Breakfast on the morning of the second day of my break in Coniston and the rain had gone. The weather forecast threatened it would return mid to late afternoon so straight after breakfast I packed my rucksack and made an early start. I’d decided to walk over Dow (pronounced Doe) Crag, a mountain with towering crags beloved by “crag rats” (rock climbers) but which has a gentler side for the less adventurous. It’s on the opposite side of a col from The Old Man of Coniston with a large tarn, Goat Water, in the bottom of the valley.
I walked through Coniston village and set off up Walna Scar road, an old track that connects Coniston and Seathwaite and would have originally been used by pack horses transporting slate from the many quarries in the fells. Today the first section is a narrow metalled road leading up to a car park in an old quarry. Used by many walkers to save some climbing. I, however, was walking up and it was hard work as it was very steep before levelling off.
I passed through the car park and continued on along what was now a rough track. I was soon up on the lonely fells and on my way up only saw two other people – both fell runners – one running in each direction.
Climbing up towards the summit of the pass I crossed over the beck taking water from Goat Water tarn down to the valley via this attractive little stone bridge (listed as Torver Bridge on the OS map).
I had a good view over to Dow Crag by now, but could see low cloud starting to threaten.
I carried on, reaching the top of the pass turning right to start climbing up towards the ridge when, sure enough, the cloud rolled in.
The path took me up towards a ridge with several summits – Brown Pike, Buck Pike and, finally, Dow Crag itself. A good walk and although the east side of the ridge consists of steep, rocky crags that plummet down to the bottom of the valley, the west side is a much gentler slope. So the walking wasn’t too difficult but for the entire period of my traverse I was in low cloud and visibility was poor. However, the path was well defined so there was minimal chance of getting lost or falling over the edge of the crags.
On a fine day there would have been excellent views over towards the Old Man and the other fells, but I could hardly see a thing!
I descended down into Goat’s Hawse and out of the cloud. And, for short while, the cloud lifted from Dow Crag
and the Old Man.
Looking down to Goats Water
However, the tops of the other nearby fells were still shrouded in mist
I was tempted to climb up the path to the summit of the Old Man, but I’d be up there the next day so took the path down into the valley and then along the east shore of Goat’s Water. Looking back I could see that the cloud had returned, covering the top of Dow Crag and the Old Man.
As I descended good views down to Coniston Water opened up
Reaching the Walna Scar Road and set off back down towards Coniston.
On reaching the car park, rather than retrace my route down the metalled road I cut across country descending through the fields towards Consiton Water.
Looking back across to the fells where the cloud was starting to lift.
I cut across to Bowhamstead, a small hamlet to the south of Coniston Village, then walked across the fields to the Jetty
where I stopped for a brew at the Bluebird Cafe.
Oh, and a slice of cake.
I rested for a while looking over the lake then set back to Sheperd’s Bridge. I hadn’t been back long when the “promised” rain arrived, a couple of hours later than forecast. So although it was a grey day and visibility was poor on the top, (so not so good for photos), it was a good walk.
I like Coniston, it is a very nice place. Nice pictures.
Thanks 🙂 Coniston is probably my favourite village in the Lakes. Not too touristy, it still feels like a “real” place. And good countryside and walking easily accessible. Lots of history, too.
An impressive landscape, the first I ever walked through in the Lakes – and we like the Bluebird cafe too.
Dow Crag is fabulous summit and one of my favorites, even if I’ve been pronouncing it wrong for 30 years! I’ve scrambled up a couple of its gullies in summer and winter, very scary.
I’m not as brave as you and stick to the safer routes!
This was when I was young and foolish. I looked down the gullies this time and it made shudder!
I couldn’t even see down them due to the mist. Perhaps a good thing 😉
Once again…thanks for taking me along.
That first photo is wonderfully atmospheric! Strangely, like Andy, I was thinking of climbing one of those gullies as I read your post. I don’t know why – I’ve been up to the top many times since without giving it a thought. Wild horses couldn’t drag me up there now – I don’t think I really liked it at the time, not that that stopped me from subjecting myself to repeat visits. Your route along the ridge over Brown Pike and Buck Pike is much more my speed. Glad the weather held off for you.
No way I’ll be going up the gullies. But I’ll have to return. It was a good walk and I’d like to see the view rather than most (although that had its attractions – very atmospheric.