Buck Pike to Brim Fell via Blind Tarn

12th April 2014

The sole ambition of todays walk was to pay a visit to the elusive Blind Tarn which is nestled in a hollow cove deep below Brown Pike. The name Blind Tarn derives from the aspect that it isn’t that easily seen from the ridge above…blink & you could miss it.

My aim was to locate Blind Tarn via the Walna Sca Pass from Fellgate, here options are left open should you want to continue west towards the Dunnerdale Fells or Dow Crag via its satellite fells of Brown Pike & Buck Pike, a route that I have only done from the Seathwaite Side of Walna Sca a long time ago I might add. Today I shall be paying particular attention to locating a faint path that leaves the Walna Sca Pass for Blind Tarn, I had my reservations on locating such path but thankfully my trained eye prevailed, my only worry as the rain & the mist that was descending on me & the fact that I couldn’t see thirty yards in front of my face.

I was lucky enough to have a last minute change of work plans which saw me have another weekend off, the forecast wasn’t the best so I decided to leave the walking until Sunday where it faired a little better, so with this I used my free Saturday morning to mow the lawn & generally tidy up the garden while our dog Holly chassed the Lawn Mower & generally got under my feet, I couldn’t quite decide whether Holly was having a great time or just being damn naughty, I still cant.

Anyway I checked the forecast & soon realised that come late afternoon Lakeland will be enjoying some much welcome sunshine to finish the day off.

I then had one of those ‘this could just work out fine’ moments.


Wainwright Guidebook Four

The Southern Fells

-Dow Crag

The fell is extensive, and in marked contrast to the near – vertical eastern face is the smooth and gentle contour of the western slope descending to the little valley of Tarn Beck. The northern flank is easy too, except for a fringe of crag over looking Seathwaite Tarn. South of the top, on a well defined ridge, are the subsidiary summits of Buck Pike and Brown Pike, and beyond the latter is the lofty pass of Walna Scar.


Ascent: 2,560 Feet – 780 Meters
Wainwrights: 3, Dow Crag – Coniston Old Man – Brim Fell
Weather: Showers/Low Cloud To Start, Turning Sunny, Strong Winds, Highs Of 12°C Lows Of 9°C Feels Like 1°
Parking: Fell Gate, Walna Sca Road
Area: Southern
Miles: 6.6
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 4 Hours
Route: Fellgate – Boo Tarn – Walna Sca Pass – Blind Tarn – Buck Pike – Dow Crag – Goats Hawse – Coniston Old Man – Brim Fell – Brim Fell Rake – Low Water – Fellgate

Map and Photo Gallery


The Bell from the bottom of the Walna Sca Pass 15:30 9°C

Okay, so the weather at this point wasn’t holding upto expectation & I saw absolutely no potential whilst I kitted up as the wind howled around the car park. I go back to a little over an hour & a half ago when I picked up a pair of my walking shorts & thankfully, put them back.

It’s cold & it’s windy, my hands feel the nip almost immediately & so do my ears as I quickly give them the comfort of the hat & gloves treatment. By eck where’s this promised sunshine I can only mutter.

I watch dozens of walkers return from the direction of the Old Man, back to the comfort of their warm cars, most of whom’s faces don’t particularly look like they’ve had the best of days on the fells.

With the car locked I throw my pack over my shoulder where I pass more & more walkers all heading form the Old Man, it starts to rain, heavy.

Boo Tarn is passed as I fail to find the enthusiasm to lift my camera from its case. Children form the Duke Of Edinburgh scheme are using a grassy bank to shelter from the driving rain that by now is hitting me full on in the face, every now & again I give my head a jolt to clear the rain drops building at my hoods peak.

It’s almost 4pm & I have to question, what am I doing here?

Cove Bridge.

I persevere up the Pass passing more & more walkers all heading back to Fell Foot & indeed the dryness & protection form the elements that only their cars can provide. Here the track is wide open as I glance left to see bands upon bands of rain showers trailing my flanks, I can only venture forward as I keep telling myself that this will clear, this will clear.

Optimism had to be at its highest, even though I didn’t believe it.

Walna Sca Pass.

Sometime later the showers had passed but I am left feeling somewhat dishevelled. My gear has took a right soaking as I utter the immortal words, that nothing is totally waterproof.

By now the wind had gained in strength of which I’m a little thankful this allowing me time to dry out, my hood goes down as I re-adjust the wonky hat.

I give myself the option of reaching Blind Tarn, then, should the weather be as bad as it is now I shall turn on my heel & sadly head back.

Besides the weather my attentions avert back to locating the track that will lead me to Blind Tarn. I keep a keen look out passing what can only be described as old miners tracks leading off over spoil heaps. I have no visual aids nor can I see how far the crags of Brown Pike are ahead of me, my research told me that the path leads away after a series of twist’s in the path – as I approach a left sweep in the path I spot the ruins of what might be an old cairn together with what looks like a faint path leading off into the cloud.

All paths lead to Blind Tarn.

I study my location with my GPS, venturing any further up the path from here would surely see me miss the approach to Blind Tarn.

This must be it.

Heading through the old workings.
The path widens somewhat gaining me confidence that I am at least on the right path, even as a seasoned fell walker scenes such as this can often lift confidence.

Cloud clings to the crags high above my flanks leaving the place feeling silent & eerie.

It was after leaving the Walna Sca Pass & topping on the path above Blind Tarn did the cloud ever so slightly begin to lift, at the time I really didn’t realise that this would be a permanent effect.

I just had to hang in there.

A fleeting glance back.
After the wind & the driving rain even I struggle to put into words just how thought provoking those moments were as the cloud eased above the clouds much to my delight, finally revealing Blind Tarn…

Blind Tarn.

I study Blind Tarn from above whilst at the same time still not quite believing what is unfolding before me. The temperature notably drops yet I can still feel the moisture left in the air from the retreating cloud cover, each gasp of cool breath is traced all the way back to my lungs until it returns back out again.

Special times.

Blind Tarn.

Once down at the Tarn I begin a little exploring, more so of my surroundings & the five tiny walkers I spot retreating The Cove.

Time unfortunately is not on my side but this does not stop me navigating Blind Tarn where I spot a perfectly placed boulder where I have a power stop if only to take in the views.

The Cove as seen from Blind Tarn.

Down time at Blind Tarn.
Behind me is my steep exit back onto the ridge, but that can wait a while…

My steep ascent to re-join the ridge.
I carefully pick my ascent route, from the Tarn no obvious path is clear so I go with the lay of the land & inch my way using both my newly acquired walking poles, stopping every now & again to get my breath back.

Blind Tarn from my ascent.
The ‘get my breath back breaks’ had the added advantage of exploring the perch like basin Blind Tarn is situated within.

Brow Pike together with a distant White Pike as I top out on the ridge.

Once I crested the ridge my views became more & more extensive offering long distant views towards the Dudden Estuary & its neighbouring fells.

Despite being on a natural high I now had to take on a fight with the wind as it blew in fearlessly from the west coast.

You can’t have it all I guess! 

From my ascent on Buck Pike.
Here looking back along the ridge towards Brown Pike with White Pike at the far end of the ridge, Blind Tarn of course can be seen perched within its shelf like presence just below Brown Pike.

After a fight with the wind I took this photo looking towards a slightly hazy Harter Fell.

Dow Crag taken from Buck Pike’s summit.
The wind along the top of the ridge was fought with battle, which is why my next set of photos were taken from a kneeling down prospective, the wind however could not hamper the views which were truly amazing.

Dow Crag again seen from Buck Pike.

One of the main things I noticed when walking so close to dusk was the position of the sun & more to the point the position of the long shadows which were all facing east as the sun set low over in the west.

It maybe the smallest of things but I found it really interesting in that I’m never normally around at this time of an evening which made everything seem ‘new like’

Coniston Old Man together with Goats Water as seen shortly after leaving Buck Pike.

The strong sunlight illuminates Goats Water in a deep blue…the wind doing the rest.

Dow Crag summit with the top of Easy Terrace seen in the Foreground.

Dow Crag South Rake seen with Goats Water.
A small detour saw me pass the top of Dow Crag’s South Rake from which I hold some great memories.

Here looking back along the ridge to Buck Pike, Brown Pike is out of sight while White Pike can still be seen under shade in the far distance.


Dow Crag summit.
The wind was blowing a royal hooley by the time I reached the rocky summit outpost of Dow Crag. As I clambered to take on the last few meters I was caught by the wind which almost took me off my feet, I was never in any danger – however the summit only managed a solitary ‘tap’ from my walking pole to claim that I at least tried to get up there.

The distant Scafells seen over Grey Friar.

While it was good to be back on terraferma (solid underfoot) It was getting to the point when I just needed a little respite from the wind that was blowing me all over the ridge, the sooner I descended down to Goats Hawse the better.

If only so I could re-adjust the hat!

The tiny valley of Tarn Head Beck incorporating Grey Friar, Swirl How & Great Carrs above its flanks.

The descent to Goats Hawse was swift to say the least thanks to a helpful push from the wind which by now had almost taken over my hearing…the surreal of Goats Hawse was cherished before I topped out on the other side to take on Coniston Old Man.

But, time for a couple of photos within my peaceful surroundings.

Coniston Old Man from Goats Hawse.

The prominent profile of the Dow Crag ridge as seen from Goats Hawse with Goats Water still reflecting the late afternoon sun down below.
After re-adjusting myself once more I set my sights on the ascent on Coniston Old Man, I figure I’ll be up there in no time at all with this wind pushing me up from behind.

Coniston Old Man summit approaches.
The time is approaching 6:00pm as I arrive at the Old Man, my legs are fresh despite a couple of steep ascents & I feel like I could walk forever should the light allow, there’s nothing like that feeling of just you & the mountain.

Dow Crag silhouettes as seen from Coniston Old Man.
I still find it hard to believe that all of this was under cloud a little under two hours ago, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for all the walkers I passed earlier who wouldn’t have seen any of this, on the other hand I have to feel a little pleased that my trust in the forecast turned out correct.

The low sun was casting more silhouettes this time over the Dow Crag ridge with views as far as Black Comb in the far distance.

Looking down on Levers Water together with the Black Sails Ridge from the summit of Coniston Old Man.
Brim Fell Rake can be seen centre left leading down towards Low Water, I’m not too sure if I stuck to the original route but I know I was never far away, this is what happens when I want to do a little exploring!

Brim Fell is just ahead.
With a little help from the wind I shall be there in no time at all.

Here looking back on Coniston Old Man under late afternoon light.

Dow Crag, Buck Pike & Brown Pike silhouetted once more from the summit of Brim Fell.

Black Sails & Wetherlam taken from my Brim Fell Rake descent.
After leaving Brim Fell summit I head right & follow a grassy ridge from where I took this photo over looking the Black Sails Ridge & Wetherlam, down there is Levers Water & a little to my right is Raven Tor (sadly out of shot) sadly Raven Tor is a fell (or hill) too far as I make another right & head down towards Low Water

Coniston Old Man & Low Water from my Brim Fell Rake descent.
The last part of my descent was done over a grassy path & made for some great reflection time, it’s not very often I would walk at such a late time in the day but if they all turned out like todays walk I can see me taking advantage of more late evening walks.

Low Water.
There was no wind around by the time I reached Low Water, every now & again I could hear a faint tweet from a bird or a distant breeze would come & go without notice, I could of sat here much longer than I actually did.

Passing the ruined miners buildings as I make my way back to Walna Sca.

Low Light over the Black Sails Ridge & Above Beck Fells.

Taking my time.
My walk is almost over & I can’t help but feel a sense of fulfilment together with a hint of sadness that my walk is coming to an end, usually I would take on a good pace at the end of a walk but not this evening, this evening I slow down, I kick stones & reflect on what a truly memorable experience this walk turned out to be.


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