Thursday, 17 January 2013

Fairfield Horseshoe in the Lake District, Cumbria

One thing both Tim and I wanted to do was get some walking in. Given the options up north we were spoilt for choice and decided on the Lake District. Given how unpredictable the weather had been we figured we'd just drive up and see what it was like when we arrived.

An early start driving through the mist saw us arrive in the Lake District around 9am, although we could have been anywhere to be honest, we couldn't see anything. Even driving alongside Lake Windermere on the way up to Ambleside the lake was completely hidden from view.

We found our hostel pretty easily and dumped our stuff before asking the guy in reception how the weather was and what he figured was a decent walk for the day. I had an old book with walking trails but asking a local which was the best route in the area seemed the best option. Given it had been so damp he suggested we didn't attempt Scafell, but the Fairfield Horseshoe which was much closer anyway.

Apparently the weather had been similar the previous day and was expected to be sunny once you rose above the mist line. Yesterday this had been around Low Sweden Bridge along the track, so we were hoping for the same today.

Walking north through the town centre of Ambleside, we saw a few other hikers but it looked like it would be a quiet day out in the hills. Heading up to Nook End Farm there was no one else on the path and it looked like we were to have millionaires' hiking for a while, with no one else in sight.

Little bridge house in Ambleside

More misty than it looks here

Possibly Low Sweden Bridge area

Still in the mist

As we moved up the path, the mist started to lift so we assumed we were around the Low Sweden Bridge area and we were pretty sure that by the time we'd risen above the mist we had reached High Brock Crags. Even though we had a map we weren't overly sure but some of the places we were sure of: Low Pike at 508m and High Pike at 656m. The former where we figured we were making good time and the latter where we realised we weren't after taking a power nap in the, what had now become, glorious sunshine. Not often you get rosy red cheeks in January because of the sun.

Carrying on we wound our way round to Dove Crag at 792m and only now were we reaching halfway as we got to the middle of the horseshoe. We had great views looking down into the valley watching the Rydal Beck fall away out of sight into the mist, and waterfalls which we could hear in the distance.

Following the ridge round we passed Great Rigg at 766m and then Heron Pike at 512m so we knew we were slowly but surely descending. At this stage the mist started to come in with a vengeance and it seemed to take forever before we reached the Lord Crag and Nab Scar area, from where it was basically straight down the slopes via winding paths and steep steps, leading back into the thick mist and down into the tiny village of Rydal. From here it was just a short one mile walk back into Ambleside where we rewarded ourselves with a well earned pint after our 11 mile walk.

Ah, sunshine

Slowly coming above the list line

Right by the pot of gold

Heading up towards Low Pike

Moving on up to High Pike

Still a long way to go

High Pike

Approaching Dove Crag, looking down into the valley

Walking along Heron Pike on the return side of the horseshoe

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