Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell

Date: 20 Sep 2016 Weather: 16’C, cloudy, light wind
Height gain: 2,200 ft Distance: 6.8 miles
Time taken: 5 hours 15 mins Wainwrights: 21,22 of 214

Route:  From car park on Walna Scar Road following the road up to Brown Pike then right to the top of Dow Crag then down to Goat’s Hawse and up to Coniston Old Man then across to Brim Fell taking a turn to the west down the hillside on the way back to Goat’s Hawse and down past Goat’s Water to re-join the Walna Scar Road back to the car park.

It’s a bit cloudier today but still pleasant with light winds.  After our “rest” day yesterday (only a little mountain) we are ready for something more substantial.  We last did this round in September 2007 on a windy day when the ascent off Consiton in the high wind terrified me and I wasn’t the only one struggling.  S had been bowled over by Dow Crag, though, and wanted to see it again sooner rather than later on our second round.

We park up at the car park and there are plenty of people around.  We set off along the very civilised Walna Scar Road which takes us gently uphill on solid terrain.  After about a mile it starts to get steeper and stonier underfoot and we reach the right hand turn underneath Brown Pike.  There’s a good pull up under Brown Pike and we reach a shoulder and stop for a breather looking down at Blind Tarn.

I’d wanted to pause here because I took a great photo down to the tarn on our last trip nine years ago and I’d hoped to recreate it.  It didn’t seem to have quite the same impact this time, though:


Or maybe it is just as good, I’ve managed to find the one from 2007:

1 from 2007a

You can see the difference in the wind between the two – also a bit less full than nine years ago.

After our breather we trudge the final 350ft up the shoulder to the top of Dow Crag:

3 - Dow

The last 50ft is a scramble up the rocky top.  It’s busy up here so we both scramble up, take a quick shot of us at the top, and scramble back down again to let the next couple take their turn.

Wainwright says of Dow Crag “Count this amongst the most delectable and exhilarating of Lakeland summits”.  Hmmm …. it’s ok, but I’m afraid it doesn’t bowl me over.

We move away from the top and find some rocks to sit on for lunch.  Great views north west towards Scafell and Scafell Pike and running along the ridge to Bowfell:


As we much our lunch we look down at Goat’s Hawse – this will be our descent later and it looks daunting from here.  After a restorative pasty we steel ourselves for what looks like a tough mile and 500ft of ascent up Coniston Old Man:

7The descent to Goat’s Hawse was straightforward but the ascent up 500ft of eroded path was harder work but it only took half an hour and we were at the top:

8 - ConistonThere are a lot of people up here, most of them coming up the south ridge via the mine workings.  It’s not the usual hillwalking tribe on this well known mountain and I try not to get too frowny about the numbers of pairs of jeans, fashion leggings and trainers I see – got to give these people credit for deciding on 2,400ft of ascent up a great mountain on their holiday.

There are of course great views down to Coniston Water from here:


The view back to Dow Crag looks impressive:



We don’t spend too long here among the crowds but set off on the straightforward half a relatively flat mile to Brim Fell:



It takes us all of 15 minutes to reach the summit of Brim Fell:

13 - BrimThere’s Scafell and Scafell Pike, Crinkle Crags and Bowfell again in the haze.  There are good views up here, but it’s not the most inspiring top.  We look back up to Coniston Old Man:


You can see the number of people making the same pilgrimage here or to or from Dow Crag today.  We spend our time at the top taking a few photos and trying not to get too involved in the mobile phone calls going on around us – one person clearly can’t be done without at work as she tries to solve whatever earth shattering problem they’re having and a man is struggling to diagnose the problem with his Mum’s washing machine from the top of Brim Fell – I can see that would be quite a challenge.

We need to get back to Goat’s Hawse for our descent but don’t want to go all the way back up to the Old Man just to go down that eroded path so after about a quarter of a mile we head off west down Brim Fell’s grassy flank.  Bouncing down the steep hillside proves to be straightforward enough and we soon get back the Hawse.  I try not to get too nervous as I look at the next stage of the descent:


The path is steep but those nice path builders have been here so the going is not as bad as feared on the good firm stones.  There is, however, a lot of people behind and in front of us, most of whom feel the need to talk at the top of their lungs.

Goat’s Water looks lovely when we reach it in the afternoon sunshine:


We perch on a rock here and have afternoon tea.  We could both do with a loo stop but no chance with the number of people around – including the chap in the blue fleece who moves from position to position taking photos of the water.

The gradient eases up from here and after a mile we reach the Walna Scar Road again and it’s a gentle stroll at a pleasant gradient back to the car.

We take off our boots in the lovely surroundings of the car park – the light has really improved and by now everything has a lovely golden glow:


This was a great walk and a much better descent from Coniston Old Man than our previous one nine years ago (off the very steep south ridge down past Low Water) – only slightly detracted from by the number of noisy people out and about today.

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