Great Rigg, Fairfield and Hart Crag
Situated in the Eastern Fells of the English Lake District at 2864 feet/873m (NY358117) Fairfield is one of Lakeland’s more popular hills.
The legendary writer and walker Alfred Wainwright described Fairfield in his Pictorial Guide to the Eastern Fells as:
“…a grand mountain with grand satellites in support. From the south it appears as a great horseshoe of grassy slopes below a consistently high skyline...but lacking those dramatic qualities that appeal most to the lover of hills. But on the north side the Fairfield range is magnificent: here are dark precipices, long fans of scree,...desolate combes and deep valleys…full of interest and well worthy of exploration”.
To this extent there is a marked contrast between the character of the northern and southern flanks of Fairfield. The summit itself is a rocky plateau with stone shelters and numerous cairns. The absence of distinguishing features makes it in the mist or snow very confusing to navigate with the abundance of cairns being more of a hindrance than a help, especially over the tops of the buttresses over the north faces, where they lead to a sudden way off! In mist note that none of the usual descent routes descend over steep ground and that a cairn does not necessarily indicate a path. (A Wainwright).
View to St Sunday Crag and Cofa Pike from Fairfield View to Great Rigg and Heron Pike from Hart Crag
The most popular route for both hill walkers and fell runners alike is from the southern aspect and the Fairfield Horseshoe which form the ridge lines around Rydal Beck. The route (done in either direction) usually starts in Ambleside or Rydal and ascends Nab Scar, Heron Pike and Great Rigg to the summit of Fairfield and then descends Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike and Low Pike to High Sweden Bridge and from there down to Ambleside. (see map link)
The most interesting route and a fine mountaineering route is from the North starting at Patterdale via St Sunday Crag especially if it is linked as part of the Patterdale Round and scramble on Pinnacle Ridge. (See Patterdale Round Route)
Fairfield can be also be climbed via Grisedale Hause, either up Tongue Gill from Grasmere from Dunmail Raise or from Patterdale. The path up from the Hause is a rough zigzag of scree. Grisedale Hause can also be reached as a ridge walk from Seat Sandal, or by cutting across the outlet of Grisedale Tarn.
A more challenging route from Patterdale climbs out of Deepdale, veering into the lower part of Link Cove before surmounting Greenhow End and The Step. Deepdale Hause can also be gained from this side, but climbs direct out of Link Cove or Cowk Cove are not practicable for walkers.
Rainbow over St Sunday Crag from Hart Crag on the Fairfield Horseshoe
For Fairfield Horseshoe the starting point is the town of Ambleside where there is ample parking or the the neighbouring village of Rydal where there is limited parking. If the approach is from the north then there is limited parking in Patterdale at the hotel or in Glenridding.
There are numerous campsites in the area (see link below) as well as ample B&B and Hotel accomodation in Ambleside and Glenridding.
No red tape
Maps and Guide Books
A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Book 1 The Eastern Fells. A Wainwright.