Three Shire Stone in Wrynose Pass
A few years ago I was walking over Brim Fell with friends in thick fog, barely able to see more than ten metres. Even so I still saw enough to spot the wild camping potential there. It therefore made it onto my to-do list and it has stayed there ever since … until this summer. As Brim Fell was next door to the Old Man of Coniston that was also an option but I could decide when I got there.
Given that I’d be carrying all my overnight kit, the obvious place to start from was Wrynose Pass as it saves a lot of climbing. This was particularly true at the time as the UK was approaching its hottest week in history so any corners that could be cut were going to get cut.
There are a number of parking places along the road over Wrynose Pass and I easily found one close to the Three Shire Stone at the top.
The Three Shire Stone, Wrynose Pass
The Three Shire Stone is so named it as it marked the boundary between three old counties: Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland. Nowadays it actually marks none thanks to a spot of county boundary reorganisation in 1974 but it remains as its a Grade II listed monument. The ‘W.F. 1816’ inscription refers to the date it was made and William Field, the Furness roadmaster at the time (I had to google what that job entailed – you live and learn).
The walk from Wrynose Pass to Brim Fell
Anyway, it was way too warm to loiter around admiring slabs of limestone so I set off. I had plenty of time before sunset but thanks to the heat I was going to take it slowly.
My first objective was Wet Side Edge, the ridge that climbs out of Little Langdale and up onto the fell tops. A handy signpost next to the road pointed the way southwards.
Pointing the way to Wet Side Edge
Have I mentioned the heat? Well it was hot so there were quite a few pauses, mostly to drink water or just collapse, especially on this first section. Fortunately the sun was so low that this section was in shade so it could have been much hotter. Eventually the gradient levelled off though and I got to the cairn marking the point where my path met the main Wet Side Edge path. Phew!
The cairn marking where I joined the main path on Wet Side Edge
The view from here showed the majority of the rest of the climb for the day. From right to left thats Little Carrs, Great Carrs and Swirl How, all lining the head of the Greenburn Valley at the head of Little Langdale. Brim Fell is out of sight, hidden by Swirl How.
After a bit of a break off I went again. As it turned out I didn’t actually get to the summits of either Little Carrs or Great Carrs. Instead I chose to take an easier route and skirted round the base of both summit crags.
As soon as I reached the summit of Swirl How I collapsed, totally soaked in sweat. Had there been anyone else in sight I’d have pretended to be ok to save my male pride. There wasn’t though so it went out of the window!
While getting my breath back I spotted a patch of flat grass next to the summit crag and seriously considered stopping here for the night. Plan A involved descending to the pass of Levers Hause and climbing up Brim Fell. Although I had plenty of time left before sunset I was suffering in the heat and really didn’t fancy the extra leg in this heat.
However, after a lively discussion with some local midges, I thought it best to plough on and stick to my original plan. As it turned out it didn’t take long to do the last leg anyway.
Camping on Brim Fell
On arriving at Brim Fell’s summit I noticed three things straight away. Firstly there were no midges here. Great. Secondly there were also no people here. Great! And finally due to its wide summit plateau there’s loads of space for tents here. I hadn’t been able to appreciate this last I was here thanks to low cloud.
Originally I had considered camping on The Old Man of Coniston but its only a short fairly flat walk from here so I decided to stop on Brim Fell as it looked comfy. Decision made, my tent was soon up and kit sorted.
My tent pitched near to Brim Fell’s summit
As I’ve already noted, its an easy half-mile walk to the summit of The Old Man of Coniston.
Coniston Old Man from my tent on Brim Fell
Looking over at The Old Man I could see someone on the summit but I guessed they would be heading down within the hour as sunset was approaching. I’m glad to say this turned out to be the case and there was no one else in sight.
Sunset from Brim Fell
I had almost an hour before sunset so time for a leisurely wander. First up, I returned to the cairn on Brim Fell’s summit to check out the view southwards towards The Old Man of Coniston and a distant Duddon Estuary.
The view south from Brim Fell towards The Old Man
Having sat down for a bit to admire the views as the shadows lengthened, I thought I’d time how long it would take to get to the summit of the Old Man.
The summit ridge of The Old Man
The answer: five minutes. Useful knowledge for the following day’s dawn.
After a quick scoot round I was also glad to see that Brim Fell was a much more comfortable place to sleep, the only half decent places here being on the Brim Fell (northern) side of Old Man’s summit.
Looking at where the sun was setting and having checked out where it was going to rise I sussed out that the best photos from here would be at dawn. Consequently I decided to chill out and didn’t take many photos of my evening’s wanderings..I just keep my fingers crossed that I’d manage to get some good snaps the following day.
As the sun disappeared I returned to Brim Fell. Even though it had gone 10pm there was enough light to not need a torch.
Sheep grazing on Brim Fell at dusk
I hope those sheep don’t party during the night.
The views west from here over Green Crag and out towards the Isle of Man were pretty impressive.
View westwards at dusk from Brim Fell
Also, it looked like a sea fret was forming. Here’s hoping that would make its way inland overnight and I’d get some decent mist.
Anyway, I had a very early start so one last photo of my bedroom and it was bedtime for me. Sunrise was before 5am and I needed sleep.
Bedtime view of Green Crag from Brim Fell
A very early start on Brim Fell
After a very still night and as much sleep as I could squeeze in I managed to wake up as soon as it started to get light. It had turned 4am but I had a bit of time before dawn proper. Even so there was no lie-in for me as I wanted to see what it was like outside. And having peeked out of my tent I was keen to get dressed and have a proper look.
To say it was good would be an understatement! A thick blanket of fog covered both Coniston Water and Windermere as well as all the low lying land between.
Breakfast on Coniston Old Man seemed like a good idea so I grabbed some food and set off along the path.
The path leading over Brim Fell to Coniston Old Man
Just before starting the climb onto Old Man’s summit crag I spotted some colour behind me.
This was just getting better and better! Back to the task in hand though and the last pull up The Old Man.
The last bit of the climb up to Old Man’s summit
Views from The Old Man of Coniston
A few minutes later I was on the summit looking over the edge, down towards the Coppermines Valley just as the sun broke the horizon.
Looking down towards Coppermines Valley from Old Man’s summit
The main path from the valley can just be made out snaking its way up the fell side.
Anyway, the sun was making an appearance so I had to act fairly quickly to get the shots I was after.
After pressing the camera shutter a couple of times I was exhausted so I sat myself down to just enjoy the great views and changing light. Photography is all well and good but nothing beats just seeing stuff.
Suitably refreshed I took the short walk back to my tent.
The walk back to Brim Fell after dawn
The light had drastically changed in the last hour since I took a photo of this view on my way to the summit. Oh, and the sheep had reappeared.
The walk back to Wrynose Pass
As the sun rose higher, any chill in the air disappeared quickly and I could tell it was going to be another hot one. I’m not really that bothered about having a tan so I thought I may as well head back home.
Having packed up the tent and made sure there was no sign of me ever having been here I set off, back the way I came towards Swirl How.
On getting to Levers Hawse I started my way up Swirl Band, the ridge leading up to Swirl How’s summit. Glancing over my shoulder I spotted the view over Levers Water towards the mist enshrouded Coniston beyond.
Well worth a stopping for a photo.
I had been on Swirl How summit the evening before so I decided to take a detour here, opting for the path that contours the slopes of Swirl How to join the Grey Friar path. I wasn’t intending to go up Grey Friar, its just that the western flanks of Swirl How offered some shade. Oh, and it also allowed me to revisit the site of an air crash on Great Carrs.
The memorial cairn on Great Carrs
More details about this crash site are mentioned with my photo of the Great Carrs memorial. The photo on that page was taken in winter, a much better time of year to take a photo here I think.
Working my way over the ridge from here I soon joined the path from the previous evening and arrived at Little Carrs. The view from here looking down the Greenburn Valley towards Little Langdale deserved yet another break.
The disused Greenburn Reservoir can just be seen at the far end of the valley below. As quickly as it was warming up the mist was retreating and it still wasn’t 7am yet. As is often the case when out camping, I felt lucky to have seen what I had seen.
Reaching the cairn on Wet Side Edge I remembered to take a left turn. Carrying straight on would have taken me down into Little Langdale and then I’d have faced the climb to the top of Wrynose Pass. I’m so glad I was on the ball despite the early hour!
Soon enough the zig-zagging path rounded a corner and I could see the top of the pass and my car.
Footpath from Wetside Edge down to Wrynose Pass
Well, I can see it anyway. It wasn’t too long before I got a much closer view of it.
The end of my little adventure
Well, what a camping trip! No wind, gorgeous weather, plenty of Lake District photos and a cloud inversion to boot. Oh, and by the time I got down into Little Langdale all the mist had burnt off. It was definitely worth the very early alarm call otherwise I’d have missed out on everything!
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