The Vault Regulars

Monday, February 6, 2017

Walna Scar, White Pike and White Maiden. (From Dunnerdale)

The Duddon valley was quiet. Any noise being masked by the low mist. Tarn Beck was in spate and sound of the rushing water was quite musical. There was no one around except Sheila and I, no cars, tractors or kids breaking the silence, just the tapping of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker high up in an adjacent tree.
Occasionally part of the surrounding ridge line would appear and then it was gone but there was enough time for us to see that the tops were white with snow. From the look of it the snow line started at around 500 metres.
In the valley the temperature was high for this time of year at around 8 degrees.C. No wonder the clagg was down.

Walking through the fields between Turner Hall Campsite and High Moss showed signs of previous heavy rains. Water logged ground in abundance. Beyond High Moss a tall ladder stile crosses the boundary wall and from there we could see that no one was camping.
At the start of the Walna Scar the high temperature had us both taking layers off. No sooner had we set off again when hail started to fall. Stop again to put waterproofs back on. For the next twenty minutes we had all four seasons.
Mid way up the Walna, the clagg thankfully lifted and we saw eight tiny figures almost at the top. Amazingly the snow line was receding fast, it was certainly a bit higher now than it had been when we first glimpsed the tops earlier on.
The Walna is a steady climb and today was proving how unfit we both are. Numerous pauses made between  the slow progress. My knee ached as it has been for some time now and I was hoping that the top wouldn't be too slippery and cause me problems.

                              The start of the Wana Scar road with Harter Fell in background.

As it happened we caught up with the eight folk we saw earlier. Three carried on up to Buck Pike whilst the others stood and drank warm drinks.
The col where the Walna starts to drop down to Coniston was bitterly cold and a biting wind was painful on the face. My anemometer showed 20mph wind speed but a temperature of 4C. It seemed far colder than that, we layered up again, putting everything on including a new pair of goggles which stopped our eyes watering perfusely. They worked fantastically well and will be staying in the rucksack. We had a couple of new bits of kit which I will say more about in a separate post.
Looking down the Duddon Valley from The Walna Scar Rd,

Top of the Walna looking to Coniston Water.

It was too cold to linger and the mist was coming in again taking away our views but it was fast moving mist with the strong wind. The views we had down to Coniston water and out to sea were dark and foreboding, occasionally the sun would burst through the black cloud in strong sunbeams.
My camera doesn't do justice to the light show.
 Top of the Walna Rd, with the path up to Dow Crag behind left.

 Clagg closing in again.

On Walna Scar 621 metres, en route to White Pike.

We headed for White Pike using the path which crosses Walna Scar along the ridge. Behind us Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man recieved fleeting glimpses. Across to our left Harter fell and beyond that the Scafells had their heads covered.
The hail returned and this time along with the powerful wind. The goggles were working a treat and didn't fog up, but most importantly gave us the advantage of having a clear unrestricted view.
As we approached the summit of White Pike 598 metres, we came across footprints in the snow coming from the opposite direction to ours. We hadn't seen anyone so this person must have been out early?
The top of White Pike has a couple of stone cairns and a windbreak of sorts. No use to us today, it was too cold to linger here. As we were taking the usual summit photos three walkers approached and also didn't linger.
 Sheila sporting useful goggles. Almost at White Pike Top.

View of Dow Crag from White Pike.

We set off for White Maiden 610 metres, just a short distance away. Here in between the wall and the crags we found a sheltered spot to have a rewarding coffee. The three walkers followed behind us but didn't stop, heading off down towards Torver.
Zoom shot of Dow Crag (left) and sun on Old Man of Coniston.

Instead of returning we same way as we came I decided to just walk off the ridge (safely I may add) and head straight down to the wall gate at SD250963. It was a slippery route and I had to be careful not to stress my knee. The Herdwick sheep stared at us and probably thinking that we were mad. I would have agreed with them.
We got to the gate safe and sound and headed for Walna Quarry. The cave in the quarry would make a good place to have our sandwiches i thought. There are actually 2 caves in the quarries, the first one we found to be inaccessible due to a rock fall in the entrance alleyway. This is the biggest cave, so it was a bit disappointing. The 2nd cave is smaller and was accessible but the slate slabs were so slippery we didn't bother trying to get down to it. We were sheltered in the quarry so just decided to find a decent place to sit and have lunch.
Looking round there is still evidence of the quarrymens work. Drill holes ready for sticks of dynamite visible.
Heading down off the tops. Harter Fell now clear.

The 2nd cave which we found too slippery to access.

No sooner had we finished lunch when it went very dark again and the hail started. We set off out through the many quarry buildings, now ruins. There was no shelter.
 Dark clouds approaching fast.

 Sunny one minute.

Dark and hail stoning the next.

The hail was short lived, lasting only 10 minutes. Our route down now joined the Walna Rd again. Coming up to us were two runners and we mentioned to them that it was bitterly cold up on the top. They said they knew already as they had ran over White Pike earlier. We guessed that it must have been their footprints we saw.
Down at the road the temperature was warm and the wind non existent. The layers came off again.
The Woodpecker was still hammering away and the valley had come to life with numerous canoeists.
Greater Spotted Woodpecker, high up in the trees.

Our route today is below. It was 11km. We didn't do this walk in the time showed below on the map. It took us 4 hrs with stops.


Dawn said...

A fantastic walk that Alan. Well done the pair of you. Your usual high calibre photos, lovely!

AlanR said...

It's a favourite area of ours Dawn. Thanks for your kind comment.

Sir Hugh said...

Familiar grond for me too, although I have never been into the quarry - a most interesting post - thanks.

AlanR said...

Thanks Conrad. The quarry is a good area to explore with care.

afootinthehills said...

Very interesting read Alan and the ever changing weather always adds to a day I find. Your photos certainly capture the day well. Haven't been to this area of the Lakes for years so really must arrrange a visit.

Getting fit after a break is a trial without your knee playing up as well. I hope it improves soon.

AlanR said...

Thanks Gibson. Very changeable weather. Much more snow fell overnight bringing the snow line down to around 400m. I think I am stuck with the knee problem. I can walk ok with only minor pain but if I jar it or have to put any strain on it, it complains badly. Hence why I was not prepared to risk sliding on wet/icy slate.

Al said...

Good walk that Alan, I always enjoy the Coniston fells. A real mix of weather as well! Thanks for posting.
Cheers Alistair

AlanR said...

Glad you liked it Alistair. Cheers.

Alan Sloman said...

All quite splendid, Sir.

Sheila's new glasses look the business. Are they rose-tinted? It would make a grey day so much warmer.


Hope the knee settles.

AlanR said...

Cheers Al. I can understand how splendid rose coloured glasses would be, however they are just plain old boring clear. We are really pleased with how good they were. They are made for paragliding and are very lightweight.

Phreerunner said...

Just caught up, Alan. Good to see you getting a bit of quality fresh air!

AlanR said...

Fresh was the word Martin. A lovely area to amble.

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