|Distance:||10.3 km or 6.4 miles|
|Ascent:||743m or 2438ft|
As Sunday's weather forecast promised lengthy sunny periods, I decided on a walk to Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man. Two peaks that I haven't visited in a good number of years. At just 6.4 miles, this was a fairly short walk, with intentions of finding and photographing Charmer's Gravestone (see footnote below), and climbing South Rake on Dow Crag.
Starting at Walna Scar parking area, I followed the Walna Scar Road towards Torver Bridge, until a point some 100 yards past the second "Rock Door", where I took the path rightwards, into "The Cove". Before reaching Goat's Water, having spent a few minutes looking, I was pleased to find Charmer's Gravestone, intact, and more-or-less where I'd expected it to be from the subtle clues I'd gleaned from previously seen photos. From Goat's Water, I followed the faint climber's track up the steep scree slope to the foot of Dow Crag's main rockface, before turning leftwards across Great Gully's imposing entrance, to make my way into the lesser confines of South Rake.
To be perfectly honest, having now scrambled up it, I can't give South Rake much of a glowing recommendation. - Continuously steep, filled with loose boulders-stones-gravel, and sections of wet and greasy rock to contend with. Any fall or slip would almost certainly prove injurious - or worse! As a way of achieving Dow Crag summit, it definitely keeps the mind strongly focussed on the job in hand. - However, in full winter conditions, with crampons and ice axe, it might be an altogether more pleasant proposition!
I stopped for lunch near Dow Crag summit, taking in the spectacular vista of the Scafell range, panoramic views across Morecambe Bay to the hills of North Wales, and, on this occasion, a clearer than usual view of the Isle of Man. Then it was onwards to Goat's Water Hause, and up to Coniston Old Man, where there must have been at least fifty people milling around. A few quick photos from the summit, before descending by the Low Water path, - passing through the always impressive remains of the abandoned quarry workings and levels, and then taking the right hand fork in the path leading directly back to the Walna Scar parking area. - Another great day in the Lakes!
Footnote: Charmer's Gravestone is an iconic artefact amongst Lakeland's fell-walking fraternity. A simple piece of rock, roughly carved with the words "CHARMER 1911", in tribute from its owner, to a foxhound which became cragfast on Dow Crag, before falling and dying from its injuries. Having previously been subject to the vandalism of uprooting and throwing aside, it was rediscovered some years ago, and re-erected at the position where it rests today. (Unfortunately, the stone appears to be slowly sinking into the boggy ground upon which it sits, and only the letters CHAR and digits 19 can now be seen). Since its precise original location had been lost, the stone no longer marks the actual final resting place of Charmer, but nevertheless, deserves to be treated with respect. Accordingly, its exact whereabouts is never openly disclosed, but it can be found by determined folks willing to spend a few minutes looking. I had not previously seen it, but was able to find it from details visible in published photographs. However, in keeping with time honoured tradition, I have deliberately put the accompanying photo out of sequence, and have amended the GPX track to anonymise the specific location.
GPX track of the walk: -
Charmer's Gravestone: -
Looking along Walna Scar Road, to Brown Pike and Buck Pike: -
The second "rock door" on Walna Scar Road, with Brown Pike beyond: -
Brown Pike, framed by the "rock door": -
Approaching Dow Crag: -
Dow Crag: -
Impressive buttresses and Gullies of Dow Crag: -
Looking up from the foot of South Rake: -
Goat's Water and Coniston Old Man from the top of South Rake: -
The Isle of Man, taken from summit of Dow Crag: -
The Scafell range, taken from summit of Dow Crag: -
Dow Crag, taken on the way up from Goat's Hause to Coniston Old Man. South Rake is at the left hand side in this photograph: -
Looking towards Coniston Village and Coniston Water, from the triangulation pillar at Coniston Old Man summit: -
Dow Crag to the Isle of Man (just visible on the horizon)! - from Coniston Old Man summit plateau: -
Looking down to Low Water, with Levers Water beyond: -
Abandoned quarry workings: -
A rusting pylon at the abandoned quarry workings: -
Abandoned quarry buildings: -
The path back down to Walna Scar parking area, with Coniston Water beyond: -