Fairfield and St Sunday Crag, 27th May 2015

  1. 10 miles

  2. 1000 metres ascent

  3. 5 hours 45 minutes

  4. View the route on plotaroute.com

I think this was a first time walking along Deepdale and certainly a first time viewing and climbing Fairfield from this direction. The coves (they’d be cwms in Snowdonia) of Link Cove and Houndshope Cove and the great north-east faces of Fairfield, Hart Crag and Dove Crag are a great reason to come this way and reminded me of the cwms of the Glyders. Also I’d often looked at Greenhow End and wondered about ways up it and my walk book described a scrambly route up.

Bluebells in the woods near the car park

I started from the car park at Cow Bridge, just north of Brotherswater and walked up the road to pick up the route at Deepdale Bridge then straightforward walking along the valley. The first navigation choice was when to cross the beck and start working my way up to Greenhow End. The book described this as after a glacial moraine and when there are two parallel streams to the left of the path. Moraines in this country aren’t quite the same as those in Switzerland but fairly obvious if you’re looking for them. Also I knew the route went fairly close under the front of Mart Crag. I found the two parallel streams, crossed over, and started up the pathless slopes towards Greenhow End. The front (north-east) face doesn’t look promising – steep, damp, vegetated. I kept going until I was on the lip of Link Cove and looking into it. Then the crags became cleaner, less steep and much more inviting to scramble on.

Looking up Deepdale from near the start.

The ridge of Hartsop above How, looking south-east from half way up Greenhow End.

I could see the grass rake described in the book but the direct route straight up the easy rocks looked much nicer. This gave probably about a hundred metres of moderate scrambling on rough rock with small holds, probably grade I to II, straight up until you reach the ridge leading to the (usually) busy Fairfield horseshoe path, a fairly obvious path marked by lots of cairns.

Part of the north east face of Fairfield seen from the top of Greenhow End.

Turn right to reach Fairfield summit, featureless apart from three cairns/shelters. By now the cloud had come down (and was very cold, typical May bank holiday weather) and I couldn’t see the onward route to Cofa Pike. I was worried about finding this. From the map it looked like it might be a vague path down steep slopes with crags on either side with the risk of taking the wrong line and ending up on tricky ground but in fact as long as you head north you would struggle to miss it and Cofa Pike is right there in front of you.

Cofa Pike from Fairfield. The jumble of rocks half way can be taken direct very easily and the crest of the ridge followed.

Deepdale Hause and the ridge between Cofa Pike and St Sunday Crag (just off picture in the clouds top right) with Grisedale on its left

This is described in my book as a “devil’s tooth” and I’d agree with the tooth part, though I’m not sure where the devil’s part comes in. The path suggests going round it but actually I’d say it’s best to attack it straight on, sticking right to the crest. It’s much easier than it looks. Stick to the top of the ridge all the way down to Deepdale Hause and it’s a pleasant scrambly steep path (though the initial part from Fairfield summit is unpleasantly loose).

Deepdale from Deepdale Hause looking east. The crag on the right of the picture is the west face of Greenhow End (the opposite side to the route of ascent)

From Deepdale Hause, looking at Greenhow End (nearest) and Hart Crag and Dove Crag (furthest)

Looking east from Deepdale Hause

Looking east from Deepdale Hause

Next summit is St. Sunday Crag. I was out of the clouds now so had better views. Few people about, despite being bank holiday week. The route down has good views of Ullswater and eventually lots of bluebells. It was trying to rain as I got near the valley and I sheltered under a tree hoping in vain that it would pass. It turned out to be the start of constant heavy rain (lasting all evening) so I took the quick route back to the car, along the road from Patterdale.

At the base of the path up to St Sunday Crag at the entrance to Grisedale looking north.

Ullswater from the start of the ascent path to St Sunday Crag (which I have just descended)