A Fairfield Horseshoe

For the second day of our Grasmere get-away we opted for a Fairfield Horseshoe. Fairfield throws off ridges in several directions, so there are several viable horseshoe walks which include Fairfield as their highest summit. One of those walks is particularly well-known and popular and is often called The Fairfield Horseshoe: since it follows the ridges which enclose Rydal Beck perhaps it should be the Rydal Horseshoe. Anyway, we walked a different horseshoe – not the regular one.

All of this contrasts quite markedly with the hills of the day before, where broad shoulders, knuckled with tors and knolls are more the order of the day. Although the long ridge down to Helm Crag – seen showing-off in the sunshine on the right below – is a notable exception.

The hills of yesterday

The snowy bulk behind and left of Helm Crag is High Raise. The half-shadowed bowl below and to the left of that contains Easedale Tarn. Move down and left again and you will see a second huge scooped corrie – the bottom of this is Blindtarn Moss, which we descended through in the gathering dark the day before. There is no tarn there as far as I can tell – but there is enough water to form one.


These great views of Grasmere and the hills beyond were occasioned by a steep ascent which eventually led us on to the gentler ridge of Stone Arthur, a Birkett, despite not really being a summit.

Seat Sandal from Stone Arthur 

I’m not sure that November and I will ever truly see eye-to-eye, but even with lots of dark, mean and moody clouds scudding overhead, the low-angled winter light was once again fantastic.


Somehow, inexplicably, the day before I had contrived to quite frequently find myself at the front of our group, or at least not at the back; but on the Sunday normal service resumed and I regained my rightful spot – somewhere off the back. In these circumstances I find a camera often provides a welcome excuse for a breather whilst the waiting whippets up ahead are no doubt grumbling into their buffs about the wind-chill factor.

Seat Sandal, Dollywagon Pike, shoulder of Fairfield 

At least from Stone Arthur the ascent was steady onto..

Heading towards Great Rigg 

..the main ridge…

Looking south - Rydal Fell and Heron Pike 

At Great Rigg….

Great Rigg 

Seat Sandal 

Seat Sandal from Great Rigg.

On the ridge 

And from Great Rigg the ascent along the motorway of the The Fairfield Horseshoe was also pleasantly steady; all the way to Fairfield itself….


We didn’t linger, since it was once again bitterly cold, but headed down…

Starting to descend 

…in the direction of Seat Sandal and Grisedale Tarn:

Seat Sandal and Grizedale Tarn 

A last hurrah over Seat Sandal………

On Seat Sandal, St. Sunday Crag and Fairfield behind. 

And then a steady plod down the long shoulder back to the Inn and our cars.

Putting the world to rights on the long ridge down

Another fabulous day to round-off a first-rate weekend. You can put my name down for next year now.

Andy’s account of the day, including useful stuff like maps, distances and amounts of ascent and also entertaining stuff like a musical slideshow, can be found here (sooner or later).

A Fairfield Horseshoe

8 thoughts on “A Fairfield Horseshoe

  1. Alright, alright, I’m working on it! Another superb day to round off a superb weekend. Luck with the weather held. I think I can probably find a gap in my busy schedule for next year

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      No pressure! I’ve just written this one as a reward to myself for wading through another Parent’s Evening (as a teacher not a parent). Not sure how wise that was since I’m not entirely awake.
      Just done some counting and discovered that Seat Sandal was my 99th Wainwright since I started the blog. Now I think I should try to squeeze in another (perhaps with 8 other Birketts to take that tally to 200) before the end of the year. Too little time and too many things to do….

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          Mostly I wave my hands around in a supplicating fashion and smile winsomely. Sometimes I throw in a few numbers: “97%, level 7 sub-stratum B” to make the whole thing sound scientific.

  2. Yes, it’s that Parents’ Evening time of year isn’t it…..
    Looked a grand walk though. Was it icy on the top or slushy? Certainly looked chilly and moody anyway. Quite like moody clouds myself, especially at night when they’re racing across the sky, just allowing a bright moon to peep through every now and then.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Oh yes – another one next week. What joy!
      There was only a thin covering of snow and that at the very highest part of the walk – no evidence of ice.
      Broken cloud is great, either with sunlight or moonlight breaking through.

  3. Looks like you had a clearer day than I did a couple of months ago! November isn’t always all that bad. A justifiably classic route thoughj, I found myself thinking, “WHy haven’t I done this before!”

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