Adults Only Weekend Part 2 – Fairfield and Seat Sandal   12 comments

Buoyed by a fine walk the previous day, another hearty fried breakfast and the bonus of Uncle Fester now a member of the team we were mad keen for another day – well most of us anyway. F & J had to return home to collect the kids so the rest of us set off into the hills.



After heading west the previous day it was east this time and a route up to Fairfield one of Lakelands better known peaks.


6.2 miles, 3,200 feet of ascent

The classic walk is the “Fairfield Horseshoe” but that starts from Ambleside so we fashioned a route up the Western ridges with a planned return over Seat Sandal. The pace was if anything a little slower than the day before perhaps a result of the previous evenings late adventures, more likely that the advancing years makes 2 days fell-walking on the trot something of a challenge.



It was a chilly morning with some clear patches, another great walking day and again we thanked the gods for smiling on us for the second day in a row.

Helm Crag

Helm Crag

We paused by the side of Greenhead Gill to argue about the best way. I wanted to go via Alcock Tarn to see what it was like. We’d walked past it last year but even at the modest altitude of 1000 feet it was in the cloud and pishing with rain so I wanted to see it in the sunshine.

Grasmere with tiny Alcock Tarn

Grasmere, Alcock Tarn in middle left of the shot

I lost and we took a route up via Stone Arthur so Mark could bag another Birkett (any rock, boulder or tussock worthy of a name). As you can imagine there are hundreds of the bloody things and Mark has dragged us over plenty the last couple of years. I’m kidding of course and they have given us the chance to explore some of the lesser known ridges and quieter spots and in the Lakes that’s a blessing.

It was a steep toil up to the top but well worth it with some cracking views all around. We managed to find a relatively sheltered spot for a long early lunch and to contemplate the now relatively easy climb to the ridge and beyond.

Stone Arthur

Lunch on Stone Arthur

We reached the ridge at Great Rigg where winter really reared its head with a light dusting of snow and biting cold wind. The southern ridge of Fairfield is a real delight, wide, easy angled with open views across most of the Southern and Eastern mountains. I’ve been up Fairfield a couple of times and only once from the south on a damp, misty day back in the 90’s so I was really enjoying this chance to see it properly.

Great Rigg

Approaching Great Rigg

Fairfield, Helvellyn

Fairfield and Helvellyn

If winter had reared its head on Great Rigg then it bit us on the ar5e on the summit of Fairfield. It was icy cold with a strong biting wind that forced a very swift and hasty retreat off the huge summit plateau. It was a panic of hastily donned hats and gloves. There is always a day at the start of winter when it catches you unawares with your mind still tethered to summer and autumn. The wind snapped that tether.


Fairfield summit

Even though the sky was now heavier with cloud the views were superb with St Sunday Crag looking especially proud above Grisedale. We plunged down the steep and scree covered west slopes down towards Grisedale Tarn.

Grisedale Tarn, Seat Sandal

Grisedale Tarn and Seat Sandal

I mentioned that I’d been up Fairfield a couple of times in the past. My first visit was not my most auspicious day in the hills. That day, 27 years ago we’d traversed St Sunday Crag without incident and after a brief stop on the summit of Fairfield headed off in the same direction as now towards Grisedale Tarn. We were in dense cloud so I dutifully took a bearing and then promptly ignored it. As we emerged from the cloud-base I was a trifle disappointed that the tarn wasn’t where it was supposed to be. I tried to blame it on conservationists filling the tarn in but no-one believed me. After much faffing about (we were a large group of Hiking Club people with me as leader) we found the Tarn having gone too far south and ended up heading down Tongue Gill. I was a little embarrassed to say the least and our plan to take in Helvellyn was over. Still, the worst was behind me or so I thought as we took the broad easy path down Grisedale. I promptly fell over and cut my hand open quite expansively on a sharp rock – I’m looking at that scar now. Humiliation complete and my so-called friends who were with me that day in 1985 and were with me on this day still remind me of it with some measure of hilarity. Gits!

Grisedale Tarn, Fairfield, St Sunday Crag

Grisedale Tarn, St Sunday Crag & Fairfield

Back to the present and I recalled every steep scree ridden step of that descent. After a brief and very cold stop at Grisedale Hause we headed up the very steep slopes to Seat Sandal.

Seat Sandal

Seat Sandal summit

It’s quite an isolated and stately peak yet surprisingly no-one in our little posse had ever climbed it before. Not sure why as it’s a grand hill with great views north to Skiddaw and Thirlmere and south back down to Grasmere. The day had turned a little drizzly and it was still cold so we simply headed down the nice grassy and easy angled ridge that took us pretty well back to our cars at the Travellers Rest. After a some goodbyes and a warming cuppa in the pub it was time to head home

Grasmere, Seat Sandal

Grasmere from Seat Sandal

You can read Marks alternative view of the day here

Top weekend for one and all, some great walking, a super sunset and cold wintry day on the high fells. Combined with happy companionship of old friends it was as always a weekend to remember


12 responses to “Adults Only Weekend Part 2 – Fairfield and Seat Sandal

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  1. House! I wondered about telling that story, but I’m glad I left it to you. The EWO claimed that he and I did Seat Sandal one winter with the Outdoor Ed team when we did our PGCE. I remember the day, and doing lots of ice-axe arrest practice in totally unsuitable deep snow, but not where we were. My memory’s rotten as you know, so I shall have to accept that he was right. I think I may have done it once since too – one summer evening, but…well I’m not sure. If only I had an aide-memoire, perhaps somewhere to keep a record of all of my walks, you know – tell the story, maybe add a few photos…..


    • Now there’s an idea, now if only there was some kind of technology that allowed ypu to publish your thoughts and photos to a wider audience far and wide across the whole world for free. A sort of communications tool that connected everbody like some kind of web. Now that would be something

      You’ve kind of spoiled my “none of us had been there before” thoughts but no-one said a blog has to be true

      I thought that story was worth telling – if only I had some photos I could post. Me with hair, EWO looking, well much like he does today, you sticking two fingers up (why did you always do that in a photo). Carefree (and in my case, clumsy and incompetant) days 🙂


      • I was punk rock……..or a juvenile idiot. Anyway – I didn’t always stick two fingers up, sometimes it was just one. Sometimes I simply stuck my tongue out. It could have been worse I suppose….bet that’s left you with a nice image. Heh heh….


      • Yep….liked the comment that no-one said a blog has to be true. As an expert in this particular area I can confirm that such a blog exists. :D. Quite frankly it makes blogging a hell of a lot easier. Great to see hills again…I’d forgotten what they looked like. 😦


        • Yes I know a blog that I’ve recently started reading again that seems to have only the slightest connection to reality 🙂

          Been really lucky this autumn and winter with some stunning days amongst the rain, another cracking day in the snow from the weekend just gone to post as well


  2. I love the colors in the Helm Crag picture!


  3. You know, between you and Mark you don’t really need any more comments from anyone else on your posts. They always seem to tell an extra story or two as well…..

    Still looked like a good walk though. Must be 25 years since I was up Fairfield.


    • Not content with boring each other we can use the blogosphere to bore a whole new collection of people 🙂

      Great day – I love being out in cold winter conditions. Makes you feel really alive in a way that warmer just can’t.


  4. Great photos Andy. Those hills look really inviting – it is ages since I walked in that area.


    • Thanks Mark, it was a great day. I’ve been walking in the central Lakes on this little friends gathering for the past few years and really getting to know it again after a long break.


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