Five days wandering in the southern Lake District - July 2002
Coniston Old Men Walks with a Camera
Walks with a Camera © Geoff’s Pages 2011
Arriving in Coniston in time for lunch, we visited a likely looking hostelry - a ploughman's lunch seemed appropriate. And a good one it was too - sadly let down by the bread - one small soft soggy roll, microwaved so that it was hot and rubbery - yuk! We'd missed the 12.40 sailing - so we made our way to the lake and joined the 2.40pm sailing of the south lake service to Park a
Mor jetty, on the east side of the lake below Top o' Selside. A path winds its way up through the trees to the low ridge, where we followed the main path northwards. After a while the path enters the western fringes of Grisedale forest, and after a mile or so another path descends to Lawson Park, then gradually contours downwards until it meets the road, which we followed back to Coniston.
Day 1: a gentle start...
Day 2: The Old Man
...via Dow Crag, and then the ridge to Swirl How. Almost the steepest part of this route is the start of the Walna Scar road out of Coniston. The road was somewhat busier with vehicular traffic than we'd expected - the reason becoming clear as we came to the open moor, where the previous night's rave party was gradually dispersing. "Just a few locals having a bit of fun" explained one of the few who were standing and able to communicate, somewhat evasively...
Last time we ascended Dow Crag (some 12 years ago - see  Coniston Sunrise), we had followed the Walna Scar road to the ridge. Today we took a more adventurous route - via Goat's Water to the foot of the crags, thence scrambling up Wainwright's "South Rake" to the summit ridge - great fun! Time for lunch! - then onwards to the Old Man, via Goat's Hawse. The cloud was lowering, and by the time we reached the summit,  Levers Water, the view was somewhat intermittent ("It's John's fault - we never get to see the views when he comes!"). Just a brief pause here, before retracing our steps for a short way on the ridge, via the grassy top of Brim Fell, to Swirl How, at the hub of the Coniston fells. Little point in hanging around here either - so down to Swirl Hawse and the long descent, via Levers Water and the coppermines, to Coniston.
Day 3: Low level - to Elterwater
Day 4: Bowfell and Crinkle Crags
Day 5: Home - via Ease Gill
Coniston Water Coniston Water, as seen from the Coniston jetty The path up to Park a Mor Southern Coniston Water from near Parkamor Coniston Old Man, seen from Park a Mor Low Parkamor On the Walna Scar road Goat's Water Crag rats, Dow Crag The South Rake South Rake - we did it! Dow Crag - looking back from the Old Man Descent to Swirl Hause Near Swirl Hause - time for another snack Curious cloud near Levers Water Levers Water
Well, with the cloud base little over 1,000 feet, there wasn't much point in going any higher. At least it didn't rain - though at times it looked like it might... This was a route that took a little working out - it looked a reasonable distance on the map - should make a good full day outing. We left Coniston village and headed, mostly by field paths, to Tilberthwaite Gill, where we paused for a little while to look at
the old workings. On then by an interesting hill path to Slater Bridge, thence via the rough track to Elterwater village, where, it being lunchtime, we made for the pub. Well why not! A pleasant, if somewhat popular path follows the river downstream, past the lake, to Skelwith Bridge. We then had little alternative but to walk along the main road southwards for about ¾mile, where a fell path winds below the 1056' top of Black Fell to the even more popular (and deservedly so) Tarn Hows. Lastly we began the descent through the forests back to the north end of Coniston Water, and so back to the village "Spot on 5 o'clock too - well done Geoff".
In the fields near Coniston "mostly by field paths" near Coniston Low Yewdale Tree growing in rock Quarry, Tilberthwaite Tree growing in rock Slater Bridge View to Little Langdale Tarn Feathered customer, the pub, Elterwater View from Black Fell (no, it didn't rain!) The Tarn, Tarn Hows
No, we didn't walk there from Coniston. We took the car to Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale. The weather looked good - sunshine, just a little puffy white cloud clearing gradually from the tops... This deservedly popular route needs little explanation, though, as with Dow Crag, we made a slight detour. We began our climb on the Band, the long ridge which leads directly to the summit of Bowfell. Nearing the summit, however, we followed the climbers' traverse to the foot of Cambridge Crag. Wainwright describes a waterspout issuing from its foot - I've only ever seen a good trickle. But he was right in one respect - "nothing better ever
came out of a barrel or a bottle". An easy rake then ascends beside the unusual slab of Flat Crags. Sadly, once again the mist had come down. Someone had planted a Welsh flag on the summit! Admittedly, it was a very small one. A stony descent takes the path to Three Tarns ("more like two and a bit"), where the climb begins to the fascinating ridge of Crinkle Crags. Not that we could see much beyond the immediate foreground... Eventually, the promised difficulties at the "bad step" (for some of the older members of the party anyway) began our long descent via Red Tarn back to Oxendale, and thence to Dungeon Ghyll - for a well- earned pint before the short trip back to Coniston.
"just a little puffy white cloud clearing gradually from the tops... Leaving Dungeon Ghyll Looking back to Langdale from the Band Mist on the climbers' traverse Mist on Flat Crags A misty view towards Crinkle Crags Near Red Tarn Looking back to Crinkle Crags (sheep with a sense of composition!) Oxendale Looking back from the footbridge in Oxendale
No, not near Coniston. A short detour from the M6 takes one to Kirkby Lonsdale, where a hill road leads to Bull Pot Farm - home not of farmers but of potholers - for this is limestone country. Close to the farmhouse is the wonderfully-named Bull Pot of the Witches; further on we stopped to have a look at Cow Pot and Lancaster Pot. Ease Gill itself is a dry valley at this time of year,
A quick inspection of Cow Pot Ease Gill The limestone gorge
though here and there are traces of water. There are numerous potholes along its length - we passed a couple of parties of troglodytes (on the surface, I hasten to add) - a small pig-tailed child was about to descend. We contented ourselves with the surface attractions - a superb little limestone gorge higher up the valley, and, lower down, Ease Gill Kirk, another fine gorge.  I don't think we spent more than a couple of hours on this little expedition, but in many respects it was one of the highlights of the trip - a fine end to a excellent short holiday. Oh, and once again, five days with not a drop of rain, in this otherwise exceptionally wet month.
Limestone beck bottom - above the gorge Ease Gill Kirk Back to Walks with a Camera Contact Geoff