Last week I was walking in the Lake District with three of my friends and we did the classic Fairfield Horseshoe. Eight peaks and eleven miles, a challenging walk. Half way round and I was shattered. The previous evening I had been looking at Wainwright’s Book One, The Eastern Fells. I read my notes in the margin, the first time that I did this walk was April 1988. No wonder it seemed harder.
Starting from Ambleside we decided to do the walk in the anticlockwise direction making Low Pike,1657 ft our first objective. As we approached a gate leading to the open fell we noticed some sheep lying in the shade. Unusually they did not move even though we were quite close. They knew that ‘in the shade’ was the best place to be. It was going to be a very hot day.
In his book, Wainwright writes about the ‘rock step’ on the approach to Low Pike, but there was no need for concern. The main path skirts round it to the right. We kept pausing, not just to catch our breath but to take in the view looking back over Windermere.
We now followed the wall to High Pike, 2155 ft. A steady 2/3 of a mile with 600 ft of ascent.
As we gained height the views opened up.
Our next objective was Dove Crag, 2603ft. An easy walk on grass. 470 ft of ascent with a slight depression half way along.
A good place to stop for lunch.
The next peak, Hart Crag, 2698 ft was just 3/4 of a mile and then we headed up towards Fairfield.
The summit of Fairfield, 2863 ft is very flat and can be confusing in mist. But there were no problems today, conditions were perfect. We could walk along the north east edge and enjoy the view looking down on Cofa Pike and across to St Sunday Crag.
We rested for a short time at the summit but no sooner had we sat down than we were surrounded by flies. Most seemed interested in my piece of cake. I’m sure I ate one.
We now headed south along the ridge towards Great Rigg, 2513 ft. It was downhill nearly all the way.
We continued on past Heron Pike, 2003 ft, to reach Nab Scar our last peak of the day at 1450 ft. There was a good view looking down on Rydal Water.
The descent from Nab Scar was very steep and rocky. You had to really watch where you placed your feet, especially with tired legs.
Once down it was an easy stroll through Rydal Park and along the road back to our car.
Eight Wainwrights, 11 miles and 4370 feet of ascent. It had taken us just over seven hours. No wonder I felt shattered.
On the way back we called in at the Eagle and Child in Staveley. It is wonderful how a pint of Hawkeshead bitter can restore your spirits.