Wainwrights The Final Countdown Part 3

Fairfield Horseshoe is one of the fabled circular routes in the Lake District. Including a detour to Stone Arthur I’m expecting to climb 9 Wainwrights today. Five of those will be new and help reduce my countdown to under 40. My countdown had been slowed by injury and supporting rounds but should increase in pace for the rest of the Summer.

The second Saturday in July is the Durham Miners Gala. I was up early to take the Craghead and South Moor banners into the City for the big day. Despite the road closure not quite working we had another memorable day with Craghead Colliery Band. Twelve hours later I’m back home and making final plans to bag more Wainwrights.

Craghead Colliery Band with Craghead banner in the background at Durham Miners Gala 2023

Getting To The Start

Adrian has chosen the day from several options and is in good spirits. His electric car won’t get us to Ambleside and back without a recharge so I’m driving. We discuss a range of topics including electric cars, the Miners Gala and the uncut Craghead Graveyard on the journey.

We both get calls from our sons. Aiden has locked himself out and needs a key. Adrian’s got one but the three hours it would take to drive back to North Tyneside isn’t an option. Jacob has got a great idea but I can’t grasp what it is so I say we can talk about it later. (I get home to find out I’m apparently in favour of his idea and we are going… I’m not and we’re not!).

Last time we were in the lakes together, around Coniston, the weather was awful and we didn’t complete the intended route. Today looks like it will be different with warm sunshine and fluffy clouds in Ambleside. It could be different on Fairfield but it looks unlikely.

Parking Mayhem

After an age driving around the car park we luckily find a space which is when the fun begins. A concerned looking Adrian comes back to the car. “I’ve paid for 4 hours parking but will I get round it that time? It cost another £1.20 …” My withering look says it all and he writes down the phone number and location from the machine in case an emergency payment is needed.

A quick trip to the toilet is all he needs now but it costs 60p and there is no chance of that happening. More delay, the running poles are leaning on the parking meter and need to be collected. I’m suitably unimpressed but at least it is going to be a fast run.

Adrian in the car park ready for action

Fairfield Horseshoe

With 9 Wainwrights in 11 miles and a relatively small amount of climbing Fairfield Horseshoe is a popular route on a nice day. The most difficult part is finding the way onto the first climb of the day. We turn into what looks like a dead end and get a helpful hint from a passer by. Now we are on our way up a nice runnable incline on a road. Crossing a bridge we start to climb a wide, stony trail. Next stop Low Pike.

Road run with the first half of the Fairfield Horseshoe ahead

Adrian is moving well and using poles for the first time. We pass a few walkers on the way up who are impressed with two old dudes running up the hills. We have a conversation about the poles. I’m happy to explain studies have shown they save about 7% of the energy usually expended and should help. “Only 93% knackered then?” is the reply and I exit the conversation.

Low Pike

I’ve read somewhere the wall is our friend on the first two climbs and I’m delighted when it appears on the right. The ground is grassy and dry in most places. Ideal conditions for our peak bagging. Low Pike has been a decent climb and the views are magic for a height of only 508m. I’m not sure it can get better than this.

Ambleside from Low Pike

High Pike

High Pike from Low Pike

I’m totally wrong, High Pike is 150m higher but it looks twice the height from the top. Adrian’s struggling a bit but is plugging away. We have a nice rest and some lunch on High Pike. Adrian has a gel and I’ve got beef and vegetables (baby food). After a couple of minutes enjoying the panoramic loveliness of the Lake District we start the next climb. Why the 6ft high wall was needed all the way up there was never clear. If anyone knows please comment below.

Low Pike and Ambleside from High Pike

Dove Crag

Adrian on Dove Crag

I was planning to run over the moor to the trig point at Scandale Head but it didn’t seem to get any closer so the idea was abandoned. The terrain became more forgiving and runnable as we approached our next target. Dove Crag isn’t much of a challenge from the direction we took. A set of pointy stones in a flattish terrain less than 100m from the main path. A view from Hart Crag shows the full crag.

Dove Crag on the right taken from Hart Crag

Hart Crag

A nice descent and a short climb later we hit the rocky top of Hart Crag. Last time I was here in October the visibility was down to less than 10m. Fairfield could have been our second navigation dilemma in similar conditions but today we can see for miles in each direction.

Next stop Fairfield from Hart Crag

Reaching The Highest Point On The Fairfield Horseshoe

Adrian on Fairfield the high point of the Fairfield Horseshoe

At 873m Fairfield is our highest peak today. I’ve been up here several times but today is probably the best weather I’ve encountered. Last July it was reduced visibility when I visited with Dawn.

24th July 2022

Adrian likes an explore (or was it a rest?) and has a look at the exit to Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag. He isn’t impressed with the drop or the loose stones and we make our way back to our planned route. I’ve got a detour planned and it’s the right moment to tell Adrian the run just got a mile longer with the addition of Stone Arthur.

High Pike & Low Pike on the left Herron Pike on the right from Fairfield

Great Rigg

Climbing Great Rigg with Fairfield in the background

We have looked at Great Rigg all day from the opposite side of the valley. It has a distinctive path running down the ridge and looks very difficult to get lost. There isn’t much at the top but we can see Herron Pike directly ahead. Adrian has been asking me the time every 5 or 10 minutes since we reached Hart Crag. It has taken 15 minutes to get from Fairfield to Great Rigg and he’s looking worried now. While I run to Stone Arthur and back he’s going to call the automated car park line and pay for more time. We still have 90 minutes which I think is doable but he’s not confident.

Looking towards Herron Pike from Great Rigg

Stone Arthur

Stone Arthur is a slim ridge with seems much longer than it looks on the map. There is a direct path down from Great Rigg but I’m disappointed to see no way back up the fell apart from the way I’ve come. The height difference between Great Rigg and Stone Arthur is over 250 metres but I enjoy the view from the small peak more. Grasmere and Rydal Water look within touching distance below. I meet a walker who has only come out today to climb this top. I’m pleased to have a couple more to go.

Grasmere from Stone Arthur

The climb back up isn’t as bad as I first thought and I’m able to use my mountain craft to contour round to the right after climbing about 100m to get onto the Herron Pike path. After jumping a couple of small streams and appearing in front of a startled walker I’m on a mission to catch Adrian.

Stone Arthur right and Grasmere left from the path between Great Rigg and Herron Pike

Herron Pike

I’ve only been running for a couple of minutes when I see Adrian ahead. He is on his phone and looking stressed. It must be Sandra with bad news? I’m totally wrong the parking phone line wouldn’t work on Great Rigg as there wasn’t a strong enough signal. Now there is a signal but the automated system doesn’t understand what he’s typing. I’m bored pretty quickly and we run along to Herron Pike where the performance starts again with a better connection. I try some arty shots of the lake below using the poles while waiting for the car park king.

Pole picture on Herron Pike

There are only so many photos you can take and by now I’m sure he must have run past. Its been around 20 minutes since he was on the phone. I can’t see him anywhere, he must have gone. I set off down the hill towards our last peak Nab Scar which is the lowest of the day.

Without the poles view from Herron Pike

Nab Scar

I’m loving the grassy run downhill and overtaking some walkers for the 4th time. My map falls out of my pocket and lands at the feet of a Primary School kid I’ve seen several times. Quickly stored away again I glance around and can see Adrian descending behind me.

Herron Pike from the path to Nab Scar Adrian was on the top part before the hummock

I have a little walk and wait for him to catch up. He still looks stressed but doesn’t mention the car parking. We jog towards our last top.
Nab Scar centre left and Ambleside with Rydal Water right and Windermere left

A quick look down to Nab Scar gives us an idea of the view from the edge. Two lakes and Ambleside below. The path starts to wind around the hillside but is still easy running and not near the edge. Adrian poses for a few photos with Windermere and Ambleside in the background and we head down off the fells.

Adrian on Nab Scar

Back To The Car Park

It is still a long way back to the car in Ambleside. We jog down a long winding path made into steps by different shaped stones and pass a few walkers on the way. Once at the bottom near Rydal Hall I check out the alternatives. Adrian’s choice is between a grass and trail public right of way or the road. Disappointingly he immediately chooses road and we set off along the A591. After half a mile I’m getting dizzy crossing the road every two minutes as the stretches of footpath only last a few hundred metres before a dead end and reappearing on the opposite side of the road.

Roadrunner, roadrunner

I get back to the car a couple of minutes before Adrian and I’ve changed t-shirt and had a drink by the time he turns up. He asks if there was a parking fine ticket on the car which in a roundabout way is the first time he’s mentioned not buying a ticket remotely. There was no fine on the car but I hurry him on to get changed and we head home asap.

Thanks For The Offer

I’ve got some apples and grapes Adrian has crisps and chocolate. We agree to do a swap and I get a bag of crisps which increases my salt intake. Adrian offers me some chocolate but I notice it has gone all droopy totally melted in the sun. When we stop at the garage in Kirby Stephen he buys more crisps, chocolate and fantastic tasting cold blackcurrant juice. We are both happy as we head home, what could be better after a day in the mountains?

The bar of melted chocolate

Summary

New Wainwrights bagged High Pike (Scandale), Heron Pike (Rydal), Low Pike, Stone Arthur, Nab Scar

Wainwrights left 39

Northern Fells

Great Sca Fell, Brae Fell, Meal Fell, Great Cockup, Longlands Fell, Binsey

North Western Fells

Castle Crag

Southern Fells

Lingmell, Swirl How, Allen Crags, Great Carrs, Grey Friar, Wetherlam, Slight Side, Cold Pike, Harter Fell (Eskdale), Seathwaite Fell, Hard Knot, Green Crag, Lingmoor Fell, Black Fell, Holme Fell

Western Fells

Starling Dodd, Great Bourne

Central Fells

Pavey Ark, Loft Crag, Tarn Crag (Easedale), Blea Rigg, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, Silver How, Loughrigg Fell

Eastern Fells

Completed

Far Eastern Fells

Stony Cove Pike, Gray Crag, Hartstop Dodd, Sallows, Baystones, Sour Howes, Troutbeck Tongue

Companions: Adrian

Run on Strava

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