A snowy day up Fairfield

DSC_2753Blog Post 25 –

 

Date: Monday 18th January

Distance: 6.5 miles

Wainwright Count: 4

Wainwrights: Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg and Fairfield

Who with: My best mate Susie, the Patterdale Terrier (of course)!

 

After a lovely weekend of blue skies and lovely fresh snow, it was just my luck that my planned Monday walk would be in rain and blustery winds, but that wasn’t the case. After a 6 am start from my home, I parked up at Rydal Mount at about 8.15am and set off walking at 8.30am, on what was a cold, icy but dry morning.

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We headed up to the top of the road, passing a family heading sledging to make the most of the weekend’s snow. We continued past some lovely cottages and through the gate, where the path proceeded onto the fell side. It climbs relatively steeply, but the path is a good firm one, albeit extremely icy on the day in question. Susie was dancing off in her usual fashion, excited about her walk in the fells (as always), but even more so, when there was snow everywhere for her to roll in!

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We followed the path, which zig-zags up, gaining height up this little fell. Whilst small, Nab Scar offers fantastic views down the valley towards Windermere and down to Rydal water, which looked stunning and so still on this occasion. Not a breath of wind, and what you would call a typical British winter day (or not so, following the last 60 days of rain!). Although Susie was keen to press on to the deeper snow, I took the opportunity to watch the sun rising over the top of Wansfell Pike, which dominates the Ambleside skyline. It was stunning, with the sun slowly burning off the cloud inversion which sat above the Lakeland town, all the way South to the big lake.

 

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Susie quickly let me know that enough was enough and that she thought we had spent long enough here by heading off on her own up the winding path. The depth of the snow soon started increasing from that at the valley floor level and provided the true winter experience. I am someone who always likes to be on the go, doing something, but I could have quite happily sat there and watched the sun rising for a good while, but we continued, and after doing so, we saw there were three chaps and a couple of Springer Spaniels following us up the path.

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We walked a bit further, where the views opened out over Rydal and towards Grasmere, which whilst a touch misty, were still magnificent in their stillness. It was pleasant walking with these views as we continued to make progress up Lord Crag, although the wind slowly started to pick up at this point and the views disappeared into complete whiteout, which is quite an experience, if you have never been in complete whiteness. I had been up this route a few times however, so knew which way the path headed, which is a good job, as there were no orientation points with all the snow, and due to being the first on the fell, there were no previous footprints, due to the previous night’s snow fall.

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Susie was happy enough though skipping along and jumping in as many mounds of snow, as possible. So, we pressed on, hoping to eventually walk through the cloud, or for it to lift, but this wasn’t to be. It was still a nice change to being in the lashing down rain though, which we had been receiving for the last couple of months, so I wouldn’t be complaining. We continued on in complete blindness, until we had reached Heron Pike, where we stopped for a quick brew, and a minute’s rest. It was after a few moments however, that we heard the voices of the party of walkers behind us, who had nearly caught us up, so we pressed on, after Susie had finished her toast! (Spoilt dog)

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We carried on up towards Great Rigg and then to Fairfield, with little view but high spirits, and whilst we couldn’t see much, it was still enjoyable conditions, and always nice to test your navigational skills. Every so often, we heard the echoes of the voices of the following walking group, when the wind blew right, although this became less so, as the force of the wind increased as we progressed. We headed up Fairfield, by which time Susie was drowning in snow in parts, and had got some lovely new white eye lashes from the spindrift on the fell side, so we decided to turn back, and head back the way we came, as we had to be back down for just after lunch.

Susie, now knowing exactly where we were heading sprinted off into the distance, and out of sight, before returning back to me, and doing the same again….which continued for the 3-3.5 miles back to the car. A few minutes after starting to retrace our steps, we met the party that had been following us, who were three seemingly nice blokes, who were going to do the full round, a walk I had enjoyed a few times previously. We stopped for a minute, and exchanged pleasantries before continuing our separate ways (literally). The walk back was similar to heading up, in terms of the conditions and it wasn’t until we had passed Heron Pike that we began to descend out of the clouds, which didn’t lift all day from what I saw.

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At this time, we got chatting to a lovely couple who were out for a wander, and looked rather relieved not to be alone on the fells. We had a chat and then they continued on, although they were disappointed that the mist had been present throughout my entire walk. We continued down to Nab Scar again, where the spectacular view towards Rydal and Windermere greeted me, a view that I don’t think you could ever tire of.

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The path had become very icy during my walk and coming down the path was a slow step at a time, and I was thankful for my walking poles, which help my dodgy knee! I was even considering donning the crampons, which I hadn’t required throughout the entire walk, but contemplated in the last 500 metres, which is rather amusing. I soldiered on though and slowly made progress down, past the cottages, which I could quite happily live in given the choice! I returned to my old Land Rover, which was now surrounded in workers cones, much to my dismay. These cones had been present all the way up the road by Rydal Mount on my arrival, but stopped near the top, where I parked, but obviously they hadn’t gone far enough the night before. Anyway, after a quick brew and a biscuit, and further manoeuvring around the cones, we were on our way back home, where real life would no doubt continue to get in the way of my fun.

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A lovely walk out with Susie, who was now well and truly goosed, after all her running in the snow….she probably covered twice the distance that I did!

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