So, our first walk in the lakes. And what a walk it turned out to be! This is one of the more popular walks in the lakes, so much so it felt like we were walking up Northumberland Street on a Saturday. While I prefer it to be quiet when we walk, this being busy just went along with everything that was right, and all that went oh so wrong!
We turned up on Friday to Ambleside at around 5pm. Headed for the camp site only to find out that it was full. We had a few back ups off the net and next went along to Tarn Foot Farm and that did have spaces. Its just a basic camp, well, field, but was all that we wanted. A field, a toilet and a basin outside. There are others with cafe’s and showers but this suited us fine.
We set the two tents up, got sorted and that was us for the night (well ok, via Ambleside in a taxi for a chinees and a few beers but thats another story!).
Next day after cooking breakfast (and a crap nights sleep due to snoring, some loony shouting and what sounded like big bird outside my tent) off we went.
The Fairfield horse shoe takes you from Ambleside, starting at Rydal road, up through rydal hall (you can also camp here) and up the first hill that is Nab Scar. This way round has a pretty heavy start. It certainly gets the old heart pumping. We stopped a couple of times on the way up as did everyone else that was there. We must have seen about 20 people in total going up that morning.
As we went up, we could tell the weather wasnt quite as we hoped. the cloud ceiling was pretty low and covering the tops. Still, there were some good views from this point until we made our way over the top after our first main rest.
The path continues upwards and you move over to Heron Pike. It was here where the cloud fell and visability really started to suffer. From heron pike you move over to Fairfield. This was a bizarre and earie place. Mainly due to the cloud. Around here is a fairly open area with many small cairns. People were using these to rest behind. you could see maybe 15ft around you at this point, just picking out shadows of people in the distance. Was also here where we realised our location as a break in the cloud revealed a rather dramatic drop to the side.
You do need to be careful here. The paths are far from obvious and there are a few walks that come through this point. there are also a few downward slopes that lead to nothing but even steeper falls on loose ground and a good drop. So, care is needed and a compass here is useful to ensure you head off in the right direction. which, as it happens, is exactly what we didnt do!
No, we decided to follow another group. the way down was pretty treacherous and you had to be steady on your feet. As soon as you started to go down, the view cleared and we realised our error. So, it was back up we went and this was even harder. We took the direct route and clambering up the side of that was hair raising indeed. Would only have took one slip….
This last image shows the crag we had to come over. This is the one Im not sure about. Is it Dove Crag or St Sunday Crag?
Anyway, once back up we had to be steady again. A wind was picking up and we had to climb over the top of the crag. Really not what I expected to be doing and this was really a test of nerve. In honesty, if I knew Id have been doing this before the walk Id have probably changed my mind. But, when you;re there, you might as well go, so over we went.
Ten or fifteen teeth clenching minutes later and we’re over and onward to Hart Crag and Dove crag. This path was thin with severe drops either side. Then to make it trickier, there was a very strong blustery wind coming up the valley and over this path side on. Going up te hill to Dove Crag really made me know how Frodo felt climbing up mount Doom! Well, if he was really anyway. And not a hobbit. And less the volcanic rock of course. Ok, maybe not like mount Doom but still….
Then, after all this excitement, ours heads clearly as misty and the tops were, we made a fatal calculation. Sitting on top of Dove Crag we set off on our chosen path. Checking the compass which pointed north east at this point we realised that the walk details said to follow the path south. Of course, we knew that south was right over the edge of the cliff and down so scoffed at the intructions. they must be wrong!
On we went, the clear views now allowing for some fantastic views. A mixture of the views and what had genuinly been a hard (physically and mentally!) treck made us apprectiate these even more.
Interestingly, a note in our instructions here said to pay particular attention to the route as many walker made the easy mistake of following the main path and not the path south (that we wanted). Yes, we made the exact mistake it said not to do. We walked on then for another good few miles. A steady downward path.
The correct route is south and down over high Pike and down into Ambleside.
I still need to determine what route we actually took. If we did actually even hit dove crag. We’ve been told that it looks like we came across St Sunday Crag. Either way, we ended up down below in the town of Patterdale. Patterdale? Yes, and how far is Ambleside we asked a guy walking a dog. With seeming delight he told us, about 8 mile. We walked on to find the Patterdale Hotel, outside the tables seated about 20 other walkers of different groups. I wondered if they all made the same error.
So, a quick bus ride to Windermere and a taxi to Ambleside later had us back. I still would like to know just what route we took and where we had clambered. Im looking at our photo’s and comparing to images Ive seen of these places. I blame a mixture of the poor visibility and us not trusting the compass and directions! Still, looking back I can laugh. It was a good walk afterall, all 7 hours of it.
Now where was that shower again? ….