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An Old Man and his friends - The Coniston Fells
by footix2 » Wed May 29, 2013 11:33 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man, Dow Crag, Great Carrs, Grey Friar, Swirl How
Hewitts included on this walk: Dow Crag, Grey Friar, Swirl How, The Old Man of Coniston
Date walked: 29/05/2013
Time taken: 6
Distance: 16 km
Ascent: 1158mRegister or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
A rare sunny weekend in Cumbria meant it was time for me to finally do a walk I had planned last October. I have walked almost exclusively in the North and West of the park, so it was time to break my duck in the Southern Fells.
An early start saw us heading for the Walna Scar road in the Duddon Valley via the rather enjoyable Birker Fell Road. The views from this road journey are as good as those from many felltops in the Lake District.
We were 1st to arrive at the small parking area on the Walna Scar road and were soon on our way up the very rough track. After a few hundred feet, the Walna Scar road starts to become a little easier underfoot. It's not a particularly steep path, but climbs relentlessly for quite a distance and perhaps 1500ft until it reaches the col between Brown Pike and Walna Scar. This was tough going given our early start (and a poor night's sleep).
We turned left and headed up Brown Pike, which has a nice little summit. The views open up suddenly when this summit is reached and it appear we could see the Isle of Man peeking over the incoming cloud banks on the Irish Sea (this might be Black Combe). We took a short break to recover from the trek up from the valley, then headed up Buck Pike and finally up to the rocky summit of Dow Crag.
The summit of Dow Crag is an impressive knuckle off rock, providing the briefest of scrambles to the very top of the fell. A small bowl on the top provides ample protection from any exposure from the fells huge crags.
A short while later we were on our way to Coniston Old Man, but some low-level cloud was blowing in off the sea and obscuring the views somewhat. We reached Old Man in slightly foggy conditions and with views somewhat obstructed we didn't linger too long, for fear of the crowds closing in.
Brim Fell was the next target and probably the least interesting of the Coniston fells. The wide path from Old Man had a ridiculous number of large cairns on it, considering the path was probably visible from space given it's impressive size. This section was the foggiest part of the walk and give a slightly airy feel to the "ridge". The summit was reached in next to no time and left almost as quickly.
A longer section was ahead of us now as we headed for Swirl How. This was the most sustained ascent, since we reached the top of Walna Scar road and was rather rocky and uneven underfoot. The path was sketchy but we aimed for small rockstep (avoidable) and once through, the summit cairn was just a short walk further. The views from Swirl How are pretty good in all directions, but we were in the zone and Great Carrs was only a short walk further, so we took our photos and moved on again.
We had forgotten about the plane crash site on Great Carrs and literally didn't see it until we were almost on top of it. We stopped to have a look at the memorial and then made or way to the summit.
The final fell of the day was Grey Friars. We took a straight line to the col and stopped for lunch with a vista of some great fells to accompany us, though the views was a little hazy.
Grey Friar looked formidable from where we had our lunch, but in fact the summit was gained with little effort and is big enough to hold a football match. The summit obvious from the moment you gain the plateau.
While we were taking our summit photos I was recognised by a Walking Forum member - Glyno. We passed pleasantries much to the bemusement of my walking partner (who wasn't sure what was happening) and then we headed off for Seathwaite Tarn. The path down of Grey Friars is fairly easy to follow, but does peter out. This end of the fell is fairly grassy and really you can just aim for the reservoir. Wainwright was too keen on Grey Friars in mist for some reason. I can't think why, it doesn't seem that bad to me.
All that was left was to cross the bridge at the reservoir, walk across the dam, then follow the road back to the gate at Walna Scar Road.
Some photos of the day
Start of the Walna Scar road
Very rough start to the walk
Top of Walna Scar Road - looking north
Coniston from Brown Pike
Next stop Buck Pike
Looking back. Isle Of Man (?) peeping over a sea of cloud covering the Irish Sea. It could be Black Combe though!
Dow Crag seen from Buck Pike
A look back along the ridge
I think this is the top of Easy Gully
A somewhat foggy view of Old Man
Dow Crag summit
Dow Crag from Goat's Hause
Final ascent of Coniston Old Man
Coniston Old Man summit
Getting a bit foggy on COM
Literally no need for these cairns
Brim Fell summit
Swirl How, shrouded slightly in cloud
Approaching Swirl How
Seathwaite Tarn comes into view
Still ascending Swirl How
Rock formation on Swirl How
The summit approaches
No idea what any of these fells are!
Great Carrs from Swirl How
Swirl How from Great Carrs
The 1944 crash site on Great Carrs
Great Carrs summit
Our lunch stop. The giants such as Scafell Pike etc are near the centre.
Grey Friar summit with Glyno arriving just out of shot.
Descending to Seathwaite Tarn
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