Dow Crag

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 54.37126°N / 3.13668°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.3 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: British Diff
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 14
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Dow Crag Route Topo

Dow Crag is situated amid the Coniston Fells with scree slopes at its base passing down to Goats Water below. The crag offers climbs at all grades but the route described here doesn’t go above Diff climbing, all be it in a wonderful mountain environment.

The route comprises approximately 300m of ascent at Diff standard (UIAA II) along with a scrambling descent at Grade 3.

The crag is east facing catching the morning sun and the high quality rhylolite rock offers excellent climbing.

The rock is fairly quick to dry BUT resembles verglas in the wet especially on the polished route described.

Be warned the route also has a cold reputation due to the funnelling of the wind around the col and Goats Water.

Getting There

Dow Crag

The crag is best approached from the unofficial car park situated at the top of the steep road past the Sun Inn, Coniston.

From the car park follow the broad track of Walna Scar road and then take the right branch to Goats Water.

Dow Crag is visible on the left with a blue stretcher box at its base as an obvious reference point.
The route starts at the bottom of the third buttress (C buttress) down and to the right of the box.

Route Description

Giants CrawlFirst Pitch Giants Crawl
Dow Crag Summit Summit of Dow Crag
Giants Crawl Dow CragSimnel Leading 4th pitch Giants Crawl
C Ordinary Dow CragSecond Pitch C ordinary. Goats water below.

This mountaineering ascent of the crag takes in two Lake District classics: C Ordinary 76m 7 pitches of Diff climbing (UIAA II) and Giants Crawl 115m 7 pitches Diff (UIAA II).

There is also a scrambling descent of Easy Terrace (Grade 3) between these two routes.

In addition the route takes you from the very bottom of the crag to a wonderful summit with fabulous views.

C Ordinary 76m Diff

Probably the most popular route on the crag starts at the bottom of C buttress and also at the very bottom of the crag. The route is broad and open so some care is needed in places to follow the correct line. It should be noted that the climb becomes much more difficult in the cold and especially the wet. First climbed in 1904.

Start just left of the lowest part of the buttress on large flakes.

1. The first pitch is 15m and finishes at a slabby scoop with good belays.
2. 9m follow the scoop to easier ground and a ledge. These first two pitches can be combined.
3. 7m Go to the left of the ledge and ascend right up the scoop
4. 12m Go left up over the slabs to a ledge on the edge of the buttress and then continue to the next ledge
5 10m Step onto a large slab and continue up right to ledges and a ledge over the gulley.
6. 13m Follow flakes on the steeper wall on the left under a prow. Negotiate an exposed crack to the top of the block and then continue up and right to a stance.
7 10m Move right along the slabs to a ledge and then go right round a bulge to another ledge anfd then go left up to Easy Terrace.

Easy Terrace Descent (Grade 3 Scramble)
This well worn descent route is steep in places and the use of a rope is advised.
From the top of C Ordinary there is a small grassy path skirting along the terrace to the left. Follow this and descend now on rocky ground to a steep section. Follow the narrow gulley down initially in a chimney and then down the gulley bed.
At the bottom of the gulley ascend a path to the start of Giants Crawl.

Giants Crawl 120m Diff

An excellent and inescapable route probably the best Diff in England! First climbed in 1909.

Start at the obvious well worn gangway slanting right at the foot of Great Gulley on the left.

1. 18 m Climb easy slabs to a sloping ledge and then
2. 15m On to a crack. Alternatively climb the quartzy slabs on the right at V Diff (UIAA III).
3. 14m Traverse right to the edge
4. 14m Climb the polished narrowing gangway on increasingly exposed ground but with good protection. This eases and leads to a stance on a ledge with Easy Terrace down to the right.
5. 20m Move right and then to a traverse line leading left below bulging rock. This leads to a bulging block and an awkward corner crack and then on to a stance on a large ledge.
6. 12m Continue carefully to the left to an exposed groove
7. 18m The ground eases to a scramble to the summit.


From the summit either descend to Goats Water and back along Walna Scar Road or alternatively continue over to the Old Man of Coniston and descend the south ridge.

Essential Gear

A good selection of nuts and slings will suffice.

Warm clothing even in milder weather should be considered.

Note that the character of the route can change dramaticaly in the cold and the wet.

External Links

LakeDistrict Weather

Guide Books

This SP route description provides a very basic topo for the route.

More detailed descriptions plus other routes can be found in Scrambles and Easy Climbs in the Lake District by Jon Sparks and Judith Brown and the FRCC Guide 2003 Lake District Rock.

NB Owing to the number of MUCH higher graded climbing routes that criss cross over this mountaineering route a full guide to the route is recommended