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The Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale

By Dave Chick   

on August 29, 2018    5/5 (1)

The Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale

Further Details

Route Summary:

The ‘other’ Fairfield Horseshoe, this time starting in Patterdale and making a circuit high above Deepdale.

This walk includes the 6 Wainwrights of Fairfield, St Sunday Crag, Hart Crag, Birks, Hartsop Above How (Gill Crag – Hartsop Above How), Arnison Crag

This walk includes the 3 Hewitts of Fairfield, St Sunday Crag, Hart Crag

This walk includes the 4 Nuttalls of Fairfield, St Sunday Crag, Hart Crag, Birks

Route Start Location: The White Lion Inn, Patterdale

15.56 km 966 m 5 - 6 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Hard Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Patterdale and the neighbouring Glenridding have plenty of hotels, pubs, B&Bs and toilets.


The climb up Cofa Pike verges on scrambling in a few short locations, nothing that would alarm a confident walker. The small peak may also feel slightly exposed.

The summit plateau of Fairfield is very flat and can pose a navigational challenge in poor weather.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking : CA11 0NN (Patterdale Hotel)

There is a Pay and Display car park located opposite the Patterdale Hotel (NY 39597 15921). There is also a large Pay and Display car park in Glenridding which is viable for this walk. Finally, free parking can be found next to the phone box at Bridgend but is severely limited (NY 39924 14386).

Public Transport:

The 208 bus serves Patterdale from Keswick during the summer and early autumn seasons.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


The Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

The Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale

The valley of Deepdale delves into the heart of the Eastern Fells, creating a fantastic valley ringed by dark, towering crags. While the Deepdale Horseshoe is less celebrated than the Fairfield Horseshoe, it is no less enjoyable and is much quieter. The main objective of Fairfield remains the same but you’ll be approaching from the north east, crossing the impressive peaks of St. Sunday Crag and Cofa Pike on the way. While the summits on this walk are not among the highest in the Lake District, the steep slopes and craggy faces give this walk a true mountain feel.

Deepdale Horseshoe Route Description

1 – The first objective of the day is Arnison Crag, a mountain in all but stature. From car park, take a left and follow the A592 to the White Lion Inn (an excellent watering hole by the way). Shortly beyond the pub, nestled between the pub car park and a row of white cottages is a tarmac track leading south (NY 39691 15830). Follow the path as it climbs through the trees and up the fell side (keep left at the fork behind the village store). At the second wall (NY 39258 15713), turn left to climb a path south alongside a drystone wall which leads up beneath Oxford Crag. The path steepens as it reaches the rocky knoll that is Arnison Crag’s summit (technically the highest point is further along the ridge but the views are better from this point). This small fell has some impressive views thanks to its position at the end of Ullswater.

2 – Follow the crest of the Arnison Crag ridge where the path becomes a bit vague in places, aiming for the broad col of Trough Head (NY 38828 14391). After reaching the col, head west to make a direct climb towards the summit crest of Birks. A drystone wall can aid navigation. The climb here is steep and grassy but you should emerge close to the rounded summit of Birks.

3 – From Birks, you should see the eastern end of St. Sunday Crag rearing up ahead of you which can only mean one thing – more climbing. Head south west along a path to the base of the ridge above Blind Cove and start climbing. This is another steep section but the path is clear and easy to follow. As the gradient finally eases as you reach the edge of St Sunday Crags summit plateau. The small summit cairn stands on the south side of the plateau, atop a small rocky outcrop. If time and energy permit, a trip to Gavel Pike is well worth the effort as it has a superb view of the crags and coves of Fairfield’s northern face.

4 – Descend west from St. Sunday Crags summit along the west ridge, which narrows as it crosses Deepdale Hause. From the hause, the narrow rock crest of Cofa Pike rises dramatically ahead of you, marking the last significant climb of the walk. Cofa Pike is best climbed by following the crest of the ridge where you may encounter a couple of exposed sections. These can be bypassed on the right-hand side if you feel uncomfortable. After the excitement of Cofa Pike you will reach Fairfield’s summit.

6 – Fairfields stony top has no real features to guide navigation and the dozens of cairns and low shelters can be confusing in the mist. As with any broad summit, the best views can be found towards the edges. These are particularly good towards Helvellyn in the north.

7 – From Fairfield’s summit, the Deepdale route continues east initially before turning south east towards Hart Crag. The best walking for this section along the rim of the immense cliffs that line Fairfield’s northern face – careful if the clouds are down! Drop down into the col above Link Cove and make the brisk climb to Hart Crag’s summit, marked by a large stone cairn.

8 – Hart Crag marks the beginning of the end (though there is plenty of walking to do!), you’ll be descending all the way back to Patterdale from here. From the summit cairn, follow a narrow path east-northeast that drops swiftly down onto the upper reaches of Hartsop above How. Once you reach Blake Brow, the sweeping ridge is revealed ahead of you, enclosing the southern side of Deedale. This descent is one of the easiest in the Lakes thanks to its easy gradient. Follow the line of the ridge until you reach the woods above Bridgend.

9 -Take the left hand path through the trees to reach Deepdale Bridge and the A592.Take a left a follow back to Patterdale.I goes without saying that speeding cars can be hazard but there is a footpath / pavement to follow, even if it does switch sides several times! Reward yourself with a well-earned pint in the White Lion.

Dave is our Lake District local expert, often found in the depths of Cumbria he's the author of his own part on the web, All the Gear but no Idea.
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