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Close encounter with an Old Man

Close encounter with an Old Man


Postby 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: 14/01/2017

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[Note to readers: this walk is also covered by Beery Hiker at https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=69349. I've added my own perspective on this day - partly for anyone wants to read a different account, but mostly for the selfish reason that this is my own record, for me to read when I get too old and confused to remember what I've done! (Some would say I'm there already...)]

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.

ImageIMG_3195 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Then, Swirl How.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3208 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

From the nearly-empty car park , there was a completely different view of Wetherlam.

ImageIMG_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 -

f-ufo-darbishire-photo.jpg


"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.

ImageIMG_3231 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Heading towards Brown Pike.

ImageIMG_3236 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The snakelike Walna Scar track gains height gradually. Looking back over "the long and winding road".

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3276 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Buck Pike, Brim Fell and Coniston Old Man from Brown Pike.

ImageIMG_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)

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3298 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

However, my favourite view was straight ahead. The cairn on Scafell Pike can just be seen.

ImageIMG_3299 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

A natural arch among the crags.

ImageIMG_3302 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Goat's Water and the Old Man.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3306 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Another view of the gully.

ImageIMG_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).

ImageIMG_3322 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The highest point of Dow Crag is poised over the edge of the precipice.

ImageIMG_3309 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Looking north-east from the summit towards Swirl How and Brim Fell.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_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)

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3373 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Brim Fell summit cairn, with the Duddon estuary and its windfarm in the distance.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3413 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The Old Man from the south-west edge of Brim Fell's summit plateau.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3431 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

The summit cairn and mountain puja - a sacred offering of Kendal Mint Cake.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3467 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Looking back along the summit ridge to the Scafells.

ImageIMG_3473 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Starting the descent. The temperature took a chilly plunge once we were in the shadows.

ImageIMG_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.

ImageIMG_3484 by Half Man Half Titanium, on Flickr

Late afternoon glow over Ambleside, Wansfell and the Far Eastern Fells.

ImageIMG_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!

ImageIMG_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.

Image20170114_194505 by bodach_liath, on Flickr


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HalfManHalfTitanium
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 803
Munros:95   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Close encounter with an Old Man

Postby Beery Hiker » Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:10 pm

Thanks - more great photos!
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Beery Hiker
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Re: Close encounter with an Old Man

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jan 24, 2017 11:38 pm

Wow, cracking pics HMHT, I would have made a post too given that selection of pics :clap: :clap: Love the UFO story, that image looked so fake it's hilarious, funny how people actually 'bought it' back in the day :lol: :lol:
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Re: Close encounter with an Old Man

Postby 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 :clap: :clap: Love the UFO story, that image looked so fake it's hilarious, funny how people actually 'bought it' back in the day :lol: :lol:


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/
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HalfManHalfTitanium
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Posts: 803
Munros:95   Corbetts:10
Grahams:2   Donalds:1
Hewitts:148
Wainwrights:103   
Joined: Mar 11, 2015

Re: Close encounter with an Old Man

Postby great_gable » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:13 am

some good photos, thanks for posting, liked the UFO bit too
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Re: Close encounter with an Old Man

Postby jacob » Wed Feb 08, 2017 7:29 pm

Excellent photos. I love the effect of the illusion of black and white on the snowy parts contrasting with the clear and bright colours in the deep distance. Nice report, this one as well as Beery Hiker's report.
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Location: East of Felixstowe ;)

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