The Fairfield Horseshoe Circular Walk

Ambleside 15 Jun, 2014


Frequently referred to as a "classic" Lake District walk this is a serious mountain challenge accessible from the bustling town of Ambleside. Personally I prefer to follow the route in a clockwise direction. This takes you through Rydal Hall where it's possible to buy some energy boosting cakes from the cafe there.

Once you're through Rydal Hall it's time to start the fairly relenlentless ascent to the summit, this takes you over Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg and onto the summit of Fairfield. The fantastic views keep the spirits perked up even when it sometimes feels the summit isn't getting any closer.

Navigation is fairly straightforward with well trodden paths. The plateau at the top of Fairfield is very flat with few features to navigate by, in poor visibility it can be easy to get lost and overshoot the turn east towards Hart Crag. It's not unheard of for unwary walks to overshoot and find themselves in Patterdale! Be careful here and take time to find the right path.

The walk across across to Hart Crag is mainly over stoney ground where the path can be indistinct in places. From Hart Crag the ground becomes rocky with a mixture of large and small boulders to cross, these aren't much more than stepping stones and shouldn't pose any problems if you've got this far. They can be slippy in the wet so take your time.

Once over the rocks the path soon meets a stone wall which is followed most of the way back taking you over High Pike and Low Pike. Ultimately you arrive back at High Sweden bridge, if the weather's favourable this is a nice place to perch on a rock, give your feet a rest, have a brew and watch the water shoot down Scandale Beck. After recuperating it's a relatively short walk back to Ambleside and a pint or two...

When you arrive back in Ambleside there are plenty of great pubs and places to eat so I think it's always worth trying to stay the night to relax and enjoy yourself.

The best place to park is Rydal Road car park - this is a large long stay car park which is well positioned to start the walk. It can get very busy so I recommend that you get there early to get a space.

Height Information

There's no particularly exposed areas. The paths are generally wide and let you avoid walking too close to the edges if you're not keen on heights.


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Key Facts

Start Walk
1063 meters
5 hours 57 minutes
Pram Friendly

Area Maps

The Fairfield Horseshoe Map

The Fairfield Horseshoe Height