Author Topic: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg  (Read 1031 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« on: 18:01:15, 03/01/21 »
Fairfield and Great Rigg

December 2020

Lockdowns and other commitments have prevented me from getting out onto the hills during November and December, much to my frustration, so I decided to make the effort between Christmas and New Year, whatever the weather, especially as there was snow on the tops. The weather forecast for Monday initially didn’t look too promising, with significant wind chill and the risk of more snow, but the chosen day dawned bright and still. My eldest son was keen to get out too, so I hunted out the spare ice axe, a wooden shafted Stubai ‘Alpenstock’ that is probably as old as I am!

We set off reasonably early and bagged a place in the big layby just north of the roundabout in Grasmere, getting on our way at 09:10.



Initially we followed the main road north, which was unusually quiet, enjoying the crisp morning air and the views of Helm Crag and the snow covered slopes either side of Dunmail Raise. Spotted a pair of buzzards circling above some roadside trees; their cries reminding me of my time in Snowdonia.

After a mile or so, we took the bridleway to Grisedale. This climbed pleasantly up above the banks of the wooded ravine containing Tongue Gill, with the sunlit snow covered slopes of Seat Sandal and Fairfield ahead.


Sunlight strikes the snow on the upper slopes of Seat Sandal (left) and Fairfield (right).


Looking back down Tongue Gill towards the Grasmere valley.

After crossing Little Tongue Gill, we climbed directly up the lower slopes of Seat Sandal, stopping to take in the view shortly after reaching the snowline.


Looking down the valley of Little Tongue Gill, with the Coniston hills in the distance

Onwards we climbed, until the route took a sharp turn to the east, traversing most pleasantly across the upper slopes of Seat Sandal towards Grisedale Hause, where we took a much needed break, a chance to admire the view of Grisedale Tarn and the surrounding snow plastered hills. There was hardly a breath of wind and the tarn was like a mirror.


Fairfield from the traversing path.


Grisedale Tarn with the slopes of Dollywaggon Pike beyond


My son about to tackle the steep western flank of Fairfield, St Sunday Crag to the left.


Another view of Grisedale Tarn and St Sunday Crag

We stopped to unstrap the ice axes before tackling the steep climb up Fairfield, but they were not really needed as the snow was very fresh and powdery. I made heavy weather of the climb, not really on top form, and my son had to stop and wait a few times. I was relieved to reach the summit plateau. I was expecting biting winds up here, but it was perfectly still, most unusual conditions for a snow covered mountain top in late December!


The view to the North West – Great End (far left), Great Gable, Pillar and the Grasmoor group (right)


The snow plastered Helvellyn range – an interesting day to be on Striding Edge.


Snow covered Cross Fell is visible in the far distance to the left, High Street to the right.


The view South East – High Street and the Ill Bell ridge. Ingleborough is just visible in the distance far right.


From left to right – Bowfell, Scafell and Scafell Pike, Great End, Great Gable, Pillar.


A panoramic shot of the Western fells. Click to enlarge.

My son did suggest a diversion out to Hart Crag, but I had had enough and I exercised my right of veto. Instead we decided to return over Great Rigg and Heron Pike, prolonging the pleasure with a gentle descent along an airy ridge.


Windermere and the lower forest clad hills of the South Lakes; Great Rigg to the right.


Looking back towards Helvellyn and Fairfield from near the summit of Great Rigg.

A short climb bought us to the top of Great Rigg, in reality little more than a bump on Fairfield’s southern ridge, but a good viewpoint, nonetheless. Below the summit slopes, a path branched off to the right, a more direct way down, but we continued onwards along the ridge, delightfully easy going.


Coniston and Grasmere, with Alcock Tarn sparkling like a jewel in the sunlight. Wisps of cloud are starting to form over Grey Friar far right.

I hadn’t given too much thought to our way down off the hill – there was a right of way descending westwards from the summit of Heron Pike, but it was suspiciously straight and led over some steep ground, and I began to doubt whether a path existed. Alcock Tarn attracted my attention, sparkling in the sunlight, and the map suggested that the descent to the tarn from Heron Pike was straight forward; so it proved to be. We aimed for the southern end of the tarn, angling across the slopes to the left.


Grasmere from the descent to Alcock Tarn (lower right)

Alcock Tarn was lovely, the still waters reflecting the snow covered hills. We chose the path to the north – this proved to be steep and icy in places, and we both slipped a couple of times. No harm done though, and we arrived back at the car just under 6 hours after setting off. A glorious 8 miles.


Alcock Tarn – well worth the detour.

So glad that I got this walk in before we were locked down again. A good finish to what for many has been a dismal year.
« Last Edit: 08:00:55, 04/01/21 by richardh1905 »
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Ridge

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #1 on: 18:37:45, 03/01/21 »
They are lovely photos Richard, the reflections in the tarn is great.

GinAndPlatonic

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #2 on: 18:47:22, 03/01/21 »
So very well worth the effort indeed. Great images of what looks a superb route .  :)
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Mel

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #3 on: 19:03:20, 03/01/21 »
Superb write up and pics Richard  O0


Perfect winter walking conditions  :)
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karl h

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #4 on: 19:07:45, 03/01/21 »

Lovely pictures from a great round  O0
Alcock tarn is always worth a visit, a little jewel of a tarn :)
Thanks for sharing Richard
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #5 on: 19:30:24, 03/01/21 »
Thanks for the comments, Ridge, G&P, Mel, Karl.


Weather was just perfect - sunshine and not a breath of wind on the summit. In fact, I felt distinctly overdressed in my fibre pile salopettes and fleece.


So glad that I managed to get this walk in before we were plunged into Tier 4 restrictions.




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forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #6 on: 19:31:39, 03/01/21 »
Stunning, Fairfield in these conditions (any of the routes up) is a pleasure but the Little Tongue route is for some reason one of my favourites.  I think I tend to prefer valley walks as ascents and then a meandering descent over the tops when I can congratulate myself on the effort and just enjoy the views for the rest of the day.   The tarns look especially enchanting when they're that reflective.  I'll have to add Alcock Tarn to places I want to visit, I tend to end up meandering straight past it.


Hope you and the lad get to enjoy some more winter trips before the end of the season, lockdown permitting!


Dovegirl

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #7 on: 19:50:18, 03/01/21 »
Stunning photos, Richard    :)     Snow, sunshine and blue skies are a winning combination

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #8 on: 22:57:32, 03/01/21 »
Thanks FMOP, Dovegirl.


The Tongue path was quite a slog, but the traverse across the slopes of Seat Sandal was really enjoyable. And the route down was excellent, an airy ridge walk prolonging the pleasure, before visiting delightful Alcock Tarn. But I have to say that my favourite way up is from the east, via Dovedale and Hart Crag.


Both of my sons enjoy the hills - indeed my eldest son, who accompanied me on this walk, has started heading out on his own - he climbed Red Screes and High Street recently, and in late summer he headed north and tackled Ben Dorain! I was hoping to introduce him to some ice axe technique on this walk, but the snow was far too fresh.
« Last Edit: 23:04:22, 03/01/21 by richardh1905 »
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pdstsp

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #9 on: 09:23:26, 04/01/21 »
Great pictures and write up Richard - nice to see someone out on the fells!!  That path up Fairfield from Grizedale Hause sure is a slog!

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #10 on: 11:04:32, 04/01/21 »
Great pictures and write up Richard - nice to see someone out on the fells!!


Thanks - my last outing onto the higher fells for some time, I fear. But I am lucky in that I have some lovely country on my doorstep. Just back from walking the dog up Fell End, in fact - sunlight sparkling on the wet sands of Morecambe Bay, Coniston Old Man plastered in snow, the striking silhouette of Ingleborough away to the east.... lovely.



Quote
That path up Fairfield from Grizedale Hause sure is a slog!


...especially when covered in powdery snow!
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pdstsp

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #11 on: 12:51:34, 04/01/21 »
At least the snow covers the scree!! ;D

windyrigg

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #12 on: 14:59:26, 04/01/21 »
Absolutely stunning winter wonderland ! We live in Northumberland so cant enjoy the Lakes at present, I'm extremely envious ,
I'll be across the A69 as soon as we can.
I did a similar route on my last visit to the Lakes, with a detour up Seat Sandal, another grand day out.

vghikers

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #13 on: 15:03:32, 04/01/21 »
Great report and photos of the winterscape, it's been a long time since we walked in that much snow.  O0

All of it will be gone by the time we are back on the hills anyway.  :(


April

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Re: TR - Fairfield and Great Rigg
« Reply #14 on: 17:44:31, 04/01/21 »
Great stuff Richard  O0


We were all set to get out in the snow on New Years Eve and the following 3 days but Tier 4 came at the wrong time for us  :( Of course the weather was pretty perfect, although very cold, for those 4 days. We know when we are allowed to travel beyond local for exercise again the weather will be dreadful!
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