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The Fairfield Horseshoe


16 km

Total Ascent



6 hrs



About the Hike

Exploring the Breathtaking Beauty of The Lake District: A Guide to Hiking the Fairfield Horseshoe

One of the most popular hiking trails in The Lake District is the Fairfield Horseshoe. This circular route offers a challenging yet rewarding experience, taking hikers on a journey through some of the most awe-inspiring vistas the region has to offer. The horseshoe-shaped trail covers a distance of approximately 16 km and includes several peaks, including Fairfield, Hart Crag, and Dove Crag.

If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download the GPX route from above straight into it. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction with.

As you embark on the Fairfield Horseshoe, you'll be treated to panoramic views of shimmering lakes, rolling hills, and majestic mountains. The trail meanders through verdant valleys, crosses babbling brooks, and ascends to lofty heights, providing a true immersion in the beauty of The Lake District. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a novice adventurer, the Fairfield Horseshoe offers a remarkable experience that will leave you in awe of the wonders of nature.

I started this Hike at Rydal Hall after spending the night at their fantastic campsite (See my review here if you fancy a 'nearly' wild camp). You can also pay to park for the day, which costs £10, where you get a £5 voucher to spend in the tea room, which I highly recommend after this hike. 

Turn right out of the Hall and take the easy-to-follow path up Nab Scar, where you can get breathtaking scenery over Rydal Water and Windermere and views across to The Langdales. It's pretty steep, but there are reasonable steps that lead the way, and the views make it more than worth it. Once up Nab Scar, there is a lovely area where you can sit and take in the views.

Heading towards Heron Pike seems less steep than getting up Nab Scar. The path is good, and there are cairns now and then, so you don't need to worry about getting lost. On a clear day, the view up here is sensational; honestly, you may not want to leave. 

You then go straight along Rydal Fell, which takes you to Great Rigg. If you want to tick off another Wainright, Stone Arthur, there is a clear path just before Great Rigg that will take you down to the summit; be warned, you'll have to walk back up, though. 

Moving on from Great Rigg, the last bit of significant elevation will get you to the summit of Fairfield, where you will have 360-degree views. This area is relatively flat, with several places, including an enclosed area where you can sit and have lunch.

Slightly going back on yourself, you head towards Hart Crag, where you do have to go down a bit before you head back up, but nothing too tricky after what you have already done. From here, the path, although still reasonably clear, does get rockier, so watch your step. 

High Pike and Low Pike are a bit more complicated due to their rockiness, but you can avoid the more significant drops on the path and go around them to get back on the main path. Don't let this put you off, as you can miss the more complex bits.

Once you are down the Pikes, the path turns into a farmer's track, which you can follow back to the Rydal Hall. 

I will rate this hike as moderate due to its length and ascent, but the tea room at the end makes it all worthwhile.


Embarking on the Fairfield Horseshoe is not just a hike; it's an opportunity to delve into the captivating beauty of The Lake District. The region's idyllic landscapes, diverse wildlife, and the sense of tranquillity it offers make it a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Hiking the Fairfield Horseshoe allows you to witness the grandeur of the mountains, the serenity of the lakes, and the majesty of the valleys all in one awe-inspiring journey.

So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and set off on an adventure that will take you through the heart of The Lake District. The Fairfield Horseshoe awaits, ready to unveil its breathtaking beauty and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

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Disclaimer: At the time of this walk, all the rights of way were open, and the terrain was easy to navigate; I followed all the rights of way as per the OS maps, but things can change. Please be aware that the weather/farmers, etc., can change things, and therefore, the route may not be as possible as it was for me. Please make your checks beforehand, including the weather. Please get in touch with me if any information that I have included has now changed.


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