Fairfield then an Up

Fairfield and Seat Sandal - 15 Feb. 14

There are those in our group whose preference is to walk at lower level and there are others who very much like to get out into the hills. Todays walk was for the latter category. This type of walk, however, puts a certain amount of pressure on the walk leader, who has to assess the conditions that are likely to be encountered on the walk, then weigh up the capabilities of the group that assembles at the start. With this in mind there were two options available for today's walk. Given the small, well equiped group that turned up on the car park at Pelter Bridge the decision for the day was to go Plan A, but in the knowledge conditions were likely to be a bit rough on the tops of the hills.

Heading off, we made our way up past Rydal Church, then along the coffin route below Nab Scar, before climbing steadily up to Alcock Tarn and a short coffee break. From there we took a slightly rising, diagonal traverse to join the ridge just below Lord's Crag. Here we got our first taste of the elements, that increased considerably as we headed upwards over Heron Pike and Greatrigg Man towards Fairfield. By then conditions were quite severe with areas of frozen older snow and accumulations of new snow underfoot, and gale force icy cold winds blowing snow and spindrift from our left. Our stay on the summit was short lived, as we then turned with our faces into the wind to make our descent. With some of us now wearing our spikes, we lost height as quickly as we could, eventually finding a haven out of the wind just above Grisedale Hause, where we had a belated lunch.

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After lunch we dropped down to Grisedale Hause, then breaking trail through, in places, deep new snow, we started the short but, steep climb towards Seat Sandal. By now the weather was improving by the minute and by the time we reached the summit, we were able to enjoy fine views all round. These views stayed with us all the way down the long, shallow ridge to Mill Bridge, on the outskirts of Grasmere. Now on the valley floor, we took the minor road, under Helm Crag, into the village and another short break for refreshments. A short road section took us out of the village, where we joined the scenic path, round the south of Grasmere lake and Rydal Water, which led us back to our cars.

There were 6 of us on the walk, who all felt they'd had their full money's worth in the 14 miles and 4000ft of ascent the walk had provided.