2nd August 2008

Seathwaite Tarn, Dow Crag and a big hole on the ground


Walk Overview
Time 10.00 to 16 30
Duration 6 hr
Distance 7 mile
Ascent 2300 ft
Walking with Andrew, Roger, Ann, Richard and John
Walna Scar (Duddon Vally end) - Seathwaite Tarn - Near Gill - Far Gill Goat's Hawse - Dow Crag - Buck Pike - Brown Pike - Walna Scar Road (top of) - White Maiden - White Pike - Walna Scar Quarries - Walna Scar Road
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Parking spaces, bottom of Walna Scar Road, Duddon Valley

If you intend to park at this spot you must be prepared to be disappointed. There's only room for half a dozen cars (if that) and when these are taken, there simply isn't any alternative than to go somewhere else. If you are lucky enough to get a space, this is a fantastic alternative for a route up to the Coniston fells.


Route Map

The route to Seathwaite Tarn follows a broad track, where you get a great view back down the Duddon Valley. I suppose it is summer after all, so I could hardly be surprised at the rain we had just before we set out this morning. I actually had visions of this turning out to be a wet day up in the cloud, but thankfully it remained dry for the walk itself.

Found on the opposite side of the valley; Green Crag was enjoying a brief spell of sunshine.

Although it was only a couple of months since I was at Seathwaite Tarn, I was still keen to pay another visit. The previous visit had been during the long dry spell we were having, and although the tarn was extremely low, I was doubtful at the time that it was because of the lack of rain. Anyway: these containers and the scaffolding on the outside of the dam confirm what I already thought, which was that some sort of maintenance work was being carried out.

Harter Fell seen behind the dam on Seathwaite Tarn.
Notice the yellow hoses and the 'raft' on the right hand side of the tarn. The raft is actually the pumping gear used to keep the tarn at a level below the bottom of the dam.

Grey Friar rising behind the northern end of the tarn.

Beyond the tarn the valley comes to an end below Great Carrs / Swirl How.

A little further up our route, Andrew and I spent a couple of minutes deciding whether or not if would be realistic to come back someday and use Tarn Head Beck as a route from the valley to the ridge near Grey Friar. A definite possibility as it turned out, and one to try in the future.

Over the years, several people have asked me how I know what the more obscure off path routes I take are going to turn out like. You have two options really, the first one is to ask someone who's done it before or failing that, you access the route before hand from a good vantage point; as we did today. Although I'm confident about where I am and where I'm going to end up, I don't just head into the unknown without giving it a bit of thought first.


Goat's Water seen from a cloudless Goat's Hawse.

Dow Crag's crags.

Goat's Hawse seen from our (with a view) lunch stop.
Dow Crag had been in cloud the whole time so we decided to have something to eat here, rather than take the chance of getting to the top and sitting with a view of the nothing but cloud.

Ann and Richard walking up the rocky section below Dow Crag's summit.

Looking across to the brighter side of the Lakes.

Well, that was perfect timing. As we neared to summit the cloud lifted as we'd all hoped it would.

After a quick regroup we 'carefully' clambered over the wet rocks to reach the highest point.

A southerly view taken from the bottom of the rocky area around Dow Crag.

Looking back to Dow Crag.

A partial view of Goat's Water.

John and Roger looking down one of the gullies on the eastern face of Dow Crag. The Lake which is visible in the valley is Coniston Water.

Roger (surefooted) Hiley.

Goat's Water.

Looking back along what was now a very windy ridge.


Rather than head straight down the Walna Scar Road we decided to extend the walk by including Walna Scar, White Maiden and White Pike.

Green Crag, Harter Fell and Duddon Valley.

On our route back down we passed through the disused Walna Scar Quarries, and as I said at the time, "if you're going to dig a hole in the ground, you might as well dig a big one".

What an incredible place !

Ann, John and Richard adding scale to the photo. I should add that we're not actually standing at the bottom. Roger and Andrew were however; they had walked down to the next level which is almost as deep again.

Next to the quarry itself you'll find a large number of ruined buildings. This one being the largest of them. Undoubtedly this must have been an incredibly busy and noisy place at one time.


After leaving the quarry we took the path which cuts the corner to get back onto the Walna Scar Road.


Long House Gill.

Back at the cars now in warm sunshine and looking back up to:-
The Walna Scar Road (straight ahead)
The track to Seathwaite Tarn (turning off to the left)

David Hall -
Lake District Walks