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Coniston Fells

Coniston Fells

Postby MiniRambo » Sat May 24, 2014 10:18 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man, Dow Crag, Great Carrs, Grey Friar, Swirl How, Wetherlam

Hewitts included on this walk: Dow Crag, Grey Friar, Swirl How, The Old Man of Coniston, Wetherlam

Date walked: 17/05/2014

Time taken: 7.15

Distance: 20.6 km

Ascent: 1376m

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I walked these hills with Chris and Andrew.

We had planned a trip to Bridge of Orchy to climb Beinn Dorain, however the weather forecast for that area wasn't promising (and turned out to be correct from some other walk reports posted) so we decided to tackle the Coniston Fells.

We arrived at the fell gate along the Walna Scar Road about a mile or so out of Coniston at about 7.50am. Started to walk at 8am (forgot to start my GPS for the first few hundred metres, dooh!!). The weather was set fair but there was a decided nip in the air and Andrew wore my gloves for the first few miles until the sun began to lift the temperature.

Just away from the car at the 'fell gate'.

We followed the Walna Scar Road in a westerly direction taking us to the south of The Old Man of Coniston. It is a very good path with a relatively gentle gradient until the slopes of Brown Pike where it steepened until we reached the low point between Brown Pike and Walna Scar.

Stopping for a breather near Goatfoot Crags

Andrew trying out a shelter - 'compact and bijou Rodney!'

We made a minor detour from the planned route to wander onto Walna Scar and take in the views over the Duddon Valley and beyond to the west coast. It was also the first time we set eyes on the Scafell range to the north west.

On Walna Scar, Brown Pike and the ridge to Dow Crag behind.

The Scarfell range

We then dropped down and picked up our route again. First taking in the top of Brown Pike and then along a broad but fascinating ridge that would lead us over Buck Pike and onwards to Dow Crag. Views were good in all directions but especially east to The Old Man of Coniston; first over the the small 'Blind Tarn' and then as we progressed, over the larger 'Goat's Water'.

On the ridge to Dow Crag

The crags of Dow Crag are interspersed with gullies. A liitle way along the ridge we spotted a gully that had a steep path leading down it to an interesting feature with a chock stone forming a natural 'window'. We decided to have a closer look. I must admit that I was uncomfortable with the exposure so didn't hang around too long. Once back on the ridge I reached to put my pack on again. As I was in the process on reaching down, I heard Chris shout out 'that hurt, I saw stars!'. I looked at him and asked what he had done, but before he could answer, I could see for myself as blood began to flow down his forehead. It transpired that as he clambered up the 'path' he had stepped into an overhanging rock and given himself a nasty cut on the top of his head. Keep calm, I thought, but it was time to make use of the emergency medical kit I have been lugging about for the last 7 years. Andrew plastered the wound with germolene and then Chris applied pressure with 3 tissues. I then held them in place with a bandage wrapped around his head and under his chin (he looked like something out of 'Carry on Doctor'). Luckily he has a hard head and doubly luckily there was no one else around as he was a little embarassed about wearing that garb! Before we reached the summit of Dow Crag, the bandage had worked its way free but thankfully the flow of blood had been stemmed (although it would weep for the rest of the walk and he would attend A&E to get it glued later that day). Looking back, the only thing I did wrong was not to take a photo for posterity!! :lol: :lol:

The gully with the 'window'. Coniston Water in the distance.

Inspecting the view through the window before the accident.

Another gully with view to Goat's Water

Anyway, Dow Crag is a terrific hill with a pointy/rocky summit and good all round views. We could see much of our route north. However, our next task was to drop down in an easterly direction to Goats's Hawse before climbing south easterly to the top of The Old Man of Coniston. It was here that we began to meet other walkers and we would see more and more as the day proceeded.

From Dow Crag to The Old Man of Coniston

From Dow Crag looking back along the ridge

Dow Crag from the lower slopes of The Old Man of Coniston

The summit of The Old Man of Coniston looking north

From The Old Man of Coniston we walked north for over 2km on a very broad path, firstly over the minor rise of Brim Fell before a gradual drop to Levers Hawse and then a short pull to the top of Little How Crags which has a great vantage point overlooking Levers Water.

Descending towards Levers Hawse with Swirl How in the distance

Looking south west to Seathwaite Tarm

Looking south east to Levers Water

Although we could have 'cut the corner' and traversed the slopes of Swirl How to get to Grey Friar, instead, we carried on along the ridge to Swirl How itself where the ridge comes to an abrupt halt! The sun was still shining brightly, however there was a distinct chill from the breeze. We didn't stay too long before heading west and picking up the path that would lead us to the summit of Grey Friar, our 5th Wainwright today.

From Swirl How looking to Great Carrs

Heading to Grey Friar

On Grey Friar

We took shelter from the breeze just away from the summit on the northern slopes of Grey Friar with lovely views to Cold Pike and Pike of Blisco. Having replenished we set off again back along the same path but this time heading to Great Carrs which is just around the corner from Swirl How. We stopped at the cairn and read the memorial to the 2nd World War airmen who were killed when their plane crashed near the summit.

The memorial on Great Carrs

From Great Carrs to Swirl How

Then back to Swirl How and before dropping down steeply east then north east along the Prison Band. We overtook a man and his collie dog and met a number of other family groups, couples and lone walkers and several other dogs too before reaching the bottom of the ridge at Swirl Hawse.

From Swirl How to Wetherlam

Our last summit, Wetherlam was now in reach. However, I think I must have hit the proverbial 'wall' as my legs were heavy and I had little energy - probably a combination of the exersion of the walk, having only recently eaten and the sun, which had probably dehydrated me more than I thought. I got my head down and kept moving forward as best I could, not wanting to be re-overtaken by the man and his collie. We stopped for a while on Wetherlam, soaking up the views and taking on fluid and sweets. Unfortunately, the collie was sniffing around for food (his owner was ignorant of it) and was becoming a bit of a pain! We finally had to move on when it became a bit amourous too!!

Wetherlam summit before the dog incident!?!

So, all down hill from here then? No, unfortunately not! The south ridge of Wetherlam eventually picks up a miner's track that leads down to inhabitation. However, we could see that we would need to climb up to Crowberry Hawse in order to gain the path that would take us back to the car. Thankfully, the dry weather meant the two becks (Red Dell Beck and Levers Water Beck) were both crossable (well, we crossed them but got our feet/legs wet as the stones were slippery) so we took a direct route to a stile and then a steep climb through emerging bracken fronds to regain a good, steepish path to Crowberry Hawse. This path was sheltered from the wind and the temperature was picking up but eventually we reached the high point, skirted between Stubthwaite Crag and The Bell and headed gently back to the car.

On the south ridge of Wetherlam

It had been a really good day and a most enjoyable walk.
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Re: Coniston Fells

Postby joethecollie » Fri May 30, 2014 12:44 pm

I did the same walk (from the village - without cheating and walking up the road) on the same day. Started from the village at ~8:00am. Although I didn't think hill walking was a competion, Why didn't you want to be overtaken by the man and his collie, were you in a time trail?
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Re: Coniston Fells

Postby The English Alpinist » Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:03 pm

It's a big walk to get all 7 done in one go, so well done. Fascinating to see these fells all green and in season, as I'm tackling them at the moment in the depths of winter! I took one of two of the exact same photos as you - Dow Crag from Goats Hause, and ''another gully' as you put it. How different (yet the same) they look in the snow.
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Re: Coniston Fells

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jan 25, 2016 5:49 am

Hey MR, I missed this first time around, glad it came back :D It's great to see the blue skies and wonderful colours of the hills in the summer...kind of leaves me longing for some of that right about now :lol: Shame about the head gash but at least it wasn't serious and allows a tale to be told and retold in the pub :wink:
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