Sunday 15 April 2012

The Deepdale Horseshoe

Distance: 15.5km; Ascent: 1140m; Occasional sunshine, cold & windy; Solo

It had been several months since I was last in the Lake District, so I decided it was time for my first trip there this year.  I had been thinking about walking the Deepdale Horseshoe for a while and so shortly after 9:30am I set off walking from Patterdale in the warm sunshine.  I ascended up past Oxford Crag to reach my first summit of the day: Arnison Crag (Wainwright, Birkett), with excellent views back down to Ullswater.

Summit cairn of Arnison Crag
I followed a narrow path across the undulating ground to the SW to reach Trough Head, from where I began my ascent of Birks.  By now it was quite cold and windy, so I stopped part-way up to don an extra layer and my leggings.  Shortly after 11am I reached the summit of Birks (Nuttall, Wainwright, Birkett), which was marked by a small cairn and an intriguing small lump mounted on one of the rocks by the cairn; apparently this is to do with the OS and it is a type of trigpoint.

OS bolt on Birks
I followed the flattish ground to the SW before beginning my ascent of St Sunday Crag.  At the obvious path junction, I forked round to the left to reach the subsidiary summit of Gavel Pike (Birkett) from where there were excellent views into Deepdale and across to Hart Crag and Fairfield.

Hart Crag and Fairfield above upper Deepdale
By now I was ready for lunch, so I found a nice sheltered spot between Gavel Pike and St Sunday Crag, just off the ridge but with excellent views into Deepdale.  After lunch, I crossed a few small snow patches and soon reached the summit of St Sunday Crag (Marilyn, Nuttall, Wainwright, Birkett).

St Sunday Crag from the SW
I descended down the easy ridge, with occasional jogging, to reach Deepdale Hause.  I took a direct line up the north ridge of Fairfield, with occasional scrambling, to reach the small subsidiary summit of Cofa Pike (Birkett).  Again there were excellent views down to Grisedale Tarn and across to many of the surrounding hills, including the Helvellyn range to the north.

Seat Sandal and Grisedale Tarn
Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn from N ridge of Fairfield
It was strangely sheltered from the wind as I continued up the north ridge of Fairfield (Marilyn, Nuttall, Wainwright, Birkett) to reach the summit, where the wind reappeared with a vengeance!  The summit was busy, so I only lingered long enough to admire the views before heading onto Hart Crag, where I found a nice sunny spot out of the wind to rest with views towards Windermere.

Summit of Hart Crag
From the summit cairn of Hart Crag (Nuttall, Wainwright, Birkett), I descended to the north west towards the ridge of Hartsop above How.  On several previous occasions, I had looked down to the ridge from here and concluded that it looked like a nice way up or down the hill so I was quite excited to actually be about to walk it!

Looking down the ridge of Hartsop above How from Hart Crag
From the top of the ridge there were excellent views along the ridge and beyond to the hills to the north of High Street.  The first section of the ridge was quite steep and I choose a direct line down the rocky sections with some easy sections of scrambling to descend. Once the rocky section was over, I jogged down some of the easy grassy ridge as I needed to get some practise in for the Saunders later this year!

On summit of Hartsop above How
Soon I reached the little rocky outcrop that marked the summit of Hartsop above How (Wainwright, Birkett).  I was now out of the wind again and it was beginning to feel quite warm, so gloves and hat were no longer necessary!  I continued down the pleasant ridge to reach the little summit of Gale Crag (Birkett), before continuing down, with occasional jogging, to reach the woods of Deepdale Park where the trees were pleasantly green with new leaves.

New leaves on the trees in Deepdale Park
After passing through the woods and crossing a field, I met the A592.  I followed the road northwards back towards Patterdale, with the pavement crossing between sides of the road every few hundred metres.  I passed the youth hostel, where I stayed on my very first hill walking trip to the Lake District some 12.5 years ago, and soon reach the post office where I bought some very nice caramel shortbread.  I got back to the car at approx 3:30pm after an excellent 6 hours of Lakeland walking just as a shower started, which was good timing!


  1. A cracking little walk that.
    We used to stay at Caudalebeck Farm, take the kids for a big old hike round there, or maybe the odd wild camp. Then when we got back go for a swim in Brothers Water. (It was early July).
    High Hartsop Dodd and up to Little Hart Crag and back from the farm was a superb evening run.
    Did you go to the hermits cave up near Hart Crag?

    1. Yes it is a cracking little walk, and surprising quiet too away from Fairfield and Hart Crag! Although given it was only 6°C when I got back down to the valley, I'm glad I passed on a swim in Brothers Water!

      Are you talking about the Priest's Hole? I've never been there myself but I have heard of it. Have you ever been there?

    2. That's the one.
      Yes, we took our mob there back in 2007.
      Didn't try and sleep in it though, just a lunch stop.
      Shame I did my knee on that holiday, running down hill, but never mind.

    3. Does it look like a comfortable place to spend the night then?

    4. Depends how many.
      I think Lucy has slept in it.

      Not ours but there are some pictures here

  2. Looks like you had a good day for it there. I love Grisedale Tarn!

    1. It was indeed an excellent day. Grisedale Tarn does indeed look good and also potentially a nice wild camp spot for a future backpack!

  3. I think you picked the best weather for it. We are off up to the Lakes for a jaunt on Friday & Saturday. The forecast looks horrible...

    We are going to get very wet...
    Ho hum - good practice for the Chally then.

    1. I too plan to be away this weekend, either in the Highlands or the Lakes depending upon various things! And the weather doesn't look to be good for either of them :(

      Hope you don't get too wet at the weekend, but as you say it will be good practice for next month anyway ;)

  4. A very pleasant circuit, Alistair. I'm sorry I couldn't join you.