep the wall to your right and you won't go wrong.

Low Pike to Finish
Low Pike to Finish

Start point: 54.4612 lat, -2.9678 long
End point: 54.4331 lat, -2.9633 long

After leaving Low Pike you cross two dry stone walls. Beyond the second one you come to the tricky bit of the walk, a rock step that requires you to do a bit of scrambling. It's not too difficult but care should be taken (alternatively head west and work out your own diversion to avoid the step).
Keep following the wall and cross another 4 walls through a variety of gates and gaps until you head left and go over Low Sweden Bridge. Follow the lane you find on the other side and this takes you all the way back to Ambleside.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author Colpeakbagger and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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