Friday, August 17, 2012

Fixing Coniston again

Walna Scar car park, lots of interesting maneuvers going on here 
One of the aims of my blog is to record my progress on completing the Wainwrights.  I had already done a bit of fell walking before I decided to 'do' the Wainwrights and one of the slight regrets I have is that I didn't record the fells I did before.
The Coniston fells are full of old mineshafts and workings

Coniston was one of the first fells that I did.  I remember my wife and I electing to eat our lunch before doing any climbing so that our backpacks would be lighter.  I also remember my wife suggesting that we had gone high enough and questioning whether you had to go to the top to technically 'bag' a fell.  

Although I didn't record that first ascent, I have actually been up the old man twice recently.  The latest was with Fix the Fells on a drain run.  This means that I didn't just go up The Old Man of Coniston, I went up it with a spade and fixed it!

There are a few factors which mean that Coniston needs a lot of fixing.  First of all, it is a popular fell, and quite rightly so, it's a really nice walk with great views over the coast and towards the Scafells as well as over Coniston lake.  All this walking means plenty of wear and tear which means it needs regular maintenance.

Dow Crag with Harter Fell behind on the right
 Another factor is that the fells around here have been extensively mined.  This means that there is a lot of spoil, or loose slate, which with a combination of weather and people walking over it, washes down into the drains.  If these drains are not cleared, then water and loose scree choose another route, usually down the path, and this can lead to further erosion.

We had arranged to meet at the Fix the Fells shed in Coniston.  After driving up and down, what I later worked out to be the wrong road, I decided to give up and head to the Walna Scar car park, hoping that the others would pick up some tools for me.  It was a good idea to get to the car park because it gets busy and parking choices are sub optimal if you arrive after about 9am.

large summit cairn on The Old Man
Luckily, the others had brought me a spade and, once they had found parking places, we set off along the track.

As usual, there were a lovely group of volunteers out.  I'm getting to know the regular faces now.

We gradually worked our way up and then decided that, as we had come this far, we might as well continue to the top where we had lunch.

Lots of people at the top as usual.  There was a fell race going on and I had no idea which one (I usually keep a track of fell races because I pretend that I might enter one some day).

runner heading north from the summit
I later found out that it was the Turner Landscape Fell Race which seems like a brilliant run for a good cause.  We overheard some walkers telling a runner that she was doing really well to which she replied, "No I'm not, I'm dead last!"

The weather had been really warm with little wind all day.  Of course once on top, the wind got up.

Finishing off our lunch, we decided to head down via Goat's Water, which would apparently allow us to claim two paths.

Dow Crag - beautiful
I spent a lot of the walk looking at climbers on Dow Crag as well as admiring the beauty of the cliff face and the clarity and inviting nature of Goat's Water.

Sure enough, when we got to the end, we saw some people swimming in Goat's Water.  I had been thinking it looked nice for a wetsuit swim.  A Goat's Water crossing would be a good goal to tick off on my way to total wild swim mastery.

Just along from here someone asked if we had buried someone on the fell.  It's not unusual to get sarky comments when you are in a group of people carrying spades and I really don't care but we have heard them all before, ranging from, "Where's Snow White" to people asking if we are part of a prison work party (actually, that last one may be in good faith).

swimmers - brrr!
route taken

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