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Best Walks - The Fairfield Horseshoe - Extended
Introduction to the Walk
The Fairfield Horseshoe is a very well-known circular classic in the Lake District. This route is a slight extension of that popular horseshoe, ideal for those who enjoy the classic route but want to try something a bit more demanding. Starting and ending in Rydal, this route takes in 5 summits, including Fairfield (873m), before heading out to Patterdale, and finishing by using the Scandale Pass. A route of great mountain and lowland variety.
There is parking at Rydal Hall, and along the roadside by Rydal Hall. However, it does get busy here so do make sure you arrive early.
Start your day by the church at Rydal (near Ambleside), and begin by heading up hill on the road. Don’t be tempted to take the early turning off to the left (sign posted to Grasmere) instead keep heading up the road just slightly further. You will soon see another footpath to the left, take this one and begin to head steeply uphill.
Follow this footpath as it ascends first to Heron Pike (612m), you will now be on your first ridge and the path can easily be followed over the second summit of Rydal Fell (615m). From Rydal Fell, keep along the ridge path to summit number 3 Great Rigg (766m) and then onto Fairfield itself.
Once on the top of Fairfield you will continue along the classic horseshoe path by going over to Hart Crag (822m). Make sure you are careful with your navigation at this point, Fairfield is very often in the cloud. It is easy to go wrong here and descend down the wrong ridge in poor visibility. So do make sure that you take a bearing to double check you are heading the correct way, if you are heading north or west turn around and go back to the summit to try again!
Once you successfully reach Hart Crag (822m), your final summit, you now need to deviate off the horseshoe and instead head down the “Hartsop above How” path. Once again, when you are on Hart Crag make sure you take a bearing in poor visibility to be sure you start heading down the correct ridge, you should be heading in a North Easterly direction. Continue along this ridge all the way down to Bridgend in Patterdale.
Once at the road, turn right and follow the footpath next to the road for a short distance, approximately 1K. You will now reach a carpark which has a good footpath leading out to the South, follow this footpath past Brother Water and to a farm.
Once at the farm, ignore the large path on the left (this just goes to the campsite and the road), instead keep following the main path slightly further until you see a small footpath on the left going through a field (signposted Scandale Pass), this is the footpath you now need to follow. The path can be unclear at times, do your best to follow it through the field. Make sure you do not cross the river, if you find you have followed it to the river by accident, back track just past the wall and ascend up the field, following the wall), to a small gate on your left that will put you back onto the correct path.
Keep on this sometimes unclear path, with the river on your left, as it contours around High Hartsop Dodd. Once you have contoured around you will begin to ascend yourself, still following closely to the river, to the top of Scandale Pass. Once at the top of the pass, continue to follow the path as it descends down Scandale Beck, which you will then cross using a bridge. Ascend up the path and this will put you back on to the very last part of The Fairfield Horseshoe.
Continue to follow the large, wide, good path down towards Ambleside until it crosses through a wall, at this point you no longer want to follow this path. Instead you will spot another large path that is through a farmer’s gate (it does not join on to the path you are currently on). Go through the farmer’s gate and on to the new path, following it as it heads downhill. Once at the bottom of the hill it will join one last good, wide track. You need to turn right here and follow this track all the way back to Rydal Hall.
Map of the Route
Walking can be a dangerous activity, all information provided here has been done so free of charge and we can take no responsibility for the accuracy of that information. Please make sure you do all your own research and understand how to equip yourself and know how to use a map and compass before undertaking any walk.
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