Second Time Around
Last May was beautiful, as much of the spring of ‘12 was, and one exceptionally sunny day I attempted to walk over Coniston Old Man to Dow Crag, only to be defeated by the wind blowing me off my feet twice. Friday was forecast as another exceptional walking day. A big yellow sun was plonked on the map over most of Cumbria, with little wind and no precipitation. So this had to be a perfect day for wandering along the elusive crag!
All started wonderfully with the air being so clear that whatever God you believe in had surely painted the hills in HD? How else could The Bell sit so clearly in front of the Yewdale Fells
The sun was, unfortunately, replaced by a jigsaw of grey cloud but it did not detract from the clarity and even the industrial detritus has weathered in to the landscape to a point where it appears to belong.
The hills folded round smooth ripple free surface of Low Water, and Levers slipped around the corner, almost indiscernible from the hill, holding a perfect reflection.
Snow still filled in the folds, most noticeably on the paths, making them slightly challenging, in fact it was easier to take a direct route up the water soaked hill than follow the zigzag of the trail.
Initially the top of the Old Man provided the usual snapshots of Scafell, High Street and the Irish sea. Then someone decided to pull the safety curtain. Grey mist rolled up the valley, hiding goat tarn and obliterating Dow Crag, before washing over us and seriously changing the temperature.
It was a salutary lesson in making sure winter clothes were still packed. I had almost not put in my spare fleece and very nearly discarded my thermal legs. Only because I am very wimpy and really don’t like being cold had I thought it was better to be overheated and carry the extra weight. How glad I was. There were several people caught out having believed the pictures of yellow sun. No fun shivering on the top of a hill.
Once the extra layers were on, my only thought was ‘ No! Thwarted again’, I couldn’t even see Dow Crag, were we even going to be able to find it?
True to form, the curtain was only temporary, sent to annoy and warn that there is no place for complacency even on our relatively low Lakeland mountains.
Dow Crag is not as daunting as it looks from The Old Man. The sharpness of its ridge is one sided and the western side is a more gentle slope down to Seathwaite , giving a respite and safety net for anyone who has trouble with proximity sheer edges.
So it can be made as difficult or easy as you wish. Those with a need for an adrenalin shot can stick close to Goat Tarn and clamber over the rocks on the edge, any one not wishing to raise their stress levels can stay further over and enjoy a more relaxing stroll on the slope side.
The mist disappeared as quickly as it had come in and the warmth of the sun burned off anything that remained. As we clambered over the rocks and crags, warmth and wind created the most delicious natural light and smoke show. Tendrils of mist and steam rose up and wafted away. Walking over it I was near as I will ever be to parting the waves of the sea!
Map of our route
Route found here:
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