The Fairfield Horseshoe
Another day with the doctor
When the call comes from Dr Robert Pontefract, one instinctively knows that an unusual outing is on the cards. Be it spending a night out on Tower Ridge or Great Gully on Craig yr Ysfa or even just dragging a rope and rack around the Yorkshire three peaks to climb a very green ‘Red pencil direct’ you can be sure that returning before nightfall won’t be part of the plan. That is if there is a plan at all!
It went a bit like this…”The weather looks better in the west so we’ll head over towards the Roaches. Bring walking gear too. I’ll pick you up at 8am”. Well, it was 9 before I finally clapped eyes on that bean pole lunatic and west we went…then north a bit until at 1pm we found ourselves in Ambleside where coincidentally were bumped into Peter ‘The Machine’ Machin. It’s a small world.
I wanted a hill, just one and that hill was Pike O’Blisco. Sadly the Langdale fells were smothered in cloud and one hill was never going to satisfy Dr Bob so it was decided that the Fairfield Horseshoe looked like a good bet. Having never done it before I would have been chomping at the bit were it not for one small detail, I had forgotten to bring my head torch. “Don’t worry about it, we’ll just get a move on” offered the epicure of epics, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we had around 4 hours of daylight to play with and the Fairfield Horseshoe is about 11 miles long! Oh well, what did I expect?
We parked up beside Rydal Hall and trudged up Nab Scar, weary and stiff after four hours sat in the car. In the west the view was obliterated by a stubborn cloud cap but everywhere north and east was bathed in golden light which was only going to get better. This realisation blew away any feelings of fatigue and instilled in us an excitement difficult to contain; for us two photographers that kind of light is an instant cure all so we blasted off over Heron Pike and Great Rigg past bemused looking walkers, reaching Fairfield’s stony dome two hours after leaving Rydal. There we remained for an hour, aware that precious time was being lost but unable to tear ourselves away and milking the golden hour for all its worth.
As the sun disappeared behind the cloud bank we scooted off over Hart Crag, slipping as we went on greasy boulders. On Dove crag we picked up the wall that becomes your companion on the southern arm of the horseshoe and serves as a useful guide in mist, or, as it happens, failing light!
The darkness has slowed us down on our descent but we figured that for two slightly unfit blokes five and a half hours up and down was pretty good going. What a day it had been, but it wasn’t quite over. Of course not, a four hour drive awaited us though not before a fish supper from the Old Smithy. All in all, quite mild for a day with the Dr.