Coniston Fells Wildcamping – Part 2 – Twist and Shout

Posted by @ 12:02 am on Thursday 30th April, 2009.

The night was mild with just the odd flap of the tent, nothing to worry about. We woke at 05:15 to find the skies almost clear, so I went for a stroll to take a few pics as the sun worked its way from behind the shoulder of The Old Man:

 

A well-concealed wildcamping tent 🙂

 

You can't see it from here either, can you?

 

OK, let's make it a tad easier for you

 

The view sunwards

 

Breakfast was a quick and simple affair, and then it was time to strike camp and to filter sufficient tarn-water for the rest of the day, there being precious little available on our chosen route.

 

Water: gathering, not depositing

 

We retraced the short drop back to the Road and then continued up the river of stones to the col between Walna Scar and Brown Pike, passing by one of the old stone shelters:

 

Stone hut below Brown Pike

 

Turning right at this crossroads, we walked up the zigzags into a stiffening breeze, which was cooling us well in the bright sunshine. A few fellrunners were about, but no other walkers had been seen yet. A few minutes later we were at the top and exposed to the full force of the wind as it ripped up the sunward slopes and over the ridge, so we had a breather in the shelter right next to the summit-cairn:

 

The shelter atop Brown Pike

 

From there, we could see the simple short ridge-walk to Buck Pike, the next top on the ridge:

 

The ridge to Buck Pike

 

and there was a good view of The Old Man across The Cove:

 

The Old Man

 

After a snack we set off along the ridge, passing this striking view down towards Blind Tarn and our vacated pitch:

 

Looking down on Blind Tarn from the ridge

 

The further we walked, the stronger the wind became. Each time we passed the top of an open gully we were blown sideways, the funnelled air roaring through the gaps at incredible speeds and playing curious deep tones as it whistled between the crags. At times the wind set up resonances in the rocks, making them hum in an eerie harmony. Rock music indeed!

We made our way over the top of Buck Pike...

 

Looking back to the top of Buck Pike

 

and headed for the first Wainwright of the day, Dow Crag:

 

Dow Crag from Buck Pike

 

The ridge-path passes the tops of several gullies and the view down each was impressive. It was hard to take pics, though, as the wind was too strong to stand steadily at the edges. I managed just the one pic after crawling to the edge on all fours:

 

A view of part of Goat's Water, looking down Easy Gully

 

The summit rocks of Dow Crag were incredibly windy due to their exposed position - this was three-point-contact walking, and it was a dicey affair actually reaching the top-most rocks, which are right on the edge of the cliff, leaving no room for a cairn:

 

The very top of Dow Crag

 

The view down to the glistening surface of Goat's Water was breathtaking, or it would have been had the wind not already stolen our breath away and scattered it behind us as we peered over the edge. Taking a pic of the view was impossible - I couldn't hold the camera still enough with just one hand, and I wasn't about to allow my other to let go of terra firma. Instead, we retired to the lee of the summit rocks for some shelter and to confirm our intended route, and had to be content with the view of the ridge back to the Walna Scar Pass and beyond:

 

Looking back from Dow Crag - a fine ridge

 

The next part of the plan was to drop down to Goat's Hause and then make for Swirl How and its satellite fells via Brim Fell. We were undecided as to whether to include the summit of the Old Man, but seeing as we'd been there before, we chose to give it a miss.

We donned the packs again and headed for the Hause, with our next three objectives (Grey Friar, Great Carrs and Swirl How) in view before us. I was keeping well away from the edge, out of the worst of the wind, but at a narrow place I was uprooted by a vicious prolonged blast which twisted me around in a most peculiar way. I heard the sound of my lumbar region giving way above the noise of the rushing air, and it hurt like hell. I'm not given to shouting in pain, but this was bad.

I knew I was screwed.

The trip was over, I wasn't going to be able to do any more upping and now it was a matter of getting home without causing further damage. We took our time finding somewhere sheltered to sit and while I tried to recover we rehydrated ourselves and planned our retreat. Common-sense dictated that we should regain the car via the path alongside Goat's Water, through The Cove and back to the WSR at the previous day's decision-point. As we sat there, we were approached by a member of the one of the MRTs who was searching for a man who had been reported as having had a heart-attack near Blind Tarn. We gave as much info as possible about the folk that we had met since leaving there, then he carried on up to the top at a cracking pace. A few minutes later the SAR helicopter was hovering above the ridge somewhere near Brown Pike:

 

The SAR helicopter heading past Dow Crag towards Brown Pike

 

We got some great views from the Hause before dropping down the path to the Water:

 

Grey Friar, Great Carrs and Swirl How from Goat's Hause

 

Dow Crag towering above Goat's Water

 

Goat's Water and the path to The Cove

 

Each step down the path was designed to make me wince, and each one did. Eventually we dropped out of the worst of the wind and had lunch behind some large rocks just before the waterside section of the path began. As we ate, the sunlight disappeared and was replaced by dark cloud - rain was heading our way. We made our way out of The Cove as the heavens opened and the thunder started to boom around the fells. Most of the activity was over Dow Crag and The Old Man, and I'm sure that those summits had a few lightning-strikes during that hour - I was glad that we weren't still up there. The rain stopped as we passed Boo Tarn, and by the time we reached the car-park the clouds had cleared to allow the sun to start roasting us again.

We sat in the car, dejected, trying to salvage something from the wreckage of the weekend. In circumstances like these, there's only one thing to do...

To be continued.

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14 Responses to “Coniston Fells Wildcamping – Part 2 – Twist and Shout”

  1. GeoffC says:

    Ouch!.
    A gust coming in on that edge path would make life interesting in places, and a twist in the lower back would be agonizing, I know what you mean when you instantly realise that's it for the trip and it's a case of damage mitigation.
    Anyway a good camp and good photos, wishing you well in your recovery.

  2. Phil says:

    Back pain is the very pits at home - out on the hill... 🙁 hope you get get better soon. Thanks for sharing a real connoisseur's wildcamp spot, now noted for a future daunder in the Lakes.

  3. john hee says:

    If you thought the winds were strong, then Swirl How would have been very difficult -it really catchs it.

    In some ways the back pain may have been of some little benefit. Hope it's a short term injury rather than anything really naughty

  4. BG! says:

    Cheers for all the get-well-soons, folks.

    Originally Posted By Duncan/Aktoman
    Thanks

    For what? For not mentioning the Yukon? :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  5. scott says:

    😳

    Get well soon. I was too busy admiring your photies to notice the bit where you said you'd hurt yourself.

    In my defence, I read a lot of picture books.

    🙁

  6. I too did that, Scott. I thanked BG! (for his photos), but failed to pick up on the more detailed text in my rush to get other things done tonight. And then the comments started to come in wishing him well. Oops.

  7. BG! says:

    Originally Posted By scott
    It's maybe a Scottish thing.

    😀

    That's the way our P.M. works, so you're probably correct.

    😐

  8. Wonderful wild camping spot. Lovely photos to illustrate you walking route.

    I hope your back recovers quickly. I know how debilitating back pain can be.

  9. LotC says:

    Nice images, nice trip, nice shed.

    Cya when I get back.

    😀

  10. BG! says:

    @LotC - What's Swedish for "it's my round"? 😈

    Have a good time, Steve.

  11. Mark says:

    Fabulous photos. Really enjoyed your account. I think that a camp by Blind tarn before the advent of kids might just be my last wild camp, excluding a couple of bivvies in the Alps. All a long time ago now. Sorry to hear that your trip was cut short by a weather induced injury.

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