Fairfield

Fairfield from Ambleside tends to be my stock Sunday walk, as with my current reliance on public transport Ambleside is about the only place I can get to at a reasonable time on a Sunday (if you class 7am as reasonable that is).

That said, I’ve not done it that often. Mountain memories inevitably get tied to the conditions you experience them in, and Fairfield has for me nearly always been done in thick cloud and almost zero visibility.

The summit was no different today, but most of the rest of the walk was under clear blue skies and sunshine which would have been quite warm if not for the strong winds.

Towards High Pike from Nab Scar

Towards High Pike from Nab Scar

I’d not realised how dark the mornings were getting and was pleasantly surprised to already be on the ascent as first light hit. With the extra bit of warmth the distant views were hazy, but foregrounds were lit up with some nice sunlight.

I was  a little bit surprised to see a couple of other photographers around this morning, it’s rare I bump into anyone else. Though given the jeans and trainers combo I think this is about as high as they were heading. Whilst politely keeping out of shot I grabbed a token Herdwick snap :)

Herdwick sheep and cloudy Fairfield summit in the background

Herdwick sheep and cloudy Fairfield summit in the background

Despite the stiff breeze which would increase to a rather bracing strong wind by the summit, Rydal Water looked relatively calm nestled in the valley below.

View over Rydal towards Wetherlam

View over Rydal towards Wetherlam

Portrait view over Rydal towards Wetherlam

Portrait view over Rydal towards Wetherlam

Most of the Fairfield Horseshoe can be seen from Ambleside, but once you begin the ascent the view towards the final summit is blocked off until you reach the top of Heron Pike. It’s a bit of a slog, hence the number of photos.

Wetherlam from below Lord Crag

Wetherlam from below Lord Crag

Towards Wetherlam from Lord Crag

Towards Wetherlam from Lord Crag

I was passed at this point by a couple of elderly ladies being dragged along at a healthy pace by their posse of pooches. Only because of my excess camera work rather than any lack of pace on my part I hasten to add…

Looking back towards hazy Windermere

Looking back towards hazy Windermere

Once I’d finished the first part of the main slog up to the top of Heron Pike, the wind was getting stronger and doing a more than adequate job of keeping me cool. As the views to my destination were now opening up I stopped for a spot of breakfast. The cloud that had been shrouding the summit first thing was still there, and despite the obvious strong winds up at the top (it was swirling around at a decent pace) it was showing little sign of clearing.

Breakfast view towards cloudy Fairfield

Breakfast view towards cloudy Fairfield

Great Rigg and Fairfield

Great Rigg and Fairfield

Once at this point the walk levels off slightly, although the ascent to Fairfield is one of those walks that has more ups and downs than is strictly necessary. Still, on a day like today, the views were looking particularly grand despite the haze.  Maybe my lack of enthusiasm for the route had been down to previous non visibility after all…

Looking back to Heron Pike and Windermere

Looking back to Heron Pike and Windermere

Still some way to go to the summit

Still some way to go to the summit

Looking back through the haze over the route just travelled

Looking back through the haze over the route just travelled

Once reaching the summit of Great Rigg with only Fairfield left to ascend I sat down for a while just to watch the cloud show. It was like one of those speeded up weather videos, except this was in real time. The cloud was whizzing across the summit of Fairfield, rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, yet over to the north west on the summit of Seat Sandal it was careering off into the sky in towering curlicues of white. If I owned a Lee big stopper filter, the results of slow shutter speeds here could have been interesting. However for once I was happy just to sit and watch.

Cloudwatching, Great Rigg

Cloudwatching, Great Rigg

Final approach to cloudy Fairfield

Final approach to cloudy Fairfield

The final walking route had yet to be decided. In good weather I often drop down from Fairfield to Grisedale Tarn,and then reascend up over Dollywagon Pike and then on to Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn, however today the murk on Helvellyn looked fairly thick and persistent.

I decided the best option was to descend out of the Fairfield cloud to Grisedale Tarn, and then have an unnecessary scramble up over Seat Sandal. Oddly I’d not actually ticked it off my Wainwright list until today, so it was good to do so, although it does lie awkwardly to one side between usual routes and  is a little aloof. I quite enjoyed it :)

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