All The Walking Routes up Fairfield 5/5 (1)

Further Information

Location Map

Fairfield Facts: 
  • Fairfield is the 7th tallest mountain in England
  • Two of the Lake District’s famous Horseshoes climb Fairfield – The Fairfield Horseshoe and the Deepdale Horseshoe.

Why is it called Fairfield?

It used to be called Rydal Head, but Fairfield means exactly that. The ‘fair or pleasant fell’

Fairfield Weather Forecast:

Met Office Lake District Fairfield Horseshoe Mountain Weather

Where is Fairfield?

Fairfield can be found in the Lake District’s Eastern fells to the east of Helvellyn. Grasmere and Ambleside are to the south, Patterdale to the north.

How High is Fairfield in metres / feet? Fairfield is 873 metres in height (or 2,864 feet high)

How long will it take to walk up Fairfield ?

The Rydal Fell route can be completed in 2-3 hours. Some other approaches are more complicated and involve subsidiary summits and so will naturally take longer.

How Far is it to the top of Fairfield? 

Most of the routes to the summit are around 7km or longer, with the route from Dunmail Rise to Grisedale Tarn being the shortest at around 3km

How hard is it to climb Fairfield 

The Rydal Fell approach is reasonably straightforward, but beware the summit plateau in mist as it can be tricky to navigate. There are also some borderline scrambling if you seek it out on the St Sunday Crag approach.

What’s the best walking route up Fairfield?

Probably the ascent via St Sunday Crag.

Which is the easiest walking route up Fairfield ?

The shortest route is from Grisedale Tarn, but only if you approach from Dunmail Rise! It can be one of the longer ones if started from Patterdale.

All The Walking Routes up Fairfield Details

Fairfield at 873 metres high, depending on how you define a mountain, is the 7th highest mountain in England – or the 6th highest in the Lake District and is one of the most popular mountains in the Lakes. It’s busy but slightly quieter than the neighbouring Helvellyn, and has a range of walks up to the summit to suit most abilities.

Most will walk up via the Fairfield Horseshoe, a classic walk but not the only route up and not the only classic circular route, with the Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale being the other classic route up Fairfield. The views from the summit are extensive with Helvellyn to the west dominating the view, as well as those south towards Windermere.

One of the most famous caves in the UK can be found on the northern crags of Hart Fell – Priest’s Hole. You can stay the night in this cave, but thanks to the Secret Britain TV show popularising these so-called “secret” locations, it may no longer be as appealing as it becomes overly popular and the invariable problems that brings.

Fairfield can be ascended from Grasmere, Ambleside or Patterdale/Glendidding with the links through to more detailed articles on those places providing more information on pubs and how to get to the respective starting points.

All the Walking Routes up Fairfied

Fairfield Horseshoe – Rydal Fell and Great Rigg

Height Gained – 900 metres,  Distance – 7 km from Rydal (9km from Ambleside), Time –2.5 hours.

This route up Fairfield start from Rydal, though you can also start off from Ambleside as a convenient start for the famous Fairfield Horseshoe. The route starts up steeply before following the grassy ridge of Heron Pike and Rydal Fell, this is a pleasant and straightforward enough approach. This route can also be started from Grasmere via Stone Arthur.

Fairfield Horseshoe – Hart Crag from Ambleside

Height Gained – 940 metres,  Distance – 9 km, Time – 3 hours.

The second half of the Fairfield Horeshoe has the added bonus of including a few extra summits of Hart Crag and Dove Crag and is a bit more rugged than the Rydal Fell half of the horseshoe.

Fairfield from the Scandale Pass

Height Gained – 900 metres,  Distance – 10 km, Time –3.5 hours.

You can also approach the Hart Crag route from the Scandale Pass. That can be either from Ambleside (distance given), from Brother’s Water to the north or via Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass


Fairfield via Birks and St Sunday Crag

Height Gained – 920 metres,  Distance – 7.5 km, Time –3.5 hours.

The ascent from Patterdale via Birks and St Sunday Crag is the first section of the Deepdale Horseshoe, the more rugged and less popular of the two Fairfield Horseshoes. Not only does this route include the bonus summit of St Sunday Crag which is the 10th highest English mountain, but also includes a final scramble over Cofa Pike to reach Fairfield’s summit. This is probably the best approach to Fairfield, with the northern aspect of the mountain

All The Walking Routes up Fairfield
Cofa Pike and Fairfield from Deepdale Hause

Fairfield via Hartsop above How

Height Gained – 820 metres,  Distance – 8 km, Time –2.5 hours.

The route up Fairfield from Hartsop forms the second half of the Deepdale Horseshoe and can also be walked from Patterdale. This is a rugged route with a scenic start that then follows the Hartsop above How ridge to Hart Crag and then on to Fairfield’s summit. Certainly the choice for those looking for a quieter approach.

The Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale - All The Walking Routes up Fairfield

Fairfield from Grisedale Hause

Height Gained – 780 metres,  Distance – 4.2 km, Time –2.5 hours. (via Seat Sandal from Grasmere)

Our final route is one that can be started from numerous locations. You can start from Grisedale, an alternative to the St Sunday Crag approach for those who don’t want to attempt Cofa Pike. You can also start from Grasmere or Dunmail Rise, with an ascent of Seat Sandal on the way recommended.

Fairfield via Greenhow End

Height Gained – 780 metres,  Distance – 4.2 km, Time –2.5 hours. (via Seat Sandal from Grasmere)

The final route is a lesser known and certainly less popular route up Fairfield via Greenhow End from Deepdale Bridge.  Approached with a walk in through Deepdale and Mossydale before climbing up to Link Cove before the final climb. Greenhow End is a borderline scramble, with some lines such as the Light Slabs and Dark Slabs providing Grade II and III scrambles respectively, before you top out and join the eastern approaches for the final few 100m to Fairfield’s summit.


Please rate this

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

More Articles by Dave Roberts

Leave a Reply