Brown Pike, White Pike & White Maiden from Fell Gate

5th December 2021

The forecast had been for a dry but very windy day on the fells which I confirmed the moment I left Brown Pike on my hands and knees due to the Gale Force winds I experienced on the summit. Although I abandoned the first walk after my fathers death todays walk makes it three out of three abandoned consecutive walks and its starting to feel a bit personal.

Abandoning a walk happens and although it's always the safest thing to do it doesn't make the decision any easier to swallow. The good news was just like last week I was able to salvage the walk taking in White Pike and White Maiden from the top of Walna Scar where I was met with equally ferocious winds and a savage windchill of -8°C All was not lost because I was able to witness the brilliant angels wings over Morecambe Bay even if I couldn't feel one side of my face.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells

Ascent: 1,598 Feet - 487 Metres
Visiting: 3, Brown Pike - White Pike - White Maiden
Weather: A Bright Start Soon Turning Overcast With Gale Force Winds Across The Summits - Max Wind Speed 57mph Highs of 2°C Lows of -3°C
Parking: Fell Gate, Walna Scar Road
Area: Southern
Miles: 5.4
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 3 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Fell Gate - Boo Tarn - Cove Bridge - Top of Walna Scar Road - Brown Pike - Top of Walna Scar Road - Walna Scar - White Pike - White Maiden - Top of Walna Scar Road - Cove Bridge - Fell Gate

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA21 8HQ
Grid Reference: SD 289 197
Notes: The car park at Fell Gate is very popular all season around and therefore can fill up quite quickly especially throughout the Summer, my best advice is to arrive early although I have been 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 Hote just outside of Coniston. Follow the post code 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. Updated 06/11/2020 - Fell Gate is now a Pay and Display car park. As of December 2021 parkings charges are £4.00 for 4hrs or £8.00 for upto 8hrs.


Map and Photo Gallery


Dawn views beyond The Bell towards Brim Fell, Raven Tor, Swirl How and Wetherlam from Fell Gate 08:15am 2°C
Today was the first time I'd parked at Fell Gate since parking charges were introduced around November last year and after seeing that the car park was in a worse state than ever I begrudged emptying eight pound coins into the parking meter.

The gate to the car park had been left open which also slightly annoyed me so after passing through I closed it behind me only for the next car to enter the car park to leave it open followed by the next car a few minutes later, a third car entered the car park who's passenger braved the wind to close the gate. All is well again.

I parked close to the gate and decided to wait a few minutes whilst listening to the wind which was bending the grass almost horizontal. The forecast said it would be windy, perhaps 15-20mph at valley level rising between 40-50mph at 600m but it was easily bordering mid twenties here at valley level. It was the type of kit up where my tailgate rattled against the gust and at one point I feared for the glass in my rear screen. Opening doors meant using two hands, one to hold the door so the wind didn't take it and the other to pull the handle.

i knew already that my walk might be in jeopardy.

Winter sun rising into clouded skies.
After last week I wasn't taking any chances so I kit up in full winter kit not forgetting to pack my crampons. The wind howled down Walna Scar as I pass Boo Tarn where I left the path briefly to take this photo.

What a difference a little sunshine makes.
I was treated to a sunlit view of the ridge I'd be walking starting with Brown Pike over on the left, Buck Pike centre and Dow Crag seen right. Even though it was blowing a hoolie and I kept having to fix my hat the sunshine made me forget about the windchill, for now that is.

Brown Pike from Cove Bridge.
I can't pass over Cove Bridge without uttering the immortal words of the late Harry Griffin "How many times have I sheltered under the arch of Cove Bridge, eating damp sandwiches in the rain"

Buck Pike and Dow Crag seen beyond The Cove.
The wind speed picked up as I passed The Cove leaving me fully exposed to a southern gale which I had to fight against as the slope started to steepen. I spot two guys behind me who are closing in with a solo walker on their tail. It's going to be interesting to see who will brave the ridge and who doesn't.

Looking back on Coniston Old Man.
With Goat's Hawse seen lower left.

Dow Crag and Goat's Hawse.
It was around this point that my walking poles were trying to take off with my hands still in them!

The sun continues to rise.
But it won't be long untill it passes behind that huge cloud so I enjoy the sunlight while I can.

I think that's the last of the sunshine for now.
As it disappears behind the cloud leaving an array of angels torches over Coniston Water.

You don't mind the effect the wind is having on you...
...when the views are as good as this.

Brown Pike from the top of Walna Scar Road.
The crags of Brown Pike offered a little shelter as I passed over the snow line at approximately 1,800ft ABSL where any flowing water had frozen but thankfully, avoidable.

The two guys were still on my tail who by now had been passed by the solo walker who turned out to be a local woman from Torver. If I set off now she'd only end up over taking me so I hang on a minute or so until she passes. We may not have spoken of it but it's decision time for all of us.

Looking back over Walna Scar Road towards Walna Scar, White Maiden, White Pike, Caw Black Combe, Buckbarrow and Whitfell.
There was some protection from the wind as I ascended Brown Pike from the top of Walna Scar Road but the closer I got to the summit the louder the raw became. The solo walker had just crested the summit and by now was out of sight "she must have gone on I muttered to myself" then minutes later she re-appeared saying "I'm not heavy enough to keep my feet on the ground" she looked generally concerned as I replied "I'll give it a go" By now I was at the summit shoulder with the summit just yards away.

Buck Pike from Brown Pike.
The wind was enough to put the fear of god into me and I hadn't reached the summit shelter where I was aiming for. With tricky conditions underfoot I wanted to collect myself before turning around. A decision that had already been made for me. I bent down in the snow making sure my head dipped below the parapet of the shelter wall and took this photo without using the camera's view finder, the wind was so powerful I dared kneel up. My anemometer was in my pocket which I took out to take a reading, using my right hand I lifted my arm above the shelter rocks and watched the display hit 57, then 53 settling at 48.7mph Normally, even in windy conditions I can see the figures climb, today it shot straight to 57mph.

The path back down to Walna Scar lay literally yards away but I couldn't stand up with the wind wanting to take me so I grabbed both my walking poles in my right hand and semi crawled towards the top of the path where the wind took my hat and tossed over the west side of the summit, this was no ordinary hat, it was my sons new Napajiri hat that I'd borrowed and now it's probably floating over Walney Island.

Having crawled around six to eight paces I used my poles to stand up and began an instant descent, by now the solo woman walker was passing the two guys who after speaking to her, began their own descent, wise choice I thought. About twenty metres into the descent I decided to leave the path just in case my hat had landed close by and would you believe it was flapping there waiting to take off again in the heather "no no no stay there" as I ran towards it. The hat didn't move and after dusting the snow off it I lowered it down over some brutally cold ears.


Heading towards White Pike with White Maiden seen left.
The two guys looked like they were weighing up their options at the top of Walna Scar Road before heading up onto Walna Scar then White Maiden. As they were heading for White Maiden first I continued onto White Pike further along the ridge. You'd have thought the wind would have been easier along here but they were just as ferocious.

Grey Friar, Swirl How, Dow Crag, Buck Pike and Brown Pike from White Pike summit.
The wind didn't let off at all in fact I recorded a wind speed of 48mph between Walna Scar summit and White Maiden. Exposed skin was turning raw and very painful.

The view towards Harter Fell (Eskdale) and the Scafells from White Pike.
Don't let the blue skies fool you it was pretty brutal up here this morning.

But the view south...
...never failed to impress.

Sun spots over Morecambe Bay.

Grey Friar, Swirl How, Dow Crag, Buck Pike, Brown Pike and Coniston Old Man from White Maiden summit.
The windchill stung like hell walking between White Pike and White Maiden as my teeth and left side of my face started to feel the affects of the windchill. I thought about sheltering behind the summit wall but it was only putting off the inevitable!

Grey Friar, Swirl How, Dow Crag, Buck Pike, Brown Pike and Coniston Old Man from White Maiden.
A faint path weaves its way back to Walna Scar seen just beyond the two pools.

Lenticular cloud above Eskdale.
Quite a few people who have seen this photo said it looked scary - I tended to agree wondering was a bolt of lightening going to shoot out or was Will Smith going to fly straight into the centre of it!

Golden Morecambe Bay.

Morecambe Bay.

Morecambe Bay.
With White Maiden behind me I passed back over Walna Scar from where I spotted two guys ascending from the Seathwaite side of the Walna Scar Road. We met at the top of the pass and I asked them of their route. The two guys were local and were heading across the Dow Crag ridge and although the winds were set to ease by midday I still passed on my experience at the summit and wished them well, for me Brown Pike had picked me up and spat me out and I'll return another day.

I left the two and began the descent back down Walna Scar passing the odd walker heading the opposite way. By the time I reached The Cove the wind wasn't trying to wrestle my walking poles out of my hands but it was still strong all the same. Ice had turned to flowing water and the promise of a sunny day never really materialised as I walked back to my car when I passed the solo woman walker who had chosen to do a circular of Coppermines before heading back down to Torver.


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