It was a lovely morning this morning, perfect for a walk onto the fells…
Height: 778 metres / 2552 feet Grid reference: SD 26254 97794 Category: The Southern Fells
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It was bright around the periphery of the Lakes today but most of the fells I could see were shrouded in mist. I still fancied a bit of winter walking so headed for Dow Crag in search of some snow and have a hunt around for something else today as well.
Firstly, a bit of a story about a fell dog – this extract is from Wainwright’s ‘The Southern Fells’, Coniston Old Man 6…
I didn’t really know where I was going to end up when I set off in the car as it was pretty damp and miserable. By the time I got to Torver, it was dry-ish so I headed from there up towards Dow Crag and decided to scramble up the South Rake. Miraculously the weather brightened for a spell as I climbed the Rake and the views from the top were quite good. The rain returned by the end though so I think I caught the best of the weather this morning.
I actually came to Coniston yesterday (Wednesday 6th January) to walk theses fells but decided against it due to the heavy snow when I arrived there – I knew the fells would still be there another day and surely enough, this morning turned out lovely and clear. This would be fantastic and memorable day for a walk on the fells. According to Radio Cumbria, last night was the coldest ever recorded in Cumbria with a temperature of -14.5C recorded at Carlisle. When I got to Coniston it was -9C, so I knew it would be pretty cold today. As it turned out, it was quite warm in the sunshine but when in the wind or shade, then it was particularly noticeable how cold it really was.
The Coniston fells cut the weather in half today; to the north-east all was overcast and to the south-west was much sunnier and brighter – guess which way I opted for! I climbed up to Dow Crag by the South Rake, a scree filled gully which is a scramble, not a walk (so be warned!). I made a pathless and steep descent to Blind tarn beneath Brown Pike to have a closer look at this often walked above, but not around, tarn.
It was sunny, snowy and cold up on the Coniston fells this morning and it was nice to get above the snow line and tread the crisp, new snow in sunshine for a while. The wind was constantly blowing in snow showers up on the Dow Crag ridge and it looks like there is more to come. I had intended to walk round to Grey Friar and descend that way but the ominous clouds and heavy snow showers put paid to that idea!
That wasn’t supposed to happen! The weather was predicted to be the same as yesterday, blue skies and general loveliness above the clouds – however, rule #1 is there is no accounting for the weather. There was a strong wind and grey skies above the low lying fog with the upper clouds only clearing at the very end of the walk. This was a good long walk on the shortest day of the year and the fells were surprisingly busy today.
This afternoon’s objective started out as Grey Friar, that outpost of the Coniston fells. As I made my way up to Seathwaite Tarn, I could see it was looking decidedly gloomy up there whilst everywhere else seemed to have blue skies. Instead, I opted to climb up to Dow Crag using a pathless route of ascent from Seathwaite Tarn – a good decision I think!
Today’s weather was the most severe I can remember. There was deep snow all along the Walna Scar road with even deeper snow and gale force winds along the Dow Crag ridge. When I eventually reached The Old Man, I bailed out of the intended route along to Swirl How early – conditions were that bad. (Apologies for the quality of some of the photos, conditions weren’t conducive to great ones!).
It didn’t look too promising when I set off along the Walna Scar Road and sure enough when I reached Brown Pike the wind was gale force and the hailstones were shotblasting my face. Magically, when I reached Dow Crag, the clouds cleared (blown away presumably!) and there were lovely blue skies. The wind was ever present and made the walking difficult at times; full winter gear was required today. Today was the first time I have ever been recognised on the fells from this website (okay, Angus was recognised to be technically correct). He’s famous that dog!
The sun was shining again today, with temperatures up to a pleasant 17C at valley level, although at times it was quite chilly in the cold breeze on the tops. I had a walk up to the Coniston fells from Torver, using the gradual ascent up to Walna Scar via the ‘ignored by Wainwright’ south western fells. The view becomes increasingly better using this route with unrivalled views of the southern Coniston fells and great views along the Duddon Valley to Harter Fell and the Sca Fells beyond.