Drawing 49: The Coniston Fells

Direction of view: N

Notes: The best viewpoint is next to the summit cairn of Coniston Old Man.   In the sketch there is a snowy shelf, across which hounds are pursuing a fox.  The “shelf” is actually much smaller on the ground than it appears in the sketch, where the dogs and fox give a misleading scale to the landscape.  It would also be physically impossible for the dogs to have pursued the fox up the slope below!

This view appears as the frontispiece in volume 2 of Lakeland Mountain Drawings (without the fox and hounds!), on page Coniston Old Man 15 in The Southern Fells, page 48 of Fellwalking with a Camera, page 51 of Ex-Fellwanderer, page 63 of Memoirs of a Fellwanderer, page 9 of Wainwright in Lakeland and as sketch 5 in A Furness Sketchbook.

Comments: I took the image on slide film during a traverse of the Coniston Fells with Peter Messenger on 4th April 1993.  We set out from Wrynose Pass at 1.30pm, so it was quite late by the time we were on the tops, where there was “much photography and slow progress” according to my walks diary.  This included drawings 239, 88, 290 and 339 as well as this one.  We then traversed Dow Crag to Walna Scar Pass, and finished the day with a bar meal at the Sun Inn in Coniston.

I first took the picture for the digital project on 25th July 2015 (see drawing 290 for an account of that day).  Although the foreground was in sun briefly, the contrast with the shadowed background was too strong for an effective photo. A better result was obtained on 20th May 2019, Easter Saturday, when I spent half an hour searching for the best viewpoint: an enterprise in which I was joined by another walker who got intrigued by what I was doing!  We agreed that this picture was the best available.  The picnicking family were not going to move any time soon; but I reflected that the dogs were more placid and agreeable than those in Wainwright’s drawing!