Fairfield first timer

Saturday morning and I was on the train to Windermere. The plan: to spend 24 hours (or so) in Lakeland and camp up high.

I’d no idea where to go. It would be busy, but if I could avoid the nine to five of most hill-going folk, I might experience some solitude even on a busy weekend.

So, location… I’m not consumed by bagging peaks, but scanning my eyes over the map, I realized there was an obvious objective. Despite spending many days in the Ambleside area, I’d never climbed Fairfield.

Come to think of it, I’ve never climbed Great Gable, either, but will be rectifying that one later in the year.

Fairfield it was to be, then, via a horseshoe and a wild camp.

Ambleside was hot, sticky and packed with folk… just as you’d expect. I ambled, wasting time waiting for the temperature to drop.

I grew impatient, though, and headed off to the slopes of Low Pike. Amazingly, they were deserted. Perhaps the heat was too oppressive?

I was in no rush so could climb slowly, stopping frequently to take in views and mark off familiar summits to the east.

I entertained myself further clambering over the numerous rocky outcrops of High Pike and was greeted with a refreshing breeze the further I climbed… a sign of what was to come perhaps.

It was only on the approach to Dove Crag that I met my first walkers of the day, all going down. I crossed Hart Crag and my objective came into view.

Pressing on, I scouted Rydal Head for possible camping spots. It was early but the broad grassy tops provided plenty of options, even if water was sparse.

I made a note of a few areas and carried onward to Fairfield’s similarly flat top, if a little more boulder strewn. Unseen crags to the north give the hill a more sinister edge, although everything felt rather sedate on this approach.

The weather then bit back.

A strengthening wind was accompanied by rain, and lots of it. I had to get down. But the only obvious option was Grizedale Tarn where many surely would be spending the night.

Negotiating a perilous path off Fairfield, I dropped down to Grizedale Hause and, peering through cloud, spotted four tents along the tarn’s shores. I found a perch on the lakeside and made a brew.

The heavens opened in earnest again and forced my hand. I would try to find a secluded, sheltered spot in this natural bowl, out of site and out of the wind.

I located a rough, but flat, plateau on the eastern slopes. Small streams bubbled and gurgled around me but their waters were hard to reach.

Despite the proximity of others, I was out of the line of sight. The changeable weather brought a brief interlude of sunshine and I took photos and dried out my kit on a steaming rock.

Indeed, such was the power of the sun, I stripped to my boxers to dry them too!

Later, the rain and wind returned but I was snug in the bag. Heavy showers and wind persisted through the night and I awoke early to more rain and thick cloud.

Eight Herdwick’s sat in a circle around the tent and blankly watched me brew up and break fast.

I got moving quickly. The rain stopped again and I took the opportunity to finish drying my clothes while wearing them. To regain the horseshoe route, I climbed Fairfield again, this time via Deepdale Hause and Cofa Pike… a far more pleasant ascent.

It was early, and I had the hills to myself.

Great Rigg was remained cloudy, but the views opened up as I reached Rydal Fell and met my first walkers of the day just after Heron Pike.

Rydal Water looked stunning from the vantage of Nab Scar, now under blue sky, and I made my way back to Ambleside via the Rydal Hall path.


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