If you haven’t got enough time (or energy!) for the full 10.5-mile, 6-7 hour classic round, try these quicker alternatives from Ambleside
Red Screes Horseshoe
This slightly shorter walk also serves as a way to extend the horseshoe, if the main round’s 10 miles doesn’t give you a big enough helping of hill. On its own, it makes a nice alternative loop, albeit a less tidy one than Fairfield’s. Go up from Ambleside to High Sweden Bridge as per the main route. From here, climb up the side of the ridge to join the horseshoe’s eastern ridge as shown, bagging Low Pike and High Pike but breaking away from the Fairfi eld Horseshoe by turning east at the summit of Dove Crag, descending to Scandale Pass (or, to cut out this ridge, Scandale Pass can be accessed directly from High Sweden Bridge, by continuing up the path which runs parallel with Scandale Beck.) From here climb Red Screes and enjoy the views over Patterdale and the eastern ridges of Fairfield before descending to Ambleside.
“Everybody likes Loughrigg,” wrote Alfred Wainwight. A defiantly ungraceful, rocky lump right next to Ambleside, Loughrigg is nothing to do with the Fairfield Horseshoe, but it does give great views over it – as well as over Windermere, Langdale and the Grasmere Valley, which radiate away from it like scenic tentacles. A diminutive hill at 335m (1101 ft ), Loughrigg is nevertheless a true individual, packing more character into its small size than some mountains three times the height. It’s skirted by four beautiful bodies of water, including the painfully pretty Loughrigg Tarn, and has had immense caves bored into its flank – the legacy of slate mining. A walk around it makes a great evening or morning stroll. Just don’t expect to be alone; Loughrigg is a popular hill, as the maze of paths criss-crossing its top attest.
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Photo by Ronald Turnbull