Hikes to Fairfield’s rounded summit take you to the central hub of the high fells to the south of the Helvellyn range. In keeping with the character of the rest of the Eastern Fells, Fairfield is characterised by gradually sweeping, grassy ridges to the south and west, and dramatic walls of crag where magnificent buttresses are riven by deep gullies to the east.
Due to this, walking routes to Fairfield have something of a Jekyll and Hyde nature. Despite the drama and atmosphere awaiting discovery at the head of Deepdale in the east, the fell is most commonly ascended from the south, as the high point of the beloved Fairfield Horseshoe.
The Fairfield Horseshoe is one of the classic high mountain routes in Lakeland. Its mixture of accessibility from popular Ambleside, stunning panoramas, gradual gradients, low technical difficulty and length make it a perfect challenge for budding hillwalkers. Taking in no less than eight Wainwrights, it’s both family friendly and an adventurous, committing and strenuous expedition. Ambleside is the obvious base.
However, if you like your mountains wild and rough around the edges, you won’t go far wrong by delving into the jaws of Deepdale and discovering adventure amongst Fairfield’s north and east facing crags. Patterdale is the base for routes from this side, all of which are long outings, whether heading into Deepdale or the equally rugged Grisedale.
Once you reach the summit, the peaks of the south and western Lake District are liberally draped across the horizon: an awe-inspiring panorama. Closer by, your eye will trace the bulk of St Sunday Crag to the southern tip of beautiful Ullswater. To the north are the superb eastern arms of the Helvellyn range, reaching away from the main ridge system.
In full winter conditions, Fairfield is probably best left to those with crampons and ice axes, though if there’s just a mere dusting of snow, gradual routes from the south will reward your adventurous spirit. Be mindful of daylight hours, as most approaches to Fairfield are lengthy.
Centrepiece of its namesake horseshoe, Fairfield is rarely a walker’s sole goal. Instead it is renowned as the highest point of the much-frequented Fairfield Horseshoe, a looped ridge walk bagging several summits. Starting at either Ambleside or Rydal, the easy, airy hiking over grassy slopes makes this an ideal beginner’s ridge walk.
December 13, 2019
One of the top launch points for the Lakeland and very easy to reach from very different points, e.g. Ambleside, Patterdale, Bidgend. In good weather, the view extends far beyond the Lakeland to the sea in the west, in the east to the Yorkshire Dales and further south to the Pennines.
August 10, 2018
A great ridge walk from Ambleside. Great views over Helvellyn, St Sunday Crag and many others. On a good day you can see almost all the Lakeland fells and many of the lakes as well as Morecambe Bay.
November 25, 2020
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