Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Swirl How, Great Carrs and Grey Friar
Walk Date – 23rd May 2015
Distance – 12.1 miles
Weather – dry and sunny, with a breezy north westerly
The weather over the last 19 days has been dry but very cold due to the strong north-westerly winds which have been prevalent across the country. The Met. Office attributed this to the southerly position of the Jet Stream which allowed cold winds in from the north. Not wanting to be blown over or frozen stiff whilst out on a walk we haven’t been out walking since 4th May. However, the forecast for today promised lighter winds than of late and a dry sunny spell so we drove over to Coniston for a walk over the Coniston Fells.
From the car park area beside the Walna Scar Road this is the view of Coniston Old Man.
Also from the car park is this view looking over towards Wetherlam.
Alongside the path is Boo Tarn, or what’s left of it now that is almost choked by reeds.
Just by Boo Tarn we turn off the Walna Scar Road to take the footpath up to Coniston Old Man.
We’ve gained a bit of height now so we can look across the Walna Scar Road to Coniston Water. The tarmac road with the hairpin bends isn’t the path, its used by lorries to access the quarry, which is just a little higher up. Going down there with a lorry full of slate must be a bit of a white knuckle ride, especially in winter.
The footpath takes us alongside Booth How.
Continuing upwards having rounded Booth How.
The spoil heaps at Bursting Stone quarry and Coniston Water over on the right.
The Walna Scar Road below us continues on below Brown Pike on the right.
Looking across the cove to Brown Pike, Buck Pike and Dow Crag.
Looking over the Bursting Stone quarry spoil heaps to Coniston and Coniston Water.
Coniston Water, its so long there’s no hope of getting the whole of it in the photo.
Neatly weathered rocks alongside the footpath, somewhat reminiscent of a sliced loaf I thought.
Buck Pike, on the left, and Dow Crag, on the right, come into view as we reach the ridge of Coniston Old Man.
A close up of Dow Crag with several people already up there.
Zooming out again to show the Dow Crag ridge.
Zooming in again for a close up of Blind Tarn below Brown Pike.
Dow Crag with Harter Fell behind over on the right.
The summit cairn on Coniston Old Man. It wasn’t quite as deserted as it seems but a little careful editing dealt with the extra heads and limbs.
From the summit a view of Coniston, Coniston Water and a glimpse of Windermere.
From the summit a view down to Low Water and just above it a part of Levers Water. The white path coming up from Low Water is the one most used by holiday makers and is always very busy. I prefer the path we have just used as it is quieter, is much more pleasant underfoot being grassy rather than stony, and it has better views than this one.
The trig point on Coniston Old Man, with a view of the Scafell range beyond.
Grey, craggy and been around for a long time. I’m talking about the summit cairn on The Old Man of Coniston of course.
Looking across to the Scafell range from the summit.
Also from the summit, Swirl How on the left and Wetherlam on the right with a part of Levers Water below it.
Another view of the Dow Crag ridge as we leave Coniston Old Man.
In the circle are a group of climbers, below them indicated by the arrow is a blue object. That’s what’s called a stretcher box and it contains rescue equipment ready just in case anything untoward happens.
Looking down to Low Water and the Coppermines Valley again as we walk across to Brim Fell.
Making our way across the plateau to Brim Fell.
Looking back at Coniston Old Man summit which is getting busier by the minute.
Brim Fell summit cairn which always reminds me of one of those old style woven beehives.
Brim Fell summit. It may look lovely and sunny but it wasn’t half chilly up here.
In the middleground, Grey Friar on the left and Swirl How on the right. Over on the left in the distance is the Scafell range.
Over on our left is Harter Fell, the Eskdale one.
Looking over to Wetherlam with some of the Eastern fells beyond it.
Wetherlam with Levers Water below it.
Looking ahead to Swirl How, the highest point on the ridge, and beyond it is Great Carrs.
We drop a short distance below the plateau and find a sheltered spot in which to have something to eat. Lunch with a view of Levers Water …..
….. after which its onwards to Swirl How.
To our left on the other side of the plateau is Seathwaite Tarn with Harter Fell over on the right.
To our right we have a view of Levers Water again, with Coniston Water beyond it.
A look back at Brim Fell and the route we have been following from it.
Getting closer to Swirl How summit …..
….. and from the summit a view of the path up to Wetherlam.
A close up of wreckage down below us which is from a Halifax bomber which crashed on Great Carrs in October 1944.
Another piece of the wreckage down on the lower slopes of Great Carrs. More about this later.
Swirl How summit and cairn. It was busy but I didn’t have to do any editing this time as everyone was sitting round the other side enjoying the view over Coniston.
There’s a grand view from Swirl How summit.
That’s the path going down from Swirl How leading over to Wetherlam. Its not for us today though, we’re going in another direction …..
….. which is over there. From Swirl How this is the view towards Great Carrs, the next fell we will walk across to, with the Scafells beyond. The plane wreckage is down below on the scree slopes.
Grey Friar and a little bit of Seathwaite Tarn on our left as we make our way across.
Red Tarn nestling at the foot of Pike O’ Blisco to the right.
Looking over to the Scafell range with Bowfell on the horizon on the extreme right.
Grey Friar with Harter Fell behind it as we make our way over to Great Carrs.
Its still chilly on Great Carrs summit so I keep my jacket on.
From Great Carrs there’s a good view back to Swirl How, to Brim Fell with Coniston Old Man just behind it, and then over on the right is Dow Crag.
The memorial to the crew is situated just below the summit of Great Carrs, along with some of the wreckage. I have added some information about the incident at the end of the page, see Note 1.
Memorial plaque to the crew of the Halifax bomber. There is also a story to this which again is at the end of the page, see Note 2
Another view of the memorial.
The Scafells. Scafell on the left, the dip on its right is Mickledore and to the right of the dip is Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak at 3210′.
One of the twin summits of Grey Friar, with the Scafells behind.
Looking across to Bowfell.
The other summit of Grey Friar.
From the summit a view over to Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag.
A mini Matterhorn on Grey Friar.
Dow Crag rearing over Seathwaite Tarn.
Brim Fell and Dow Crag as we cut across the lower slopes on our return leg.
Back at Brim Fell with Coniston Old Man, looking a lot less busy, beyond it.
Not a soul in sight as we return to the Old Man summit.
We couldn’t have taken this shot this morning. Looks like its turned nippy again as the jacket is back on.
Making our way down to Low Water on my least favourite path, not made any easier since huge bags of stones had been dropped on it in several places making the descent even more difficult to negotiate. I know they are there to repair the paths but why drop them directly onto the path? Its rough enough on the feet and legs without adding to it. When we reached Low Water we found a couple of teenagers taking a dip in the tarn. I wouldn’t have fancied it myself, the water is always cold and by now it was in shadow, and the wind was still blowing, they must have felt frozen. Rather them than me I thought.
The walk down from Low Water was uneventful and we soon reached the derelict buildings down at the old copper mines.
More derelict mine buildings, it always brings to mind those old western films and the places where the outlaws would hide away while the posse hunted around for them. Then, during the night, a horse would whinny, a twig would snap and John Wayne, gun at the ready, would appear and then the outlaws would be no more.
What are you going on about, just get on with the walk will you?
Almost back where we started so I take a look back along the valley we’ve just walked down.
And to finish, a view of The Bell in the centre, and behind it is Wetherlam and the surrounding fells, from the Walna Scar Road.
‘Halifax LL505 came to grief on Great Carrs in the Lake District on the night of 22nd October 1944 while the crew were undertaking a night navigation exercise flying from Topcliffe in Yorkshire. The crew; seven Canadians and one Scot, encountered very thick cloud whilst over the north-west of England, they became lost and had circled the district hoping the cloud would clear but this made them even more lost. The pilot then descended so the navigator could get a visual fix on the ground, but by this stage it was flying too low in the heart of the Lake District. The aircraft hit a sloping grass fellside near to the top of Great Carrs while flying in roughly from the west and sadly all on board were killed. A small part of the wreckage must have either caught fire near the crash site or was set on fire after the crash by the RAF team that were sent to clear the site because a large area shows signs of an intense fire. The site was inaccessable to large vehicles which were commonly used to clear larger pieces of wrecked aircraft so the belief is that the larger items were then pushed off the top of the mountain over a steep rock face into Broad Slack where much of it remains to this day.’ Extract from www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk
Family members and friends know all about my keen interest in genealogy and family history so they probably won’t be surprised that I began thinking about the men whose names are on the memorial, and wondering if they had any living relatives and who might not know about the memorial. I knew it would be difficult because all but one of the crew were Canadian, and the remaining member was from Scotland, and the Births, Deaths and Marriages records of both countries are not widely available on ancestry web sites. Apparently it is difficult enough to access records even if you are a Canadian and living in Canada since there’s plenty of bureaucracy to deal with to get even basic information, so my little quest looked a bit daunting to say the least. After a lot of research and to cut a very long story short, I had one small success in respect of Flying Officer J A Johnston and I eventually made contact with his niece (or perhaps great niece as I can’t recall which one it was now). She knew what had happened to him and knew that there was some sort of memorial to the crew somewhere in the area, and it must have been a bit of a surprise to get a message from me asking her if she was related to J A Johnston and if she was would she like me to send a photo of the memorial. I was a bit surprised too when she replied and confirmed that he was one of her relatives and that she would very much appreciate having a photo, which I duly sent to her. Its a long way from Canada but she did mention that she would like to visit the memorial site one day so I do hope she can make the trip one day and see it for herself. At least one relative knows that their family member has not been forgotten, and that every fell walker who stops beside it, however briefly, has them in their thoughts for a moment or two. Frustraingly though, I have made no further progress with regard to the other crew members but new records are always being put on line so I’ll keep on looking from time to time and maybe I’ll find other family members in due course.