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FAIRFIELD

Ambleside & Fairfield
 

There is a marked contrast between the character of the northern and southern flanks of Fairfield. Alfred Wainwright in his influential Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells wrote that "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."
Fairfield has connecting ridges to several other fells and in plan view can be likened to a bow-tie. The top has an east-west axis with ridges running out north and south from each end.
The two southern arms make up the popular walk, the Fairfield horseshoe, which starts in Ambleside and makes a circuit of the valley of Rydale to the south. On the western side, descending from Fairfield are Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar while the eastern ridge bears the tops of Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike and Low Pike.
The north western ridge of Fairfield crosses Deepdale Hause to St Sunday Crag whilst that to the north east is a short rocky spur into Deepdale, dropping over Greenhow End. A fifth line of high ground, less a ridge than a salient in the breast of the fell, runs due west to Seat Sandal across Grisedale Hause.
The northern and eastern faces all loom above the desolate upper Deepdale, which is divided by Greenhow End. This short rocky spur has Hutaple Crag on the west and Scrubby Crag on the east. The corries of Cawk Cove and Link Cove lie on either side, each with a steep headwall formed by the flanks of Fairfield.
Fairfield is most commonly climbed as the high point of the Fairfield horseshoe, a walk which has no agreed direction of travel. Coming from Great Rigg, the long grassy ridge heads directly for the summit, whilst the walker arriving from Hart Crag climbs up from Link Hause with a fine view of Scrubby Crag to the right, before the stony traverse of Fairfield summit.
Perhaps the finest indirect ascent is from Patterdale via Birks and St Sunday Crag, following the fine narrow ridge down to Deepdale Hause before ascending up rough ground to Cofa Pike. This subsidiary top of Fairfield has a fine peaked profile, quite outdoing its parent until the wide tabletop comes into view behind. A further rock tor is surmounted before the summit windbreaks are reached. From St Sunday Crag onwards the northern crags of Fairfied are seen in their full and wild glory.
Fairfield can 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 up worsening scree. Grisedale Hause can also be reached as a ridge walk from Seat Sandal, or by cutting across the outlet of Grisedale Tarn from Dollywaggon Pike and the Helvellyns. In this way Fairfield forms part of the Threlkeld — Kirkstone Walk, which continues over Fairfield summit to Dove Crag and Red Screes.
A more challenging route 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.


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