Remembrance Day on Great Carrs

11th November 2018

It was mid October during the ascent of Seat Sandal did Rod first mention would I be up for the Remembrance Day Service walk on Great Carrs, and after listening to Rod's proposed route I jumped at the chance, this came after Rod, David and I had visited the Halifax Bomber wreckage below Great Carrs which was pushed into Broad Slack after the Bomber crashed into the summit during bad weather in October 1944.

Normally an ascent on Great Carrs would be gained from Coniston or Little Langdale but Rod's route was something different in that his route started from the bottom of the Walna Scar Road in the Duddon Valley, after gaining Grey Friar we would attend the Remembrance Day Service then go on to summit, Swirl How, the Old Man, Brim Fell, Buck Pike, and Brown Pike then descend back to Seathwaite from the top of the Walna Scar Road, this walk had my name all over it.

Unfortunately David couldn't be with us but who we do have joining us today is mutual friend Karl Holden who manages Karl is a fell walker who predominently walks the Lakeland Fells but is also a serious wild camper, I reckon after the dreadful conditions we experienced today Karl almost wished he'd of packed his tent with him, so dreadful in fact we were sadly forced to abort our intended route and retrace our steps back to Walna Scar after a very poignant and moving Remembrance Service at the Memorial on Great Carrs summit.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.

Ascent: 2,737 Feet - 834 Metres
Wainwrights: 2, Grey Friar - Great Carrs
Weather: Light Rain to Start, Turning Heavier Throughout With Cloud Down to 1,600ft. Strong Winds Over The Summits. Highs of 9°C Lows of 6°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Bottom of Walna Scar Road, Duddon
Area: Southern
Miles: 7.7
Walking With: Rod Hepplewhite & Karl Holden
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Bottom of Walna Scar Road, Seathwaite - Tongue House - Seathwaite Tarn - Troutal Fell - Grey Friar - Great Carrs - Grey Friar - Troutal Fell - Seathwaite Tarn - Tongue House - Bottom of Walna Scar Road, Seathwaite

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA20 6EE
Grid Reference: SD 239 696
Notes: There is room for around three to four cars at the end of the Duddon Valley side of Walna Scar Road. Despite limited parking the Duddon Valley side of Walna Scar Road isn't as popular as the Coniston side meaning if early enough you shouldn't have any trouble parking here. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Looking back towards Seathwaite and the Duddon Valley as we head towards Seathwaite Tarn 08:45am 6°C

It was incredible to think that I'd witnessed a wonderful sunrise this morning during my drive north as had Karl who arrived at the parking spaces at the bottom of the Walna Scar Road shortly before me soon followed by Rod who had stayed over at the Travellers Lodge, Ulpha since Friday evening. The forecast wasn't good at all with heavy rain, wind and low cloud expected throughout the morning although this was due to lift around midday. The rain had held off during the drive but no sooner had we parked up squally showers started followed by a prolonged deluge. We kitted up in full waterproofs and to be honest, to start with I felt as snug as a bug and eager to test my new Sealskin fully waterproof gloves.

With the cars all locked we crossed the bridge over Long House Gill which to no surprise was in spate. With over a mile and half to go until we reached Seathwaite Tarn we head northwards along the Tarn access track soon finding our views limited due to a build up of low cloud. The rain would come and go and as height was gained we were met by strong winds and heavier rain which seemed to drench just the right side of our bodies. Still in good spirit we maintained conversation and continued along the track until Seathwaite Tarn Dam wall came into view followed by a blanket of low cloud.

Seathwaite Tarn from Seathwaite Dam.
With the Dam wall reached it was here we took in the limited view towards Troutal Fell and Grey Friar's south western ridge, it wasn't good viewing but at least we'd been expecting it. Not seen from here is the path we would gain the ridge by which can be found close to the dark coloured bracken seen just above the dam itself.

Raven Nest How seen over Seathwaite Tarn.

Looking back on the Dam from the Wier.
Having crossed the Dam wall we continued to follow a grass path along the shore of the Tarn before starting the steep ascent on Troutal Fell where the cloud seemed to linger just inches above our heads.

Somewhere between Troutal Fell and Grey Friar.
We misplaced the path from the Tarn somehow and gained the best part of the ridge pathless soon picking the path up again a short time later where views were practically non existent, this did nothing to take away the enjoyment from the walk and indeed conversation and much sooner than expected Grey Friar's summit loomed from the cloud.

Approaching Grey Friar summit.
We had made good timing reaching Grey Friar at exactly 10:20am. With Great Carrs just a fifteen minute walk away we should easily reach the Memorial with time to spare, but what to do with our spare time?

Its all smiles, Karl and Rod at Grey Friar summit.
I know, lets take a photo...or three!

The Matterhorn Rock, Grey Friar.
We couldn't summit Grey Friar without making a visit to the Matterhorn Rock.

Great Carrs Memorial 10:40am

Having descended Grey Friar we crossed the grassy Col known as Fairfield where the rain and wind increased at a point where it was impossible to take part in conversation. In single file, and in almost silence we ascended towards the Memorial as figures attending the service loomed from within the cloud. Shortly before arriving at the Memorial we sight a walker taking shelter in a hollow below the summit although how much shelter that hollow was providing was debateable.

We reached the summit and found one chap walking on the spot only to keep warm, with him two Spaniels who shivered and craved attention from the owner who told us he was from Coniston, he went onto say that any picture he would take would be posted on a local Coniston website but I forget which. We eagerly awaited for 11:00am to come as more people started to arrive, mostly from the direction of Wet Side Edge and a few from the Three Shire Stone.

A group of walkers pay tribute with by posing with this Lest we Forget flag shortly before the service began.
Some of those who did arrive from the Three Shire Stone was Facebook friends Andrew Foster and Tracey Attrill along with Andrew's dog Billy who I noticed through a gap in the crowd so I went over for quick chat, it's fair to say that this is the third time I've bumped into Andrew on the fells and we could have chatted for longer before noticing that the crowd had started to gather around the Memorial, it was almost 11:00am and the Service was about to start.

We prepare for the two minutes silence.
After re-joining Rod and Karl the crowd silently gathered around the memorial at the stroke of 11:00am as one walker beautifully read out a prayer disturbed only by the howling wind and driving rain followed by a recording of The Last Post and two minutes silence.

Call Sign 'S' for Sugar.

A round of applause followed the two minutes silence and one by one the crowd started to slowly disband each disappearing back into the cloud. We go back over to Andrew and Tracey and catch up some more before shivers started to set in and standing around chatting just wasn't a option, we all needed to make our way back or in our case, continue with the walk. By now Rod and Karl were a few steps away and after rejoining them Rod asked was it wise to continue, by now we had been standing in the wind and rain for nigh on half an hour and in that time, if anymore possible we weren't just wet on the outside but on the inside too, I for one knew my base layers were damp which shouldn't be possible given I'm wearing a waterproof jacket but damp they were. It took what felt like minutes to digest what Rod was asking because I had prepared my mind to continue on with the walk so much so my head was mentally at Swirl How summit. Rod and Karl stared back all of us knowing the answer, none of us man enough to say it first, we agreed unanimously that we wouldn't gain anything except possible hypothermia if we continued, aye good call Rod, lets head back.

There was no one around when we left the Memorial but I could just about make out Andrew and Tracey as they started to make their way back to Little Langdale before they disappeared into the cloud. By now the wind and rain was driving down hitting us from every angle, Rod, feeling concerned for his camera wrapped a carrier bag around the case which prompted me to check mine, my trustworthy Nikon was coping fine for now although its waterproof case was feeling slightly damp on the inside. Ascending Grey Friar again Karl broke the silence and over the wind and rain spoke about competing in the Lakeland 50 next year with his son and Rod and I stopped to listen, I quite fancy the Lakeland 50 myself although I fear any long distance walking for me now is behind me due to my foot injury. The Matterhorn Rock was passed but this time we couldn't see it due to the thickening of the cloud and we dropped off the summit pathless which caused me to check our position "abit further right lads" and soon we picked up the path again.

Slowly but surely we lost height and with nothing to fix on we relied solely on the path beneath our feet before Rod spotted Seathwaite Tarn below through a clearing in the cloud, by now the rain fell like vertical rods, typical Lakeland rain and damn right miserable. The cloud by now was lingering just above the waters surface and we crossed the Dam wall in single file just as we had earlier. Although it was still bucketing down the wind had eased and we were able to talk again this time on how moving we all felt todays service was more so, the recording of the Last Post heard over a howling wind, it was enough to make the hairs on your arms stick up if they weren't soaked through to the skin. We started our descent towards Walna Scar as the cloud started to break up first over the Duddon Valley revealing chinks of blue sky in the distance highlighting Harter Fell and Wallowbarrow Head towards the west, we all made a move for our cameras but on removing mine I found a small pool of water in the bottom of my camera case which resulted in my camera lens fogging up so I attempted to take some half hearted shots using my camera on my mobile phone but my fingers were so cold after being submerged in wet gloves I gave up which leads me to say that nothing is waterproof despite what the packaging might say.

The cloud continued to break revealing more blue sky and with it came sunshine. By the time we had arrived back at the cars it looked like a different day altogether but our soaking gear and shivering bones told us different, a small price to pay for the freedom that many of us take for granted.


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