Fairfield Via Alcock Tarn

Keeping my eye on the weather forecast, a Tuesday in early June looked promising so I decided to get out for a walk. I had an idea for a circular route based on the train, but a cancellation by the ever dependable (not!) Northern Rail put the end to that option. So, I reverted to driving up to the Lakes and decided to park up in Grasmere and see where I ended up. It was bright and sunny when I arrived so I booted up and headed towards the fells to the east of the village. I decided to walk up to the Fairfield ridge via Alcock Tarn. I’d only been up to this small man made tarn up on the hillside once before so I thought it was time to give it another go. My first walk up there, just before the first lockdown, was up the path to the north of the tarn, so this time I thought I’d take the alternative southern route that passed Dove Cottage before ascending through woods on the fell side.

Dove Cottage

It was a steep climb and views over the valley below over to the high fells in the west soon opened up.

Part way up the hill I passed through the gate – the tarn, and much of the surrounding fell, was bought by the National Trust in the 1940s.

I carried on up the hill, occasionally stopping to look back at the view, and eventually reached my first objective where I stopped for a break and a bite to eat. The tarn, which sits on a shelf on the side of Heron Crag, is about 1000 feet above Grasmere and was originally a small natural pool known as Butter Crags Tarn. It was purchased during the 19th century by a Mr Alcock who lived in Hollins, a grand house on the edge of the village the valley below (it’s now used as the Regional HQ for the National Trust), who enlarged it with a dam and stocked it with trout.

The edge of the tarn was swaring with tadpoles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many!

After a short break it was time to set off up the fell side along a clear path up towards Nab scar that isn’t shown on the OS map.

Looking back down on the tarn

The view back down to Grasmere and over to the Coniston Fells

I reached the ridge at the top of Nab Scar. Looking south I had a good view over Windermere

but my route was in the opposite direction, over to Heron Pike then Great Rigg and the summit of Fairfield. There were a few other walkers about, many of them tackling the Fairfield Horseshoe, but that wasn’t my intention.

After tackling the first two peaks I arrived on the stony summit of Fairfield

Looking over to Coffa Pike and St Sunday Crag

and over to Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn

The view over to the Western Fells

and over to Windermere

I stopped for a while chatting to another solo walker who was tackling the horseshoe and then retraced my tracks back to Great Rigg

I’d decided to descend via Stone Arthur so reaching Great Rigg I left the main ridge and took the path down the slope towards the rocky outcrops that look down on Grasmere village.

Looking to my right as I descended
Stone Arthur ahead

I passed a small group of walkers and then reached my objective where I stopped to enjoy the views down to the valley and over to the western fells.

I made my way down the path back to the village. Having been up this way a couple of times previously I knew it was a steep path and it was tough on the old knees as I descended, so I was glad to get down to level ground. I had a quick mooch round the village buying myself a cold drink from the Co-op which I drank siting on a bench on the village green. It was then time to return to the car and set off back home. The joys of the M6 to come!

10 thoughts on “Fairfield Via Alcock Tarn

  1. We like the walk up to Alcock,, though haven’t done Fairfield that way – couple of times via Stone Arthur.

  2. Glorious weather, glorious views. Both my circuits of the Horseshore were anti-clockwise, the first by luck and the second deliberately, because of that overpowering westwards vista on the descent by Great Rigg etc. What’s that arm like as an ascent, once you’re on the ridge? Looking back up, it looks fearsomely tedious. Between that and the view being behind, I’ve never wanted to go up that way, but I suppose if you’re returning the same way it’s not so bad.

    • I like the view that opens down Rydale and across to the Helvellyn ridge during the walk from Great Rigg to Fairfield. But it’s down to personal taste, of course 🙂

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