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Fairfield North / 2 days / 12 miles (20km)

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Date: 13 Nov 2005
Start / Finish: Patterdale. Roadside parking for a few cars near the Post Office, also a car park and toilets.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 5: English Lakes North-East.

Day 1St. Sunday Crag & Fairfield6.1 miles / 3700 feet (9.8km / 1127m)
Day 2Little Hart Crag & Caiston Beck6.2 miles / 385 feet (10.0km / 117m)

A Fairfield Horseshoe from the North, approaching via St. Sunday Crag and returning via Hart Crag, Dove Crag and Little Hart Crag. The first day was clear, sunny and calm, and the first ice of the year had appeared on the pools.

Day 1 - St. Sunday Crag & Fairfield

A footpath follows the track to the R of the toilet block and a small sign diverts L just before the next building. On reaching a cross wall, a path turns L alongside it to climb to the minor rocky top of Arnison Crag. The views were already excellent and made all the richer by the autumnal sunlit hues of the bracken.

Place Fell from Arnison Crag
Place Fell from Arnison Crag (13 Nov 2005__09:04:23)
Birks & Gavel Pike from Arnison Crag
Birks & Gavel Pike from Arnison Crag (13 Nov 2005__09:08:13)

A path meanders SW along the ridge to Trough Head, with Birks and Gavel Pike ahead. At the saddle we turned W and climbed up to join a ruined wall. When the steep angle levels off, the summit of Birks lies a short way beyond, giving good views of the E ridge of Helvellyn and the climb ahead to St. Sunday Crag. A tiny stream at the col provided refreshment before the enjoyable ascent, and at the summit there was glorious sunshine and hardly a breath of wind, with superb views. Many figures could be seen on Striding Edge and Helvellyn.

Helvellyn from St. Sunday Crag cairn
Helvellyn from St. Sunday Crag cairn (13 Nov 2005__11:18:21)
Place Fell & Ullswater from St. Sunday Crag
Place Fell & Ullswater from St. Sunday Crag (13 Nov 2005__11:26:19)
Helvellyn ridges from St. Sunday Crag
Helvellyn ridges from St. Sunday Crag (13 Nov 2005__12:03:42)
Helvellyn buttresses from St. Sunday Crag
Helvellyn buttresses from St. Sunday Crag (13 Nov 2005__12:25:08)

Descending to Deepdale Hause and entering the shadow of Fairfield, the temperature dropped markedly as we climbed the steep dark rocks of Cofa Pike, which were quite slippery in places with frost and bits of ice. Emerging into sun on Fairfield, there were the expected groups of people enjoying the fantastic views from the flat stony top, some no doubt walking the famous Fairfield South horseshoe. Heading eastwards and keeping near the edge, there were good views into Deepdale as we approached the rocky top of Hart Crag. From the next col, we descended into Houndshope Cove to collect water at the head of Dovedale Beck, which was flowing just a few minutes walk away.

St. Sunday Crag from Cofa Pike
St. Sunday Crag from Cofa Pike (13 Nov 2005__12:44:48)
Seat Sandal & Grisedale Tarn from Cofa Pike
Seat Sandal & Grisedale Tarn from Cofa Pike (13 Nov 2005__13:01:29)
Ice-patterned pool on Fairfield & Striding Edge beyond
Ice-patterned pool on Fairfield & Striding Edge beyond (13 Nov 2005__14:04:40)

Climbing finally to Dove Crag, the sun was sinking and it was time to seek out a pitch. Although there was almost no wind now, we were mindful of the forecast which had predicted strong winds for the next day from a westerly direction. We found a grassy spot on the eastern side, with the moon rising over Caudale Moor.

Far Eastern fells from Hart Crag
Far Eastern fells from Hart Crag (13 Nov 2005__14:27:33)
Dove Crag pitch & moon rising over Far Eastern fells
Dove Crag pitch & moon rising over Far Eastern fells (13 Nov 2005__16:01:43)
Sunset from Dove Crag pitch
Sunset from Dove Crag pitch (13 Nov 2005__16:15:30)

Day 2 - Little Hart Crag & Caiston Beck

During the night we were reminded how important it is to keep an eye on the forecast as the wind picked up and strengthened dramatically, buffeting the tent even on the lee side. It was very strong by morning and we followed our well-oiled routine with military precision to ensure the tent was depitched safely. The tops were misted out too as we walked S to the boundary fence and took the path down to Bakestones Moss, where we were clear of the mist and the rocky Little Hart Crag came into view. There is a path to the summit, which is the first of the two tors. It was a pity not to see the impressive face of Dove Crag, the only view was down Scandale to Windermere.

Little Hart Crag
Little Hart Crag (14 Nov 2005__09:51:02)
Scandale Tarn
Scandale Tarn (14 Nov 2005__09:58:34)

We descended to Scandale Tarn and walked around it, hoping the mist would show some sign of clearing but it was getting worse. We walked down to Scandale Pass and took the Caiston Beck path, which doubled as a stream in a few places but was most enjoyable alongside the little falls and cascades. Passing Brothers Water and arriving at Cow Bridge, there is a permitted woodland path above the A592 that emerges onto the road verge just before Deepdale Bridge, leaving a short walk back to Patterdale.