Dow Crag from Fell Gate

17th August 2019

After another week of unsettled weather I spied what appeared to be a weather window during Saturday afternoon which was timed perfectly as I was working Saturday morning in Manchester. It's fair to say I'm really fond of walking during the latter hours of the afternoon, in fact you've probably heard me banging on about it before. My last three walks have all had late starts mainly because the forecast has been better for the afternoon than it had the morning. It hasn't been the best of Summer's for walking and it's got to a point that I'd rather walk chancing some sunshine even it means getting home gone eight most evenings, such the poor Summer we've had.

Although I've walked in other places after a Saturday morning in work I predominently walk the Coniston fells mainly because of access and parking, there isn't many places you can park in Lakeland if arriving mid afternoon and I rarely struggle at Fell Gate due to its large car park where I normally find myself walking 'against the grain' finding most people are heading back to their cars which was certainly the case today noting they looked a little wind swept as was the forecast. I just kind of hoped that the promised sunshine wouldn't let me down.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells

-Dow Crag 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: 1,950 Feet - 596 Metres
Wainwrights: Dow Crag
Visiting Brown Pike - Buck Pike
Weather: A Bright Start Turning Overcast With Strong Winds. Highs of 18°C Lows of 17 °C Freezing Above The Summits
Parking: Fell Gate, Walna Scar Road
Area: Southern
Miles: 6.2
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 3 Hours 15 Minutes
Route: Fell Gate - Boo Tarn - Cove Bridge - Top of Walna Scar Road - Brown Pike - Buck Pike - Dow Crag - Goats Hawse - Goats Water - The Cove - Fell Gate

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA21 8HQ
Grid Reference: SD 289 197
Notes: The carpark at Fell Gate is very popular all season round and therefore can fill up quite quickly especially throughout the Summer, my best advice is to arrive early although I have be known to park here in the middle of Summer in mid afternoon after work and secured myself a parking spot. The nearest post code is for The Sun Hotel just outside of Coniston. Follow the postcode for The Sun Hotel which will appear on the right, from here the road climbs and bends sharply to the left before arriving at a junction, head straight ahead ignoring the left turn onto Walna Scar Road for a mile before arriving at a large metal gate where you will find the entrance to Fell Gate Car Park. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


The Bell, Black Sails, Wetherlam and Lad Stones from Fell Gate 14:45pm 18°C
I only encountered the usual traffic at Preston Interchange which was much less than I've sat through before arriving at Fell Gate (via Torver) just gone two thirty. The car park was busy but I've seen it much busier at this time of year. I managed to park in the same place I had during my last visit back in June and proceeded to change from my work clothes into my walking gear inside my car as there were far too many folk about to see me in my boxer shorts! Changed, I checked my kit instantly feeling the strong winds which blew directly down Walna Scar, there was no getting away it, I was heading face into the wind from the off it seemed. With my Montane Sabre-Tooth windproof added I locked my car and started walking towards Boo Tarn passing heaps of people all looking windswept as they headed back to their cars.

Brown Pike and Buck Pike from Walna Scar Road.
It didn't take long for my eyes to start streaming from the constant battering they were receiving from the wind, my only concern right now despite the bright conditions was how windy it was going to be 'on't tops' I guess I'll know sooner or later.

"How many times have I sheltered under the arch of Cove Bridge, eating damp sandwiches in the rain" A.H Griffin.
That's Brown Pike up ahead, this afternoons first summit with Torver Beck in full flow as it passes below Cove Bridge.

Buck Pike East Ridge with Dow Crag leading down onto Goats Hawse.
Well the sun is certainly putting on a lovely display casting late afternoon light and shadow over Buck Pike and Dow Crag.

Goat Crag and Coniston Old Man from Walna Scar Road.
With Cove quarries below seen with another example of that lovely light again.

The view over The Cove towards Goats Hawse in the distance with Buck Pike seen left, and the Old Man seen right.
Any groups or couples had been left behind shortly before crossing Cove Bridge which meant I had this section of Walna Scar Road to myself which was probably a good thing as I had the steep zigzags of Walna Scar Road ahead of me which I found in a 'stream like' state with plenty of flowing water underfoot. I pick my way through the zigzags and pass the narrow side track which leads off to Blind Tarn quarries indicating that I wasn't too far from the summit.

The view over the top of Walna Scar Road summit towards Walna Scar, White Maiden and Caw.
With the silhouette of Black Comb in the distance.

Buck Pike and Coniston Old Man from Brown Pike summit.
I found the ascent of Brown Pike quite busy passing two groups who were on their way down followed by a couple who had just left the summit. It was a warm ascent accompanied by sunshine and strong winds meaning although I wanted to lose my windproof the summit nip meant it was best to struggle through the hot spots which, by now were becoming few and far between, the late afternoon light however, was magical.

Buck Pike from Brown Pike.

Coniston Old Man from Brown Pike.

Looking down on Blind Tarn and The Cove with Coniston Water in the distance.
Time to continue along the ridge towards Buck Pike.

Blind Tarn, Brown Pike, Walna Scar and White Maiden from the ascent of Buck Pike.
A second couple is passed and Hi's are exchanged, it's notably much cooler by now due to a large amount of cloud cover which seems to be getting darker, and denser by the minute.

Dow Crag is just up ahead.
With much of the Scafell range hovering below cloud in the distance.

Goats Water and Coniston Old Man.
I decided to drop down from the ridge in between Easy Buttress and the South Rake if only to allow the cloud cover to pass and take shelter from the wind, afterall those clouds were hurtling across the sky at some pace.

Sat sheltering from the strong gusts and winds with a view of 'A and B Buttresses' Goats Hawse, Great How Crags and Swirl How beyond.
If anything the skies are getting cloudier and darker so after ten to fifteen minutes I got up and steered myself back onto the ridge and into the winds firing line. The promise of a blue sky walk was quickly fading.

Dow Crag summit seen over the head of Great Gully.

Looking back on Buck Pike, Walna Scar and White Maiden from the head of Great Gully.
Time for the quick scramble onto Dow Crag summit.

Grey Friar, Great Carrs, Swirl How and Great How Crags from Dow Crag summit.
Sadly no time to take in the views,,,or lack of them! the wind is making things incredibly difficult to stay upright so as quickly as I summit, it was time to leave.

But as far as dramatics go...
The Scafells don't disappoint.

Looking West towards Harter Fell (Eskdale)
Looking very moody in the late afternoon light.

Descending towards Goats Hawse.
It's strange how a forecast goes against you, at one moment the fells look and feel alive even at this time of day well over a dozen people had been stood on the summit of Coniston Old Man and now everyone has gone and the place is starting to feel pretty lonely.

Descending Goats Hawse with views of Dow Crag Buttresses.

By the time I had descended onto Goats Hawse the wind was howling over the top of the Col from where I'll start my descent back to Goats Water, it was probably the strongest gust I'd felt all afternoon to an extent where it felt I could have leaned forward into the wind without falling over. With eyes streaming again I quickly made the descent not stopping until Goats Water was reached when I was treated to a sharp and heavy shower.

It's now time to pay another visit to a special four legged Lakeland icon.

Charmer's Grave.

On 23rd March 1911 Charmer, a Foxhound from the Coniston Foxhounds along with her pack chased a Fox into Dow Crag 'A Buttress' many of the hounds became crag fast and the hunt left them to it knowing they would soon clear themselves free, all of whom did with the exception of Charmer who could be heard baying through the night and well into the next morning when a local shepherd tending to his flock on the lower sloped heard her cries.

A rescue party was formed amongst the quarry men many of whom are climbers who located Charmer on the 'Gordon and Craig route of A Buttress' It is claimed that Charmer was hungry and still crag fast and was starting to get excited 'frisking about on the ledge' when the search party located her which caused her to miss her footings resulting in Charmer somersaulting twice almost landing at the search parties feet, Charmer died instantly from a broken neck.

Charmer's grave has been uprooted on number of occasions by visitors who saw nothing sacred in the stone sometimes tossing it aside.

The stone now lies in an undisclosed location.

Back at Fell Gate 18:00pm

I hadn't passed one person as I took in the mile or so back to Fell Gate which was done with a strong wind behind me. Boo Tarn was reached which is starting to resemble a reed bed rather than a body of water, I fear soon it will be lost altogether. The roofs of the cars started to appear as I left Boo Tarn behind, amongst them, the odd camper van. The wind had subsided slightly but its presence was still felt all the way back to the car, to my left, cloud has started to gather over the summit of Old Man lowering substantially as far as Bursting Stone quarry in places. It's starting to feel much later than it is which can only be put down to the cloud cover and loss of light.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Lakeland fells had seen the last of any sunshine and are preparing for a stormy night ahead but after thirty minutes of taking this photo I drove through Torver and caught Dow Crag through my rear view mirror glowing under perfect evening sunlight.


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