Hall Dunnerdale to Dow Crag and the Old Man back via Seathwaite Tarn

A Ulpha walk posted on 01/09/18 by Alwayswiththehills. Update : 17/09/18

A long and interesting walk from Hall Dunnerdale which could also be started from other places nearby. You will take in some lovely rolling countryside followed by a gradual ascent up a picturesque valley before making the climb up to Brown Pike. From here you are on the high Lakeland fells and take in numerous tops including the Old Man of Coniston. You descend carefully to Seathwaite Tarn and then back to Seathwaite where the Newfield Inn will welcome you with great beer and food.

Technical sheet
Calculated time Calculated time: 8h50[?]
Distance Distance : 23.01km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 962m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 962m
Highest point Highest point : 794m
Lowest point Lowest point : 90m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Lake District
Location Location : Ulpha
Starting point Starting point : N 54.349331° / W 3.209319°
Download :


(D) From Hall Dunnerdale follow the road towards Seathwaite, take care of traffic as the roads are narrow and twisting.

On a left hand bend you will see a gate and marker opposite (1), go through the gate and across the field to another gate in the wall, go through this. Take the path diagonally over the next field, it will turn uphill and start ascending through bracken (in summer) until turning right and crossing the field to an obvious gate in the wall (2). This last section where Old Park Beck cuts across the field can be very boggy and you might have to pick the best route through, it is also a field used for livestock and there may be cows present; please keep dogs on a lead.

Above you is the fell known as Caw, this is the obvious green triangular fell that is seen from the road. Once through the gate turn right and follow the good path (Park Head Road, an old quarry track) to a junction. Take the left hand track as it bends left onto Long Mire. This next section low down near the beck can also be boggy so stay high and on the track. You will see the boggy moss formations down on your right as you walk along. This is open fellside with sheep, please keep dogs on leads.

Long Mire soon descends to the start of a double walled lane (3) as you walk down keep an eye open for hogget holes, which are holes in the dry stone walls that were used for getting sheep from the fields into the lane; there is one obvious hogget hole here with a line of diagonal steps in the dry stone wall next to it. Follow the lane down to Stephenson Ground Farm (4). (There is accommodation here and it would be another place to start this walk).

From Stephenson Ground Farm take the good path heading towards the obvious valley which has a forest on the right hand side. The path ascends steadily and gently up this valley with the River Lickle on your right and ahead of you the pyramid of White Pike. Near the top of the valley, where the forest ends you will see a bridge on the other side (Natty Bridge) and soon after this your path will join the path coming from Natty Bridge and it will climb more steeply heading towards White Pike.

As the path levels off there are a number of smaller tracks and paths in this area (Yaud Mire on the map, boggy) you want to keep right on the highest path and contour around the side of White Pike. This will keep you out of the boggy ground and will also lead you through some old quarry workings (5). It is possible to go into one or two of the quarries and imagine how much rock was hewn from the hillside. There are numerous ruined quarry buildings as you continue to join the Walna Scar track at (6).

Walk up the Walna Scar track to the col at point (7) then take the steeper track which zig zags up to Brown Pike (8). You are now on the high Lakeland fells with magnificent views, below you, you will catch a glimpse of Blind Tarrn as you walk up to Buck Pike (9) and then Dow Crag (10). You will see Goats Water below you and you may even see climbers as they top out on the crags and buttresses that make up Dow Crag. You will have to do some easy scrambling if you want to get onto the very top of Dow Crag, otherwise walk around the summit. From Dow Crag descend to Goats Hawse (11), at this point it is possible to cut the walk short and avoid the Old Man of Coniston by descending to Seathwiate Tarn and picking the walk up again at point (14) You can also make the ascent of the Old Man and return to this point and descend to the tarn if you do not want to do the section of the walk via Brim Fell and the subsequent unmarked descent to the tarn.

From Goats Hawse the dedicated walker will head back up and make the final steep ascent to the Old Man of Coniston (12), enjoy the views over the lake, back towards Dow Crag and over to Sca Fell. Head back the way you arrived but instead of dropping back to Goats Hawse, keep to the ridge top and head north via Brim Fell in the direction of Great How Crags. As you drop into a col (13) you will see a path on your right descending to Levers Water. You will be descending on the other side down to Seathwaite tarn. Please note the path marked on the OS map does not exist, from the col it is best to pick up a sheep track that cuts diagonally downwards across the fell side until you have passed an obvious buttress of rock below you. At this point you can pick your way down, zig zagging through the grass and scree. Take care with this descent, it is not hard but the scree can be loose. At the bottom, near the buttress pick up sheep tracks and head down and over the the obvious stream and an old quarry working with a ruined building and a level area of spoil. Cross the stream to this building.

The ground around this valley bottom can be boggy, more so when the nearer you get to the tarn, so it is best to stay as high as possible, be on the opposite side of the stream until you can join the path which runs around the north side of the tarn (14). There is a path on the south side but it is hard to find and the ground is more boggy if you take this way. (Note I have marked the route as we did it as the paths marked on the OS map are vague and lead into boggy ground).

Follow the path around the tarn, if the weather is warm enjoy the view and the peace; not many people come this way which is why the paths are not well used and marked. It is even possible to have a swim. Soon the path leads you around to the dam wall. The path can then be taken over the wall (15) and at the end it joins the good track that leads back down to the valley.

Take this good track downhill. On the fellside on the left in 2018 there was an ongoing archaeological dig where a Norse Longhouse from the 10th Century and earlier Bronze Age remains had been discovered. The track wends its way down to join the bottom of the Walna Scar track (16) where there is parking and an alternative starting point to the walk.

Follow the road and just past a house on your left is a marked path (17) which leads over undulating ground towards a wall, continue along the well marked path, past another house and diagonally over a field to Turner Hall Farm (18). There is good camping here and it is another alternative starting point for the walk.

Rather than go through the farm, take the farm track to the road, turn left and carefully follow this to Seathwaite. The Newfield Inn (20) provides a great welcome and a good range of food and drinks. From the Newfiled Inn, follow the road back to Hall Dunnerdale. (An alternative, avoiding the road is to backtrack from the inn to the bend in the road (19) where the Park Head old quarry track leads over fields and up to point (2) where you can go through the gate and back down to Hall Dunnerdale.

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0 - Hall Dunnerdale
1 : km 0.29 - alt. km 0.29 - Go through gate on left-hand bend
2 : km 1.46 - alt. km 1.46 - Go through gate in wall
3 : km 3.67 - alt. km 3.67 - Double-walled lane
4 : km 3.99 - alt. km 3.99 - Stephenson Ground Farm
5 : km 7.41 - alt. km 7.41 - Quarry
6 : km 7.88 - alt. km 7.88 - Join the Walna Scar track
7 : km 8.8 - alt. km 8.8 - Col
8 : km 9.16 - alt. km 9.16 - Brown Pike
9 : km 9.87 - alt. km 9.87 - Buck Pike
10 : km 10.48 - alt. km 10.48 - Dow Crag
11 : km 11.24 - alt. km 11.24 - Goats Hawse
12 : km 12.16 - alt. km 12.16 - Old Man of Coniston
13 : km 13.86 - alt. km 13.86 - Col
14 : km 15.45 - alt. km 15.45 - Join path around tarn
15 : km 17.13 - alt. km 17.13 - Take path over wall
16 : km 19.62 - alt. km 19.62 - Bottom of Walna Scar track
17 : km 19.86 - alt. km 19.86 - Take marked path on left
18 : km 20.53 - alt. km 20.53 - Turner Hall Farm
19 : km 21.42 - alt. km 21.42 - Old quarry track
20 : km 21.49 - alt. km 21.49 - Newfield Inn
D/A : km 23.01 - alt. km 23.01 - Hall Dunnerdale

Useful Information

This is a long walk with a lot of ascent, take plenty of water with you.

Wear appropriate footwear you will encounter boggy ground, scree and rocky paths.

It ascends onto the tops on either side of Goats Water, make sure you have appropriate clothing and that you are prepared for any changes in the weather.

You will walk through farmland with livestock, please keep dogs on leads.

Take some money for refreshments at the Newfield Inn.

Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

There is so much to see on this walk, from the beautiful rolling countryside at the start through to the rugged Lakeland fells.

The old quarries at White Pike are worth a mention. The slate quarried here had/has a particular property. Its formation contains regular stripes of colour. In some places they are narrow but the most valuable slate had broad stripes running through it. This slate was quarried for flagstones; you will see these in the Newfield Inn, right in front of the bar.

If the weather is hot (it was when we did it) pack a towel and trunks so you can have a swim in Seathwaite Tarn.

I have given alternative starts for the walk, we stayed in the holiday cottages at Hall Dunnerdale http://www.hall-dunnerdale.co.uk/ but there is accommodation at other places in the Duddon Valley, including the camping at Turner Hall Farm.

The Duddon is one of my favourite Lakeland valleys, it is unspoiled compared to the honey pots of Grassmere, Ambelside and Keswick. You will not go far wrong if you take a week in one of the holiday cottages.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.