Thursday, 7 April 2016

The Joy of Old Friends

My first time up The Old Man of Coniston was almost 31 years ago and I’ve been to the top a couple of times since then, but never in the company of so many good friends.  Eight of us started walking from opposite the Coniston MRT headquarters and headed for the quarries.  The good weather had brought out the crowds and we saw plenty of families making the most of their day out.

Low Water and Wetherlam

As we reached the zigzags we encountered some snow patches but they were soft and avoidable.  Some youngsters were running down them to quicken their descent and some of the older heads amongst us commented that they may just be hastening a mountain rescue callout!

Old Man summit approach

Brim Fell from the Old Man

At the summit we sat and ate lunch with the rest of the crowds.  For most, the way down is simply retracing their footsteps but for those who are a bit more serious about their hillwalking, there are quieter options.  As we headed towards Brim Fell I sought out Buckbarrow Crag; a Simpson summit.  I found a point on the edge of the cliffs which met the listed description but not the grid reference which would have been a point on the footpath with no prominence.  I’m claiming the tick!

Although a Wainwright, Brim Fell is not really a major summit and we quickly reached it and turned our attention towards Dow Crag.  A small snowfield led to a snowball fight before we started the ascent from Goat’s Hawse and the scramble to the very highest point.  There were a lot less people here than on the Old Man, which we could see still had crowds on the top.

Dow Crag

Windermere behind the Old Man

Old Man summit crowds

Walking down towards the Walna Scar pass was a promenade of easy terrain and turned out to be one of the most enjoyable miles I’ve walked in Lakeland.  Although I’ve walked up this way before, I was taken aback as to how good it was.

Goat's Water

Above Buck Pike I tried to locate Dow Crag South Top, another Simpson, and walked over every minor prominence that was a candidate.  Again I found a location that met the description but not the grid reference but I was confident that I could claim the tick.

Goat's Water from above the Dow Crag gullies

Dow Crag from the south ridge

Crowds on Coniston Old Man

Blind Tarn under Brown Pike

From the pass, it was a relaxing stroll down the Walna Scar road in the afternoon sun to the cars where we stowed our sacks and boots.  The obligatory post-perambulatory beverages were provided by the welcoming Sun Hotel, the headquarters of Donald Campbell’s doomed attempt to break the world water speed record.