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" Coniston Challenge - The Mountain Walk "

Date & start time: Saturday 10th September 2016, 4.30 am start (from home).

Location of Start : The Walna Scar Road end, Cumbria, Uk ( SD 289 970 )

Places visited :      Walna Scar Road, Crowberry Haws, Low Water and Coniston Village.

Walk details :         7.5 mile route of which I walked possibly half. 13.5 hours on the fells.

Highest point :      Meeting all the people and sitting in a nice place.

Walked with :        Myself and Dylan, 6 other marshals, plus 11 teams (of 4 on average).

Weather :               Overcast clearing to sunshine later, a nice walking day.

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Over to Coniston again acting as support crew for a three-event Challenge Day organised by Global Challenge

6 teams from Travis Perkins and 5 other companies were raising money for the Whiz Kidz charity helping young disabled people .

An early start and a late finish for us but an interesting day in the fells.

The clock said 5 am . . . time for Dylan and I to be on the road to Coniston.

- - - o o o - - -

I collected our radio and team sheets from the Challenge Base in the grounds of John Ruskin School,

then drove the short distance up to the end of the Walna Scar Road to park the car.

The Challenge teams would be climbing the Old Man of Coniston today

as well as canoeing for several hours on the lake and riding a 25 mile bike route through Grisedale Forest !

It would be a tiring, triathlon day I would imagine.

My task was to supervise the first and last hill checkpoint of the day, over there at the foot of the main climb.

Walking the wide track across to Crowberry Haws.

As we round the last bend in the half light of early morning

we can see across to the old copper workings in the valley with Swirl How and Wetherlam summits in the distance.

The grid reference checked out and so I set up camp at the junction.

Below me was the path that the teams would use on their ascent of the Old Man of Coniston.

Sunrise was about 6.40 am . . . but it was gone 7 when the sun  first broke through a gap in the clouds.

The warm light of the morning sun was reflecting off the quarry face opposite

so I decided on a short walk to survey the scene.

Crowberry Haws is the gap where I pitched my shelter and from over here I can look up and see the main summit.

The impressive waterfall to the right is formed by the outflow from Low Water, hidden in the corrie below the main summit.

Late sunrise from my vantage point on the northern flanks of a crag, shown on the map as The Bell.

Looking down on Coniston Valley and the old buildings below.

The right hand white house is the Coniston Mines Youth Hostel, the other higher up seems to have a large marquee outside.

It turns out that there was a wedding there today,

at least I think I saw a tall lady dressed in white in the doorway later . . . and I don't think it was a ghost !

- - - o o o - - -

Back to work as the first teams start to arrive.

Team Yogi Bear, 7.15am.
Team Scooby Doo 7.22am.
Team Pink Panther, 7.33 am
Team Atom Ant, 7.35 am

(The arrival times were no reflection on performance as they started at different times from the school grounds.)

Each was checked through, with the chance for brief conversations as you would expect in this situation, at this time of day.

It became apparent that teams had joined this challenge from all over the UK, from London and the south coast to Nottingham and north.

Dylan greeted them all too.

- - - o o o - - -

The second set of teams were off canoeing and the third set were already cycling around Grisedale Forest

so I knew I had a few hours break before the next team. . . time for a walk . . . time to stretch mine and Dylan's legs.

- - - o o o - - -

[ It was about this time that the battery on my camera ran out so all photos now are courtesy of my phone ]

[ Note to self . . . first read the instruction manual and charge the new camera battery properly before going out ! ]

The only way is up . . . so I followed the teams up the fellside on the path toward the summit

ducking under the old iron cables that must have been part of an aerial ropeway system.

Coniston is world renowned for copper production but a lot of the later quarrying was for slate

so it was up through the workings, stopping to explore the remains of old mine buildings along the way.

This looks like the basis of an old electric motor . . . the curved surfaces reminiscent of armature windings and the carbon contacts.

Maybe this was the motive power for the aerial ropeway that served these quarries in the old days.

On the way up I stopped to chat to my colleague Richard (seen in red below)

then continued on up to explore a little more.

This is the area known as "Below Beck Fells" . . . and it is dotted with quarries, mine addits . . . and sheep.

A major entrance at the head of the track.
Close up of a joint in the aerial cable.

The path leads up to Low Water nestling below the summit of Coniston Old Man, in a cirque excavated by a glacier in Ice Ages past.

No time to go any further . . . but I do have time to go across and test the water.

Mmmm . . . not as cold as expected, even at this time of day.
The outflow as the beck starts its journey to the valley.

Time to be heading back down to be in position to meet the next teams.

Back at the shelter . . . Dylan first home as ever.

Time for a second breakfast . . . or rather a very early elevenses . . . at about 9 am.

- - - o o o - - -

Three more teams came and went . . . Charlie Brown, Wallace and Buzz Lightyear,

and then the first teams were back, reporting successful climbs and lovely views from the summit.

Another break but a shorter one this time so I checked out the path opposite.

It lead under the crags of Crowberry Haws and round to another mine addit.

These two cairns may have been connected with the ropeway but I think they were of newer origin.

A small stream flows out through the blocked exit from the tunnel, long overgrown.

The path continues on . . . it is the route to Levers Water and on towards Wetherlam, or Swirl How via the Prison Band.

Several groups of walkers were using the track today, in fact the whole area was busy with fellwalkers enjoying the fine weather.

- - - o o o - - -


The old and the new.


 In the middle distance are the workings

and the spoil heaps of the old copper mines.


In front is a newer quarry

complete with mine trucks and (yellow) excavators

which are involved in cutting slate

from the side of the mountain.


- - - o o o - - -

From the path back I look down on the old copper workings.

The circular wall close to the stream is part of the small hydro power scheme utilising the water from Levers Water.

- - - o o o - - -

Time passes . . . and so do hundreds of walkers.

This young couple are just starting their walking career and are loving every minute.

[ Forgive me but I have forgotten your names and lost the scrap of paper I wrote them on . . . please do get in touch ]

The teams came and went too . . . here's Daffy Duck at 3.39pm on the way back down . . . only the cycling left for them now.

The team sheet tells me that these guys all work for a company called ADSL

In the final lull before the last teams arrive I pack my shelter and stretch my legs

walking back to the car along the route they would be following on their way to me.

Late afternoon sunshine now . . . looking back at Bell Crags and the high summits behind.

Ahh . . . the final team, Team Gromit, reach my checkpoint at something past seven on the final part of their descent.

They are looking fit and walking well after their busy day on the canoes and the bikes.

Last one out close the gate . . . as we make our way down to Miner's Bridge in the valley.

A quick photo of one of the waterfalls on the way down . . .
. . . then we emerge via Dixon Ground

. . . to the Sun Inn at Coniston.

- - - o o o - - -


No time to stop as the finish line awaits.


- - - o o o - - -


The final team is safely back at the school grounds

where they started all those hours ago.


The " Challenge Base " tents are packed away

the radios handed back

and another challenging day is done.


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -

Post Script :



There was a planning notice on the gate at Walna Scar road end

talking about upgrading the casual parking

to a formal 56 car parking area.

The down side will be that they will be installing

a Pay-and-Display ticket machine, probably charging a fortune

for the privilege, if their fees elsewhere in the Park

are anything to go by.

The parking conditions there are rough and ready but okay.

The Planning Committee welcome your thoughts on the matter

(to Murley Moss - by 21st Sept 2016).

- - - o o o - - -



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- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 or my Samsung mobile phone.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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Previous walk - 4th September 2016 - The Loweswater Show 2016

A previous time up here - 11th June 2011 Coniston Challenge ~ Carron Crag

Next walk - 16th to 26th September 2016 - Applecross and Gairloch