A Low Pike - High Pike adventure in the snow with my daughter Steph.

December 05, 2016  •  2 Comments

Hi everyone,
This weekend its just my daughter and I heading to Ambleside for a change. On the well known Fairfield Horseshoe route that starts and ends in Ambleside, there are two fells that I personally havent yet done. I have visited all the other Fairfield Horseshoe peaks in various other trips, so wanted to tidy up my list by doing these two.


Today we visited 2 Wainwright Summits:

  • Low Pike. (1'667 ft)
  • High Pike. (2'152 ft)


Parking Location:

  • Rydal Road Car Park. Ambleside


Time & Distance Info

  • Distance walked: = 6.5 miles
  • Time Taken: = 6 hrs
  • Total Ascent: = 2'030 ft


Please Note:
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But that is the way I like to do it.


This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking clockwise from the bottom)


And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking clockwise from the bottom left)


Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)


We parked up on Rydal Road car park in Ambleside and headed out across the roundabout as if to go over that most famous of south lakes roads, "The Struggle". Then you turn first left and pretty much just follow the path. As soon as we turned we were greeted with a clue of what was to come...


Its a beautiful area. I havent really spent much time around this area of the lakes and its Stephs first time ever on this range.


We follow this easy path over Low Sweden bridge.


Looking over Rydal water with a great view stretching right back to the Langdales.


Scandale Beck houses a Hydropower Station that provides clean energy for nearly 600 homes. I love how well they manage to disguise these things in the lake district. No mean feat.


Onwards up Low Sweden Coppice.

Its not long before the first signs of snow appear. Complete with a snowman sentry on guard.

Onto High Sweden Coppice, looking back to Windermere.


As we get to Sweden Crag the fells are pretty much in full winter condition. We cant believe our luck!
Lovely soft, deep, beautiful snow!


What a day so far! But its hard going. We had both forgotten just how hard it is trudging through snow. Not too bad on the paths, but when we venture off, as you cant help but do... its hard work breaking fresh trail.


Low Pike ahead.


From Low Pike Summit we can now clearly see the path up to High Pike Summit.


And also right across to the far side of the valley. Our original plan was to go right up to Scandale Head and come back along Scandale Pass. But it wasnt to work out that way in the end.


We were surprised by a quite friendly Herdwick appearing from nowhere up here. Love these guys...


Steph had just taken a fall and was rubbing off all the snow. I took the opportunity to take a shot of the view back to Low Pike!


High Pike ahead... The snow is deep up here in places.


Knee deep in fact.


The views are truly incredible. Zooming in far ahead to Scandale Pass.

The view over to Red Screes.


The view down into the valley below us.

And one of my personal favourites of the day. A snap of Steph on the last pull up to High Pike. I love the snow being blown off the wall in the background. It sums up the weather quite well.

High Pike Summit. Looking over to Scandale Pass just left of centre, and Red Screes to the right. The cloud up there looks very low.


A pano of our intended route onwards.  The route takes us along the wall far left, into the cloud, then turns right before Dow Crag and follows the cloud to that depression in the ridgeline which is Scandale Pass. Then we were to turn right and drop down into the valley to follow it back.


Gorgeous... But not very inviting. Steph and I are tired and that isnt looking like the direction to be heading right now.

High Pike Summit, looking onwards to Dove Crag.


As we hang around drinking coffee it becomes clear that the cloud seems to be settling and getting thicker up along the pass at Dove Crag. We do some reckoning and figure that if we turn back here we save just under 2 miles and avoid the challenges of that thick cloud ahead.


We have both had a really great day and have neither the energy spare or the will to do anything to spoil it. We agree together to bail out back the way we came. I do a quick video before we bail out... The cloud ahead is a little clearer by video. There was actually full commentary to this, but the wind drownded out all but the start and end. Perhaps no bad thing.


We pass another chap heading up there as we turn back. I thought his bright red coat made a great contrast to the white of High Pike.

15 mins into our descent I look back and see the cloud seems to have lifted over Scandale. Typical...

Looking right, over to Heron Pike.


And left, to Red Screes.

I climbed on the wall to try and get a good shot of a lot of the Fairfield Round.
Yep - The cloud has gone now.

An alternative view with Great Rigg left, High Pike hiding Fairfield in teh middle, and Red Screes to the right.


What a place to be! Maybe we made the wrong decision to turn back. The weather now is somethimng dreams are made of. many people dont get to see the upper end of the Fairfield round in this condition, and maybe now, we never will again either. But I regret it only for a second.
As Ed Viesturs says is the mantra that served him so well in climbing all of the worlds 8'000+meter peaks...

"To reach the summit is optional. To get back down is mandatory"


When we reach Low Pike again, we spot a chap up there enjoying the view. He was up there quite some time so we left him to it and stopped down here for a coffee and another sandwich.  We like to leave people to their own thoughts on Summits. You never know what it means to them. We had our time on the way up.

Around this time I grabbed a secret selfie that Steph doesnt know she is in!


And another one that of course she does know she is in... As an aside, I cant see how that hat of hers full of holes can possibly be warm? Ha Ha.


Back down below Low Pike now. Just taking images for the sheer pleasure of it as we are in no rush to leave.


I took a panorama of the valley with Steph stood on both sides of the image. I quite like it. If anyone wonders how you do this. Using any device that can do a panorama (iPhone in this case) start the panorama and once the person is off the screen, have them run round behind you quickly and position themselves in the scene to your right. Simple... or at least it wold have been had we not been stood very close to an unknown bog!


The ground down here is VERY boggy. It would be easy to dissapear crotch deep in some places. A lot of care is required in this lower area of the valley as all the snow melt is saturating the ground. I had to laugh though at the size of the frame that has been put up here to hold this tiny sign. It says "Warning - Deep Bog" But its so small, you have to stand in the bog to read it!

I bet that bog there will catch someone out once its covered completely in snow.


Back down near Sweden Crag now.


I cant remember what Steph was laughing about here, but it sums the day up. I am never happier than when I am out on the fells with my family. I hope that when I am gone, after they have cursed me for a few weeks for making them scatter my ashes on some cold, wet fell (Location yet to be decided) That they will remember me for all the great adventures we had together.

Conversely, I hope to lie there in my final hours doing the same thing. Lets face it... who ever laid on their death bed looking back fondly on the day they stayed in and watched Television?


Wiping my eyes and moving on....
The view over to Rydal water. Loughrigg Fell to the left with a mere dusting of snow on it.


It was here we decided to detour and cross the river. I have heard of High Sweden Bridge but never seen it and it. Its renowned to be quite pictruresque and it seems from the map we can just walk over to it from here... So off we go.

And as soon as we found the path was paved we knew that the trip onwards would be easy. I guess this is a popular area.


Suddenly... Its busy! It wasnt possible to get a shot with no people in, so I gave up trying.

Nice bridge though... I know a few photographers who would like to spend an hour or two here.


The path takes us back through an area on the map called Rough Sides. Easy walking.


Looking down onto Ambleside as we descend... This is the last image I took.

Thanks for reading folks. I hope you enjoyed taking a little trip with us and that it inspired you to try the route.


Here is my Viewranger data.
VR members can sign in and view it on OS maps too. Feel free to scroll around, the map is active.


Finally, here is a 3D representation of the route created by Suunto Movescount.

Authors footnote. The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured. When it stops being fun, turn back and go home. Above all, remember the golden rules:

1) "Getting to the top is optional - Getting back down is mandatory"

2) "Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


Camera Details:
All images in this blog that don't state they were taken on my phone, were taken with my little pocket-sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worthy of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.


Route Completed on November 20th 2016 with Stephanie.

New Wainwrights: 2. New total: 158 of 214.
New Birketts: 2. New total 216 of 541.



Stewart Sanderson Photography
Thanks Val.
Val Kay-Dunn(non-registered)
A wonderful day out for you with lovely memories. Thanks for letting us tag along again.
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