ADVENTURES IN GRIZEDALE FOREST
1.Lawson Park, Machell Coppice, Parkamoor & Brantwood
2. Ascent to Carron Crag

 


Summary

Date - (1) 30th December 2008 & (2) 16th July 2009 Distance - (1) 9 miles (2) 5.5 miles
Map - OL6 & OL7 Start point - Monk Coniston car park (SD 316978)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Carron Crag 1030 314 SD 3259 9433

 

The Walk

Grisedale Forest Park, covers a large area of some 2447 hectares (6046 acres), above the east side of Coniston Water. On two adventures we visited different parts, the first in the company of Uncle Eric, the second just on our own with Dad. In each case the outward route up to a point was the same, so we have decided to combine them together. For the common route we have utilised pictures taken on both walks, a fact that may well be obvious from the foliage on the trees.

The weather conditions were starkly different. Being December, it was not surprising to have a cold frosty day, but thankfully there was not any wind. It started off sunny but then the cloud came down and it was pretty bleak. On the July walk the forecast was for a dry morning with showers in afternoon. In fact it was the complete opposite.

Our start point was the Monk Coniston car park at the very northern end of Coniston Water. We are always eager to be off, but on that December morning there was a nice effect of some light mist hanging over the lake, so we had to be patient while Dad took a picture.

Walking along the road on the east side of the lake, it climbed after a while passing the buildings of Tent Lodge and How Head. The view over the lake opened up and Coniston Village could be seen backed by Coniston Old Man, its top just about clear of the early morning mist and bathed in the sunlight.

On along the road to the next house, where on each walk we took the bridleway signed to the left.

Passing through the gate, it was then right, as indicated by this rustic sign.

The path, rough and stony in places climbed quite steeply, passing through two more gates. Then the gradient levelled and the path became smoother too, finally joining a forest road where we went right. In a short distance it finally emerged from the trees, and we came to an offset crossroad of paths. Distantly ahead we could see Carron Crag, which in this story is where we are going now.

Seeing a signpost, Grizzly called out, "is this our path, Dad?"

"No, that goes to Moor Top. We have to walk a few yards further to the fork, and go left", replied Dad.

Almost immediately after the left fork, the path split once again.

"Where now?", asked Allen.

"We follow the forest road, not the narrow path descending left", replied Dad once again.

"Where does that narrow path go?", persisted Allen.

"It leads eventually to the Forest Park Visitor Centre. That is where I adopted your pal Grizedale, in November 2002, after I had done the Silurian Way walk through the Forest, with Uncle Eric", said Dad. " In fact that is what the green bands on these marker posts indicate."

Now Tetley piped up, "That was when there was just Shaun and I in our club. It included climbing Carron Crag too."

"That's why you are having to take us again today Dad, so that Little Eric, Allen and I can tick it off from our Outlyer catch-up list", said Grizzly. He continued, "I will also finally catch up with Shaun and Tetley, on the Birkett Fells."

The forest road wound on ahead beside cleared ground, eventually bending left as it reached the trees again. Here a narrow path with a green banded marker post climbed away to the right through the trees, and leading to the summit of Carron Crag with its trig point.

Just a few feet below the final rocky top, Dad paused to phone Uncle Brian, to check that he was OK. During the conversation it started to rain, so Dad ended his call, intending now to take our picture sitting on the trig point. However the rain turned heavy and it absolutely poured down for about 20 mins. Dad sought shelter as best he could in the trees, but even so he was drenched. We were fine, safely tucked in the rucksack. Once it had stopped we returned for our picture.

There are many interesting things to do and see in this park, including the amazing sculptures, one of which we could see from the summit.

After the soaking, Dad did not linger too long fearing more rain, but it did not materialise. As we said earlier the forecast was back to front. It was a dry walk back retracing the outwards route, but underfoot the paths had become running streams.

He then went to Jane & Sam's (Hat Trick Cafe) and had gorgeous piping hot vegetable soup and then blackcurrant and apple crumble with cream. Well, after being soaked he deserved it.

For the purposes of continuing the story, we need you to ignore the last paragraph, and imagine us at the crossroad of paths again. We also need Doctor Who's Tardis, to transport us back to December 2008, and our walk with Uncle Eric. We are at the fork, and on this day we went right, the signpost reading Parkamoor, if we remember correctly. The walk instructions then indicated that after a while another path to the right had to be taken. It is unsigned and easy to miss, so Dad kept his eyes peeled and after a little while he spotted it. It entered the trees and wound its way down to Lawson Park. This former farmhouse was at the time being converted into the new headquarters Grizedale Arts. (www.lawsonpark.org)

In his book 'The Plague Dogs', Richard Adams based his research establishment (Animal Research, Scientific & Experimental), from which the two dogs Rowf and Snitter, escape after being horribly mistreated, on Lawson Park. Richard Adam's is perhaps more famous for his novel Watership Down.

The garden and grounds were undergoing renovation. Here is the Market Garden, lying dormant under its coating of frost, but looking neat and tidy, ready to wake up in the spring.

and close by was this 'grass swan'

Rounding the building, the path took us through the trees of Machell Coppice, and so to the road that runs along the east side of Coniston Water. Turned left and walked along past Bailiff Wood and on to Dodgson Wood car park, where we stopped to have a chocolate bar and drink. As we sat we saw one of many robins today. We took the good path from the back of the car park. It wound through the oak woodland, then coming to a barn owned by the National Trust. Beyond this the path went left by a wall, to a stile which we climbed. Now following white topped markers we climbed gently as the path zigzagged through the trees. Eventually we reached a stile on the left that took us out of the woodland and along a narrow track with a wall to the left. Some way along this a beck crosses the path. The wall stops on either side, but the gap has been bridged by horizontal stone slabs, to prevent sheep straying into the gill beyond.

We were intrigued by this, and could not resist jumping out of the rucksack and posing on them for our picture.

Safely tucked up again, Dad and Uncle Eric walked on, the track soon joining the path at Low Parkamoor. From here there was a section of open fell. Although the day had started sunny and clear, by now the cloud had rolled in, making it a cold bleak day, and denying us what should have been a terrific view of the surrounding fells. The path eventually entered forest and was quite oppressive at times walking along. You can almost feel the cold oozing out of this wintry scene.

There were plenty of mountain bikers about on this section too. This is another of the popular pastimes in Grizedale Forest. Eventually we came to and took a narrow signed path on the left that descended to join the path we had walked earlier, which led us again to Lawson Park. From here we now went right along a good path, which descended steadily passing above the grounds of Brantwood, once the home of the poet John Ruskin, and on down to the road. Here we turned left, passing Black Beck Cottage, to come to a footpath right the led over pastures to Tent Lodge, where the road was joined once again. Then it was just a short walk to the cars. It had been a most interesting walk and we had explored more of the many tracks and paths within the forest.

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