Close encounter with an Old Man
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:14 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man, Dow Crag
Hewitts included on this walk: Dow Crag, The Old Man of Coniston
Date walked: 14/01/20175 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Under a clear, frosty dawn, the Walna Scar road leading up onto the fells from Coniston village was a skating-rink, and the upper part leading to the top car park was lethal. The driver in our party ended up with the tricky task of reversing the car back down the ice, threading a narrow way through stone walls and parked cars to a spot half-way up the road where we could start the walk.
In compensation, we had some gorgeously-lit early-morning views of the fells as we gingerly made out way up the icy road. There was a succession of picture-postcard views of the various Coniston Fells - firstly, Wetherlam above the Coppermines valley, seen from where we parked the car.
IMG_3195 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Then, Swirl How.
IMG_3194 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Another view of Swirl How, this time from near the gate leading into the top car park.
IMG_3208 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
From the nearly-empty car park , there was a completely different view of Wetherlam.
IMG_3215 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We set off along the track over the open moor, with the slopes of the Old Man rising above us on the right. Coniston is Lancashire's answer to Roswell - we were walking where a UFO was reported and photographed in 1954 - Britain's first such incident -
"Stephen Darbishire, the 13 year old son of a local resident, and Adrian Meyer, his eight year old cousin went for a walk to a place overlooking the Old Man of Coniston mountain taking with them a period Kodak box camera. Stephen claims he felt an unusual urge to keep climbing the hill. Adrian apparently noticed the UFO first and pointed it out to Stephen who took two, slightly out of focus, photographs... within days the boys found themselves at the centre of a media storm. The UFO phenomena had arrived in Britain... Overwhelmed by the intensity of events, Stephen later announced that it was all a hoax but was then accused of being part of a government cover up. The media frenzy eventually passed and Stephen went one to have a very successful career as an artist. He is reputedly no longer interested in discussing the subject." http://britainexplorer.com/top-ten-ufo-sightings-uk/
The objects looming mysteriously in the sky above us were Buck Pike and Dow Crag.
IMG_3231 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Heading towards Brown Pike.
IMG_3236 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The snakelike Walna Scar track gains height gradually. Looking back over "the long and winding road".
IMG_3237 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Once at the summit of the pass, views widened considerably to include a fair slice of Britain's nuclear industry - Heysham to the south-east and Sellafield in the west (not illustrated).
We began to ascend Brown Pike - this is the view back over Walna Scar. White Maiden is on the left, and White Pike (looking white) and Caw (looking black) appear below the cloud-capped Black Combe.
IMG_3243 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Beyond the summit of Brown Pike we got a bird's eye view of Blind Tarn, with Coniston Water in the distance. The Howgills, Whernside and Ingleborough form the skyline.
IMG_3276 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Buck Pike, Brim Fell and Coniston Old Man from Brown Pike.
IMG_3270 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Blind Tarn from the ridge between Brown Pike and Buck Pike. The tarn is so named because it has no stream flowing from it. I guess that the water seeps out through the moraine which is its natural dam - a geology-textbook example of a circular cwm or corrie lake. Wikipedia says "the tarn has a respectable population of trout. Whilst other theories are possible, it must be assumed they have been introduced for sport." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dow_Crag)
IMG_3279 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Brown Pike from Buck Pike. Neither of these two fine summits is given a chapter by Wainwright, which seems a bit unfair. I think is possibly due to the fact that The Southern Fells volume of his series was already bulky in relation to others and he had this OCD idea that all the volumes should be about the same size. In other areas, such as the Northern Fells, flattened hummocks such as Mungrisedale Common get whole chapters to the themselves.
His decision to cut the Southern Fells region off at Walna Scar also seems a bit arbitrary, given that White Maiden, Caw and Stickle Pike are all finer and more typically Lakeland hills than, for example Binsey or the Mell Fells.
IMG_3280 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
(NB for those readers who are disappointed by the lack of nuclear power plant images in this TR so far, note that if you go onto Flickr and click on the little magnifying plus sign on this photo, you can see the Heysham reactors, more or less in the centre of the skyline).
As we went along the lofty path, views down the east side of the ridge towards Coniston Water became increasingly dramatic.
IMG_3298 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
However, my favourite view was straight ahead. The cairn on Scafell Pike can just be seen.
IMG_3299 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
A natural arch among the crags.
IMG_3302 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Goat's Water and the Old Man.
IMG_3297 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We peered down the biggest of the Dow Crag gullies. The outflow of Goat's Water can be seen at the bottom.
IMG_3306 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Another view of the gully.
IMG_3307 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
It is a scramble to reach the highest point of Dow Crag. This is looking back down the scrambly rocks and the Brown Pike ridge from the summit. One website states "Wainwright thought this to be one of the best summits in the Lake District and it certainly rates as one of the best in the UK requiring 'hands on rock' to gain the true top." (http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk/walk-3110-description).
IMG_3322 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The highest point of Dow Crag is poised over the edge of the precipice.
IMG_3309 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking north-east from the summit towards Swirl How and Brim Fell.
IMG_3324 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
My favourite photo of the day - the majestic view of the Scafells from the top of the highest rock of Dow Crag.
IMG_3328 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We descended to Goat's Hause (or Hawse). The wind whistled through the Hause, raising clouds of powdery snow.
IMG_3354 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
After crossing the Hause, we looked back towards Goat's Water and Dow Crag. I was aware that it Dow Crag is the second biggest crag in the Lake District (after Scafell Crag) but didn't realise that it's been described as "probably the best crag in the Lakes" (http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=355#feedback)
IMG_3364 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
We then took a contouring path which rises gradually across the western side of Brim Fell, giving nice views down this less-known side of the Coniston range to Seathwaite Tarn and Harter Fell.
IMG_3370 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
At Levers Hause we turned south to ascend Brim Fell. This is Grey Friar from the northern slopes of Brim Fell.
IMG_3372 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The flanks of Brim Fell gave us some new views - down to Levers Water in its deep hollow, and beyond towards the south-eastern Lake District fells.
IMG_3373 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Brim Fell summit cairn, with the Duddon estuary and its windfarm in the distance.
IMG_3395 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Leaving the summit of Brim Fell, with Dow Crag in line with Black Combe in the distance.
IMG_3413 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The Old Man from the south-west edge of Brim Fell's summit plateau.
IMG_3424 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Taken from the same spot, this is my companions on the steady path leading up the last rise towards the Old Man.
IMG_3431 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The summit cairn and mountain puja - a sacred offering of Kendal Mint Cake.
IMG_3464 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
The summit trig and the view northwards. The skyline left to right is Esk Pike, Crinkle Crags' Long Top, Bowfell, Glaramara, Skiddaw in the clouds above Great Carrs, Swirl How, Lonscale Pike, High Raise and the rocky lumps of Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark and Sergeant Man below Blencathra.
IMG_3467 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking back along the summit ridge to the Scafells.
IMG_3473 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Starting the descent. The temperature took a chilly plunge once we were in the shadows.
IMG_3483 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Looking over Low Water to the still-sunlit upper parts of the Coniston Fells. In the distance are Helvellyn (cloud on top) and the Fairfield Horseshoe.
IMG_3484 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Late afternoon glow over Ambleside, Wansfell and the Far Eastern Fells.
IMG_3485 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
Down through the quarries. As always on the Old Man, it was great to see children, dogs and a whole variety of people getting out in the winter sunshine and enjoying this popular mountain. The highest peak in Old Lancashire has a big fan club!
IMG_3487 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr
This last photo is not by me but by Beery Hiker. I've taken the liberty of including it because a very necessary part of our trip research was to carry out a full survey of the range of beers on offer at the Black Bull. After a long day on the fells, it was challenging and thirsty work.
20170114_194505 by bodach_liath, on Flickr
by Beery Hiker » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:10 pm
by ChrisW » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:38 pm
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:30 am
ChrisW wrote:Wow, cracking pics HMHT, I would have made a post too given that selection of pics Love the UFO story, that image looked so fake it's hilarious, funny how people actually 'bought it' back in the day
Cheers ChrisW! Yes the UFO story is funny, it was I think the first example in the UK of the UFO fears that had been around for some time in the States, e.g. Orson Welles' radio reading in 1938 - although apparently the supposed hysteria was greatly exaggerated! - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/radio/what-to-listen-to/the-war-of-the-worlds-panic-was-a-myth/
by great_gable » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:13 am
by jacob » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:29 pm
Walkhighlands community forum is advert free
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?