Walna Scar - twenty years on

Some twenty years ago, myself and a group of similarly delusional mountain bikers, loaded our bikes and rucksacks with gear and food for four days and set off from St Bees, to complete a superb lakes loop taking in Coniston, Windermere, Borrowdale, Keswick and Ennerdale. Our first day ended with the crossing of Walna Scar. How I got up with loaded panniers and a rucksack I'm not sure...
...but clearly the last twenty years of biking, climbing, sporadic running and kayaking have done little for the Herman body. In fact I managed all but the last 100 yards of the climb, before collapsing on the stony track, legs beyond burning. The view thankfully, has changed little - this route offers perhaps the best panorama of the very best of the Cumbrian fells.
It started serenely enough - a pleasant cruise along the shore of Coniston, before leaving the cycle-way and heading up on tarmac, past Torver, and up again into the Dunnerdale Fells.
A mix of forestry road and steep singletrack combine to give a great run to the River Lickle.
Here, looking out over the less well known Stickle Pike and Brock Barrow, I turned north to start the climb towards Walna Scar. I had intended to carry on to Seathwaite before climbing the Walna Scar 'road' from its base, but had left later than planned and so cut the corner.
From Caw Moss, I looked back along the river's track, leading directly to Duddon Sands - the northern end of Walney Island clearly visible.
A little way before Walna Scar, I passed an old quarry - one of many long since abandoned sites that litter the Lakes - the levelled platform providing a grandstand view of Eskdale and Scafell...
...beyond the shattered remains of an industry all but forgotten. There followed the stony but relatively smooth and deceptively steep ascent of Walna Scar - 150m in 1km.
Taking a moment or three at the top...
...before starting the classic descent.
Like the ascent, the descent starts smoothly enough, but soon becomes steeper and more technical - but by then I was flying, at times literally, carving down through a series of tight hairpins, pausing momentarily below The Cove before hurtling down once more.
The descent levels in one or two places, allowing a photo stop as the late afternoon light caught the fells, after which the last steep stretch on tarmac down to the lake passed in a blur.
I rolled into Coniston as the first  evening fires were lit, the smell of wood smoke drifting on a gentle breeze, lifting  from chimneys above slate roofs and white washed walls, rising gently towards bracken clad fells.
The route I had intended marked on the map - the actual route heading north from Stephenson Ground, along the edge of the forestry plantation, to join Walna Scar some 4km later.

Comments