" " Lake District Trails and Ales: A 50km South Lake District circular walk, March 23rd -25th 2012

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A 50km South Lake District circular walk, March 23rd -25th 2012

This was a fantastic 50km circular walk over 2 1/2 days in the South Lakes Area (including Lowick Green, Coniston - the Old Man and Dow Crag, Walna scar road, Seathwaite, Broughton in Furness and back to Lowick Green) to celebrate my 50th birthday with a small group of long time friends.  The plan was to meet at Swangs Cottage on the Thursday night, with folks coming in from all directions. Z first drove to me in Harpenden and we drove up together. Ged flew into Manchester from Paris and we picked him up on the way, after a quick detour for a pint on the airport road. Nick and Spin got the train from London to Oxenholme and a taxi from there. Impressively Nick flew in from Rio de Janiro for the weekend arriving the previous day! Our evening meal and quite a few bevvies were had in the Royal Oak, Sparkbridge - just down the hill from Swangs. Sleeping arrangements had been made, but were about to be changed (not for the only time) due to them being a little too intimate for some.

Day 1

The boys getting ready for the off
Earlyish Friday morning we arose and congregated back down at the Royal Oak for a hearty full english breakfast. At this point our final walker, Gorky, arrived and soon (before 10am) we were on our way after a final check on iphones and blackberries for last minute messages from well wishers. We had been in training (drinking training that is) for this for months, even years, and boy was it needed with 6 thirsty boys and at least 10 pubs to hit in 2 and a bit days.

One of the tarns on Lowick Common with
Lowick Beacon in the background

The aim of the morning was to walk from Swangs Cottage, over Lowick Common and then over Blawith Beacon and part way along the edge of Coniston Water, stopping off for lunch in Torver at the Church Inn. A mere 15.6km start to the day.  The weather was kind - warm and sunny. What more could we ask for.  Having set off together we were soon (not for the last time!) spreading out into a leading and following pack (of one).

A well wisher looks on over Blaiwth Common
We were already falling behind schedule, but fortunately the Church Inn serves food until 3pm, and more importantly beer all day. After 3 pints, steak sandwiches and chips, none of us really wanted to leave, but we had accommodation booked in Coniston, and there was a nice little route past the Banishead quarry waterfall and down the Walna scar road to the wonderful Sun hotel for our first (and not last!) pint of the stunning Loweswater Gold from Cumbrian Legendary Ales. Due to running later than expected Gorky headed straight for the last bus, as he was only joining us the first day. Needless to say we found out later that the bus had been cancelled! We stayed overnight in Coniston and after another hearty full english breakfast were ready for our stroll to Broughton in Furness, over the Old Man and Dow Crag via Seathwaite.

Day 2

It was shorts weather. Fantastic. Off we set up the Coppermines Road until we hit the bridge and crossed over the stream to head directly towards the Old Man. Before long we were back on the main drag (joining the route from the car park), but even with the good weather there weren't too many people heading up. We stopped by Angle tarn for a quick break and then headed up the steeper and narrower route to the top.  At this point yesterday's walk started to have an impact and it was with some relief that the top was reached, but spirits were high, as it was all downhill from here!

Yesterday's walk started to catch up
with some
We crossed over the top of Dow Crag and walked along the ridge until we hit the Walna Scar road and then it was a long descent down into Seathwaite and the beautiful Duddon Valley.  At this point fatigue really started to kick in and the group spread out...a lot. 

View along Dow Crag

Ged decided to go on ahead in an advance party of one in case the pub shut, but the rest of us waited...and waited..and waited....until, as one unit, we finally made it to the Newfield Inn. The highlight of the day for Z was stopping and filling his water bottle from a stream which gave him that extra energy for the final push to the pub.  He must have been knackered as he had 2 pints of water before starting on the customary lager. There was plenty more walking still to be done...and once again we were behind schedule.

A lonely figure in the distance
 Z decided to call it a day and called a taxi to take him to Broughton. The rest of us supped up and as it approached 4 o'clock set off for Broughton Mills, via Park Head Road for another well earned pint.

Following this we then set off for the final part of the day, just reaching the edge of Broughton-in-Furness as darkness descended. We stayed (well some of us did) in the Black Cock Inn. We ate there and had a few beers and then headed over to the Manor Arms (where Z decided to sleep) for a nigtcap or two.

Day 3 - And then there were two....

Another stunning day and the final part of the circular walk was to get back to Swangs Cottage in Lowick Green for lunch time. Z had already decided to do this bit by taxi, but Nick and Spin had their return train to catch. So they dropped Z off on the way to Oxenholme, where he awaited his lift back down south. Meanwhile Ged and I ploughed on. After a couple of hours, not seeing anyone, we passed by Blawith Knott and could soon see Lowick church in the distance, knowing full well the Red Lion was close by for a last well earned couple of pints.

After this it was only a short stroll back to Swangs. Mission accomplished. What a fantastic walk, all the better for the fantastic weather we had and of course the company.  Same again, or something similar, next year.

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