Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Thursday 5 November 2009

Tuesday 3 November 2009 – A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 11 – Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man

During her stay last week, Susan unearthed from a pile of unread books Bill Birkett’s tome entitled ‘Great British Ridge Walks’.

I had promised support for PW’s Wainwright bagging expedition today, so ‘Lakes’ was inked in the diary.  Although that attempt had been aborted I took the opportunity to enjoy a sunny day out and headed off up the M6 in driving rain.

‘If it’s raining now, the sun will shine later’ I told myself.

The road to Torver was flooded.  I tore on regardless.  ‘Clank, clank’ went the car.  I’m not mechanically minded, but a cursory glance was enough to ascertain that the front of the large tray that protects the underside of the engine had become detached and was merrily scooping bits of road and gallons of water up into the engine compartment.

“Hello Mr Myers, I have a problem.”

…I had discovered that Mr Myers has a small garage just off the Walna Scar Road. 

Lucky me.  They dropped everything and set to work on the problem.

“First time it’s ever broken down” I moaned, about Sue’s eight year old motor.

“It hasn’t broken down” muttered the mechanic from the depths of his pit.  “A bit has fallen off, that’s all.”

Forty five minutes later, the boss went down to check the handiwork, shook the offending tray a few times and pronounced it secure for the time being – certainly as secure as they could make it.

“What’s the damage, then?”  I had a £20 note at the ready.

“How about £10”, said Mr Myers, thoughtfully.  He had earlier assured me that the recession had not yet reached Coniston, so “How about £5” I joked.

“Ok”, said the boss, thinking I was being serious.

We settled for £15, which gave us each, in effect, a £5 profit on the transaction.

If you are going to break down, dear reader, I commend you to do so here.

[Interestingly, the ‘dashboard rattle’ that has plagued the car for years, also seems to have miraculously – I hesitate to say ‘vanished’ -subsided.]

Whilst ensconced in the garage, I noticed the lashing rain start to wear itself out, and by the time I set off from the end of the Walna Scar Road at 9.30 it was completely exhausted, with the sun now shining brightly on the copper coloured bracken, and the cloud having lifted off Dow Crag and The Old Man.

Dow Crag and The Old Man of Coniston from the Walna Scar Road

Low black clouds provided a threatening looking canopy to the view across to Morecambe Bay, but these had passed me by and were of no practical consequence.

Coniston Water and Morecambe Bay

The path was deserted.  Becks crashed down the hillside to join thundering rivers.  Ravens hovered menacingly as I negotiated slippery rocks to reach the summit of Brown Pike, where a hat and gloves were donned for the first time in months.

On Brown Pike summit, with Buck Pike and The OMofC

The onward path to Dow Crag was enjoyable, with excellent views.  The only annoyances were the constantly slippery rocks and the bleeping of the ‘phone which kept losing its signal then waking up to welcome me to the Isle of Man!

The summit of The Old Man of Coniston was deserted when I reached it at noon, but there were around 30 folk slogging their way up the ‘tourist route’, many appearing to be on outdoors training courses.

Coniston village from The Old Man of Coniston

I noticed a man wearing a fetching cowboy hat slowly ascending.  I wonder whether he or anyone else spotted the Ghostly Prisoner of Colt Crag Mine as they passed through a wide area of old quarries and mine workings.

The ghostly mine entrance

It was a day of rainbows, apart from the duration of the walk, when the showers passed me by.  Just as I reached the car at 1pm there were a few spots, and this rainbow provided the backdrop to my drive back down to Coniston.

A view from the car park at the end of the Walna Scar tarmac

Are those the Ghosts of Christmas Future peering out at me from the windows of the Black Bull?

The Black Bull Hotel sported some unexpected residents

Here’s today’s route – an enjoyable 10 km, with 780 metres ascent, taking 3.5 hours including tea and lunch breaks.

Today's route - 10 km, 780 metres ascent, 3.5 hours 
It’s walk 11, on page 48 of this excellent volume (see below), which expands considerably on the history of the mines (they date from the 1560’s to the present day, employed over 600 men at the height of their activity in 1855, and extend up to 500 metres below the surface), and also on the climbing exploits of one O G (only genuine?) Jones.

I’m trying to find a copy of the out of print book for Susan, and spent some of the afternoon scouring the shops of Coniston and Ambleside accordingly.  Fred Houldsworth was helpful, but despite finding the chap who had sold off the last 200 copies …”you could get it anywhere in Ambleside for a tenner up to last year” he told me, I couldn’t track one down.  They have all gone.  Does anyone have a spare copy for sale?


The photos above are just a sample of those taken – I’ve uploaded 25 images, and a bit more commentary, here, for anyone with a spare couple of minutes.

Finally, I’m aware that the blog entries have ‘backed up’.  Sorry about that, I’ll catch up, albeit somewhat out of order, over the next few days.


Anonymous said...

It sounds as though you had a great day! I'm v. sorry not to have been able to meet you there. Sounds like I should have taken my blasted car to Conniston to get it fixed!

That book's on Amazon, btw, for about £12.50, and cheaper still if you go with some of the private vendors.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks PW. Susan had tried in vain on the internet, hence me scouring the bookshops after my short but most enjoyable walk. I'll check it out.

Mike Knipe said...

I don't remember going in that hole. Was I there?

(Holes is dangerous boys and girls, incidentally)

Phreerunner said...

Strange, Mike, you just popped up in the blog picture - maybe your ghostly alter ego - you seem to have disappeared back down the hole by the time I took the slide show picture.

Great British Ridge Walks is indeed widely available on the second hand market. I think Susan must have just looked on Amazon, where it is 'out of stock'.

Alan Sloman said...

What a good day! Nice to see someone ootnaboot!

Phreerunner said...

Funny, Alan, I could have sworn you were trying to lure me into the Black Bull, as I wandered past.

Alan Sloman said...

Ah - so I see!


What a splendid idea. Very clever too...

Pubs? Don't do them, myself. Oh no.. Well, only to be sociable.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a grand day out!
I have a copy of that book somewhere....I shall have to look it out.
All the best.

Louise said...

Lovely part of the world and some cracking photos there. Cars can make things a little interesting. Ours once made for a very expensive turkey, but that's a whole other story!

Alan Sloman said...

You can't just stop the story like that!


Phreerunner said...

I agree.
Come on Louise. Spit it out!

Louise said...

You want to know about the turkey do you? You sure?


David was away for a couple of months at the end of the year, about five years ago. It was the run up to Christmas, he was due back 19th Dec., but I've learnt not to rely on these things. I couldn't face Christmas food shopping with four children in tow, it was too long before Christmas when they broke up from school so I couldn't go before, so I ordered online incase he wasn't back in time.

(You did ask...)

Luckily, he made it, because Christmas Eve Tesco delivered my shopping, with a substitution for the turkey of forty, cooked, pork cocktail sausages. What else you might ask, to go with the stuffing, chipolatas, etc.

(Still with me?)

I sat on the bathroom floor in tears, having rejected the sausages and my knight in shining armour set off to find a turkey. None in Forres, none in Elgin, so he went to the Big Tesco at Inverness. Success! A turkey, organic, free range, bronze, everything you could want from a turkey. No, that wasn't why it was expensive. It was the car, remember.

So, 3 miles to Forres, 20 miles Forres to Elgin and back, 60 round trip to Inverness.

Oh, and then the wheel bearing went on the way home.

So, the most expensive turkey we've ever eaten.

You did ask. Perhaps you had to be there. Hey! You there! Stop snoring at the back!!

Phreerunner said...

Thank you Louise.
Glad you got that off your chest.
I also have a Xmas Turkey (or more significantly a lack thereof) experience, but it's too long a story... go into at this time of night...

Martin Rye said...

Great walk, great photos, great book and you spent time with some great folks. Good day indeed.