Coniston 7 - Thursday 8 October 2015
Fellgate - Walna Scar Road - Brown Pike - Buck Pike - Dow Crag - Goat's Hawse - Coniston Old Man - Brim Fell - Levers Hawse - Swirl Band - Grey Friar - Great Carrs - Broad Slack - Swirl How - Prison Band - Swirl Hawse - Black Sails - Wetherlam - Lad Stones - Hole Rake - Miners Bridge - Coniston - Fellgate
Fellgate (Free) - Grid Ref SD289970
Good mountain paths for the most part. Care needs to be taken in and around Dow Crag and also on the descent of Prison Band and Lad Stones - both descents are steep and rocky in places.
Overcast with low cloud although this cleared on leaving Grey Friar
OL6 - The English Lakes (South Western Area)
We first completed this walk about 3 years ago (link here) and this time our plan was to do it clockwise therefore we would be heading up on to the route from the south rather than via Wetherlam. This walk takes in the tops of all the major fells in the Coniston range (7 Wainwrights) and is a long but very rewarding day out. There are a number of options to shorten the trip but if you pick a good day weather wise then this is a walk to savour and really take your time over.
The walk today started from the parking area at the eastern end of the Walna Scar Road at Fellgate. Already at an elevation of 750ft, the large parking area beyond the fell gate is a popular starting point for many an ascent of Coniston Old Man. On a weekday out of season there are plenty of parking places to be had but during the summer and at weekends this is a busy place therefore be early or park in Coniston and enjoy the walk up to Fellgate from there!
The Walna Scar Road was built to connect Coniston with the Duddon Valley and the quarries on either side. It is a delightful path and meanders its way along, undulating now and then until steepening about half a mile before the turn north to start the ascent of the South Ridge to Dow Crag. Whilst we had clear visibility along the Walna Scar Road, looking up towards Brown Pike we could see the dreaded clag that was to stay with us for quite a while. Summiting Brown Pike there is another gentle meander along the ridge before a short pull up on to Buck Pike. Soon Dow Crag is reached and to attain the summit there is a testy scramble but not overly difficult.
From Dow Crag the route makes its way down to Goat's Hawse before a long, steady rise to reach the ridge leading to the summit of Coniston Old Man. It was strange to see the summit so quiet today therefore we were able to hang around a bit and chat to the one or two people that were out enjoying this fantastic spot. As we left the Old Man and made our way to Brim Fell the clag was still hanging around and was teasing us somewhat and did not look like clearing away fully anytime soon.
From the large cairn on Brim Fell the route drops gradually to reach Levers Hawse before climbing again up Swirl Band. The path is soon left to head north west over sometimes pathless ground in order to transit around the upper reaches of Calf Cove to climb up to the summit of Grey Friar. There are normally good views from the summit of Grey Friar although these were lost to us today but to be fair the visibility was improving. Great Carrs was next and we left Grey Friar by way of our ascent route and climbed gradually to reach firstly the Memorial and then the summit itself. By this time the cloud had all but disappeared and we were treated to superb views, particularly back to Grey Friar and over to Swirl How.
The summit of Swirl How is an easy transit from Great Carrs and is a simple crescent shaped bimble to reach the large cairn adorning the top - from here the view over to Black Sails and Wetherlam is amazing. Leaving the cairn, the route now descended Prison Band and whilst not a tricky descent, it is worth taking a bit of care as it is steep in places. Reaching Swirl Hawse we now had a bit of a steep slog to reach Black Sails which was followed by a much easier transit up on to the summit of Wetherlam - our 7th and final Wainwright of the day. From Wetherlam the view gave us a superb panorama over much of Lakeland and it is worth hanging around a while on the summit to take it all in.
It was now time to make our descent back to Coniston via the path above Lad Stones. The path is a gradual descent although steepens markedly before reaching Hole Rake and then increases in gradient even more to reach the valley floor at the Miners Bridge. From the bridge it is a nice easy walk to reach the sanctuary of The Sun Inn and a well deserved drink. Suitably refreshed, it was then time to walk the strenuous 3/4 mile uphill back to the Car Park at Fellgate.
To us, this is one of the classic rounds and is best saved for a good weather day when the views and panorama of Lakeland can really be enjoyed and appreciated. We had a mixed bag of weather today but this was still a memorable day out - apart from Coniston Old Man which can sometimes be extremely busy, the remainder of the route does not draw the big crowds and the fells can be enjoyed in relative solitude.
The sign at the start of the walk at Fellgate - we were following the Walna Scar Road towards Seathwaite
Not many cars here today at Fellgate
Looking to The Bell (centre) with Wetherlam beyond
Anyone seen Fudge?
Here he is
Cove Bridge on the Walna Scar Road - Brown Pike is in cloud to the right
The tiny stone shelter on the Walna Scar Road.
The summit of Brown Pike
Heading to Buck Pike - the cloud is still hanging around unfortunately
The summit of Buck Pike
To get to the summit of Dow Crag involves a testy but enjoyable little scramble
Looking down to Goat's Hawse & back to Dow Crag
Looking down on Low Water and the zig zag ascent path to Coniston Old Man
The final few feet of ascent up on to Coniston Old Man - looks a bit quiet up there for a change
Looking back to the connecting ridge to Brim Fell and down on to Low Water from Coniston Old Man - the clag is trying hard to go away!
The summit of Coniston Old Man
The clag shifting to reveal a patch of sun on Wetherlam
The cairned path along the ridge leading to the summit of Brim Fell
The huge cairn on the summit of Brim Fell
Seathwaite Tarn from Levers Hawse
Levers Hawse and the descent from Brim Fell
Our next goal - Grey Friar across Calf Cove
Levers Water with Coniston providing a backdrop
Leaving Levers Hawse the path heads towards Swirl Band
Leaving Swirl Band to cut across to Fairfield before ascending Grey Friar ahead
The summit cairn on Grey Friar - still no views to speak of
The northern cairn on Grey Friar
The 'Matterhorn Rock' on the summit of Grey Friar - the clag continues to tease us
The memorial and wreckage on Great Carrs - a Canadian Bomber crashed here in 1944
Dow Crag is to the left with our route of descent from Grey Friar to the right
Dow Crag is to the left with our route of descent from Grey Friar to the right
Swirl How from Great Carrs - looks like the weather may be improving
The summit of Great Carrs
Another look at the descent from Grey Friar with Harter Fell peeping in over the back
Heading for Swirl How - Fudge practices his Dressage moves
The summit cairn on Swirl How
Black Sails and Wetherlam across Swirl Hawse
Leaving Swirl How to descend Prison Band
The descent via Prison Band from Swirl How
Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags & Bowfell
Looking over Greenburn to Glaramara, Pike O'Blisco & The Langdale Pikes
The summit of Black Sails looking to Levers Water, Coniston Old Man & Brim Fell
Zooming in on The Scafells from Black Sails
The Langdale Pikes
Heading up to the summit of Wetherlam
The summit of Wetherlam
Helvellyn & Fairfield from the summit of Wetherlam
The descent from Wetherlam above Lad Stones
Descending the Lad Stones path to Coniston
As the path starts to steepen the view over Coniston just gets better
Looking back up to Lad Stones & Wetherlam
From Hole Rake the path descends very steeply to Coppermines and care needs to be taken here
A relaxing pint in The Sun Inn at Coniston before the walk up the hill back to Fellgate
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