The Coniston Fells – The Magnificent 7

This walk was another solo effort which turned into a much much longer traverse of what I am now aware is called the magnificent 7. Had I realised this before I had started I would probably looked more closely at the route I was doing.

The magnificent 7 covers 7 Wainwright peaks as well as some amazing scenery. They are easily completed in a round route in a single day, however the way I did it was a little more odd and therefore a bit challenging.

My initial intention was to cover The Old Man of Coniston, Brim Fell, Grey Friar, Great Carrs, Swirl How and drop to Wetherlam…in that order. It was not until I reached Grey Friar that I realised Dow Crag was also a Wainwright. With the weather being good I decided it would be good to do the route as planned, but with the added physical challenge of re-ascending Swirl How and traversing to the summit of Dow Crag via the side of the already achieved Brim Fell. It turned into an 8 hour 25km long figure 8 in a calf and consequently achilles pounding jaunt in the hills including ~1500m ascent. It definitely tested my legs.

The day started great I arrived in good time at the car park, for which I am told I cheated by not parking at the very bottom car park, however I am pretty glad I did not. I set off in the opposite direction of the crowds along Walna Scar Road, unfortunately I realised at this point my SD card was still in my PC at home… luckily my GPS has one, I inserted it into my camera and it read back 111 photos. As I do a lot of panoramas I take a lot of photos, so I just thought at least I have 111 and it’s better than nothing!

On starting my ascent past Goats Water I arrived promptly at the crossroads with The Old Man on my right and Dow Crag to me left. Walking further up and stopping just short of the summit of a crowded Old Man I could see straight down the valley toward Coniston itself. Low water lit very nicely in the morning sun and the trail of marching ants leading the way up the hill toward their day’s goal.

Old-man-of-coniston-low-water

From this beautiful outlook it was a quick trot to the top touch the summit cairn and off to Brim Fell. This is almost a blip in the landscape and sort of just seems to form a natural hump between Old Man and Swirl How. From Brim Fell I dropped down a little and swung round to the path taking me to Grey Friar. Again just below the summit offered me the best view of the surrounding valley, giving me a long off glimpse of Scafell Pike. Even more dramatic in its cloud covered cloak.

wrynose-pass-scafell-pik-o-blisco

Again up to touch the summit cairn and back down along the same path toward Great Carrs. This summit has history, and while I am not sure what made this a Wainwright yet (I haven’t read that part of my book yet), I have a feeling it must be to do with it having a World War 2 plane wreck on top of it. Given its proximity to Swirl How it doesn’t seem a likely candidate, however that said a climb from Prison Band up to Swirl How shows Great Carrs in all its majesty. There is not a lot left of the halifax bomber which crashed in WW2, however the cairn and cross will no doubt remain maintained for years to come.

great-carrs-halifax-bomber

To the right of the above photo Grey Friar can be seen and the left shows Dow Crag.

From here I wandered toward Swirl How, realising this would be the more challenging part of the day. I walked with speed down the rock strewn descent dropping from rock to rock passing people as I did, next on the list was Wetherlam. I didn’t really understand what this was going to have to offer on the Magnificent 7, despite not getting a shot at the top of this peak it had fantastic views out towards Windermere and was a very enjoyable summit all the same. Tracking back to where I just came down I had the decision of whether to carry on to do Dow Crag, which represented an enormous track back along the route I had just done, but it was the last of the 7 Wainwrights in this area! So I did, I went back up to the summit of Swirl How.

As I walked back toward Brim Fell I was amazed at how much the light had changed from earlier in the day, starting to warm up. I was also amazed at the lack of attention the hills received at this time of day. I may have to extend more hikes in future and I am now more excited than ever to get out with all my wild camping gear.

On approach to Brim Fell I managed to get the below shots which showed the scale of the land surrounding Goat’s Water.

brim-fell-old-man-dow-crag

From this vantage point you can make out the two dots in the foreground which are the only 2 other hikers up there with me. Brim Fell to their left, I swear it was smaller this morning, just peaking out to the left of that is the summit of The Old Man and to the right my goal. Dow Crag.

Getting closer it was phenomenal to see the crag and all the detail of the mountain, even better on my own. I definitely had a sweat on by this point, pacing quickly toward my final peak. This was it this one and down, but it looked too good not to snap.

dow-crag

Done, now back to the car. Then the long drive home. Lesson for next time, plan the route better and remember the SD card!

Thanks for reading.