Swirl How from Great Carrs
|Elevation||802.42 m (2,632.6 ft)|
|Prominence||c. 112 m (disputed)|
|Listing||Wainwright, Hewitt, Nuttall|
|Location||Cumbria, England (traditionally Lancashire)|
|Parent range||Lake District, Southern Fells|
|Topo map||OS Landranger 97, Explorer OL6|
Swirl How is a fell in the English Lake District. It stands between Coniston and the Duddon Valley in the southern part of the District. It rivals the Old Man of Coniston as the highest point within the traditional County Palatine of Lancashire(it has been administered since 1974 by Cumbria County Council for local government purposes).
The Coniston (or Furness) Fells form the watershed between Coniston Water and the Duddon valley to the west. The range begins at Wrynose Pass and runs south for around 10 miles before petering out at Broughton in Furness on the Duddon Estuary. Alfred Wainwright in his influential Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells took only the northern half of the range as Lakeland proper, consigning the lower fells to the south to a supplementary work The Outlying Fells of Lakeland. Swirl How being a significant high point of the Coniston Fells therefore qualifies as one of the 214 Wainwrights. Later guidebook writers have chosen to include the whole range in their main volumes.
A detailed survey on 24 May 2018measured the height of Swirl How to be 802.42m.
The same survey also measured the height of nearby The Old Man of Coniston and found the highest visible natural ground to be also 802.42m. The height of the ground on the summit plinth (man-made ground) is 803.53m. The measurements were reported with a measurement uncertainty of plus or minus 0.05m.
The surveyors state: "if one considers the area covered by the plinth on Coniston Old Man and the observation that the highest rock is probably covered by it then we believe the evidence strongly suggests there is higher ground beneath it and that, therefore, Coniston Old Man should retain its current status" [as being the highest of the Furness Fells and the historic county top of Lancashire].
As of 2020, Ordnance Survey maps show The Old Man of Coniston with a height of 803m, and Swirl How at 802m.
Whichever of the two is the higher is the highest point in the historic County Palatine of Lancashire and is the highest point in the Furness Fells, and the twelfth most prominent mountain in England.
Swirl How sends out ridges to the four points of the compass, each leading to further fells. Consequently, it also feeds the headwaters of four valleys.
The ridge northward to Great Carrs is named Top of Broad Slack, Broad Slack being a ferociously steep grass slope climbing out of the Greenburn valley between neighbouring crags. The ridge is a grassy plateau with a pronounced downward tilt to the west. The eastern edge is precipitous, curving around the head of Greenburn. On the journey to Great Carrs the path passes a memorial. This is the site of a wartime aircrash and bears the sad remains of a Royal Canadian Air Force Handley Page Halifax bomber. The undercarriage, together with a wooden cross and memorial cairn lies on the top of the ridge with the rest of the wreckage spread down Broad Slack. In his guidebook The Southern Fells Alfred Wainwright suggests that the plane approached from the west, failed to clear the ridge and tumbled down the other side. In fact, the wrecked aircraft came to rest on the western slope; the majority of the wreckage was subsequently pushed over the edge of broad slack by the RAF salvage crew, in order to make it less prominent and reduce the likelihood of overflying pilots spotting the wreckage and repeatedly reporting the crash. An engine and propeller from the aircraft are preserved at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston.The tilted plateau of the north ridge is triangular in plan, narrowing to a point at Fairfield in the west. This is the col between Swirl How and the ridge's western outlier, Grey Friar. To the north of this ridge are long slopes leading down to the Duddon at Wrynose Bottom.
The main ridge continues southward, stepping down Great and Little How Crags to the depression of Levers Hawse. From here it rises again to Brim Fell with Dow Crag and The Old Man Of Coniston beyond. To the west of the Hawse is the valley of Tarn Head Beck, the main feeder of Seathwaite Tarn, a reservoir in a side valley of the Duddon system. This was originally a much smaller waterbody, but was dammed early in the 20th century to provide drinking water for the Barrow-in-Furness area. The dam is almost 400 yards long and is concrete cored with slate buttresses, the resulting depth of the tarn being around 80 ft. Water is not abstracted directly from the tarn, but flows some distance downriver to an off-take weir. To the east of Levers Hawse is Levers Water. This smaller tarn has also been raised by damming, but in this case the original user was the Coniston Copper Mines. Following the decline of mining in the late 19th century a water treatment plant was eventually built and the tarn now supplies drinking water for Coniston village.
The eastern arm of Swirl How leads down the stony slope of Prison Band to the depression at Swirl Hawse. From here it rises over the subsidiary top of Black Sails to the main summit of Wetherlam. Swirl Hawse Beck runs south from this ridge to feed Levers Water, whilst to the north of Wetherlam is Greenburn.
The summit ridge exposes welded rhyolitic tuff and lapilli-tuff of the Long Top Member, interspersed with bands of andesitic lapilli tuff of the Wetside Edge Member.
The summit of Swirl How is marked by a fine cairn on a stony top, built close to the Greenburn edge of the ridge. The view to the north takes in massed ranks of fells while in other directions the Isle of Man, Morecambe Bay and Pennines can be seen.
Direct ascents can be made via Levers Hawse to the south or Swirl Hawse to the east. Both can be gained from Coniston and Swirl Hawse is also a practicable objective from Little Langdale. The right of way shown up the western (Duddon) side of Levers Hawse does not exist as a path on the ground. Many walkers will arrive on Swirl How via one of the surrounding fells, all four ridges carrying fair paths.
The origin of the name Swirl How is obscure. A Norwegian dialect word svirle meaning to swirl or whirl around, suggests that there may have been an Old Norse origin. How is believed to derive from the Old Norse word haugr meaning hill or mound.
The Old Man of Coniston is a fell in the Furness Fells in the English Lake District and the highest point of the traditional County Palatine of Lancashire. It is at least 2,632.61 feet (802.42 m) high, and lies to the west of the village of Coniston and the lake, Coniston Water. The fell is sometimes known by the alternative name of Coniston Old Man, or simply The Old Man. The mountain is popular with tourists and fell-walkers with a number of well-marked paths to the summit. The mountain has also seen extensive slate mining activity for eight hundred years and the remains of abandoned mines and spoil tips are a significant feature of the north-east slopes. There are also several flocks of sheep that are grazed on the mountain.
Hard Knott is a fell in the English Lake District, at the head of Eskdale.
Cold Pike is a fell in the English Lake District. It is a satellite of Crinkle Crags and stands above the Upper Duddon Valley.
Pike of Blisco, or Pike o' Blisco, is a mountain in the Lake District in Cumbria, England. Located between the valleys of Great Langdale and Little Langdale, its relative isolation from neighbouring fells together with slopes falling away immediately from the summit in all directions mean it has excellent views: the view of the Langdale Pikes across Great Langdale is particularly arresting.
Loughrigg Fell is a hill in the central part of the English Lake District. It stands on the end of the long ridge coming down from High Raise over Silver How towards Ambleside, and is separated from its neighbours by the depression of Red Bank.
The Furness Fells are a multitude of hills and mountains in the Furness region of Cumbria, England. Historically part of Lancashire, the Furness Fells or High Furness is the name given to the upland part of Furness, that is, that part of Furness lying north of the line between Ulverston and Ireleth. The hills lie largely within the English Lake District.
Seathwaite Fell is an area of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. It stands above the hamlet of the same name at the head of Borrowdale.
Helm Crag is a fell in the English Lake District situated in the Central Fells to the north of Grasmere. Despite its low height it sits prominently at the end of a ridge, easily seen from the village. This, combined with the distinctive summit rocks which provide the alternative name 'The Lion and the Lamb', makes it one of the most recognised hills in the District.
Dow Crag is a fell in the English Lake District near Coniston, Cumbria. The eastern face is one of the many rock faces in the Lake District used for rock climbing.
Stickle Pike is an outlying fell located in the southern Lake District near the small town of Broughton-in-Furness, with the summit situated between the lower Duddon Valley and the quiet smaller valley of Dunnerdale. Despite its low altitude the sharp, conical summit is prominent in views from the Broughton and high Furness areas. As with many of the Dunnerdale and Coniston fells, there are reminders of the area's former mining past in the form of many spoil heaps, disused levels and shafts. The fell is also notable for its superb views despite its low altitude, especially to the Scafells to the north and the sands of the Duddon Estuary to the south. A "stickle" is a hill with a prominent rocky top.
Steel Fell is a fell in the English Lake District, lying between Thirlmere and Grasmere. It is triangular in plan, the ridges running north, west and south east. Steel Fell rises to the west of the Dunmail Pass road and can be climbed from the summit, or from Grasmere and Wythburn.
Grey Friar is a fell in the English Lake District, it is one of the Coniston Fells and is situated 13 kilometres west-south-west of Ambleside. It reaches a height of 770 metres and stands to the north west of the other Coniston Fells, a little off the beaten track and tends to be the least visited of the group. It is quite a large fell and forms the eastern wall of the Duddon Valley for several kilometres, in fact all drainage from Grey Friar goes to the Duddon Valley and not to Coniston Water.
Lingmoor Fell is a fell in the English Lake District, situated eight kilometres west of Ambleside. The fell reaches a height of 469 m (1,540 ft) and divides the valleys of Great Langdale and Little Langdale. The fell's name originates from the Old Norse word lyng meaning “heather covered”. The actual summit of the fell is named as Brown How on Ordnance Survey maps.
Wetherlam is a mountain in the English Lake District. It is the most northerly of the Coniston Fells, the range of fells to the north-west of Coniston village; its north-east slopes descend to Little Langdale.
Black Fell is a fell in the English Lake District. It rises to the north of Tarn Hows, between Coniston and Hawkshead.
Brim Fell is a fell in the English Lake District. It stands to the west of Coniston village in the southern part of the District.
Great Carrs is a fell in the English Lake District. It stands above Wrynose Pass in the southern part of the District.
Middle Fell is a hill or fell in the English Lake District. It is a satellite of Seatallan standing above the northern shore of Wastwater. Middle Fell can be climbed from Greendale near the foot of Wastwater, and a fine view of the lake backed by the Wastwater Screes is visible from the summit.
The Southern Fells are a group of hills in the English Lake District. Including Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England, they occupy a broad area to the south of Great Langdale, Borrowdale and Wasdale. High and rocky towards the centre of the Lake District, the Southern Fells progressively take on a moorland character toward the south west. In the south east are the well known Furness Fells, their heavily quarried flanks rising above Coniston Water.
Levers Water is a small lake in the English Lake District. It is located at the head of the Coppermines Valley, above Coniston village. To its south-west is Raven Tor, a spur of Brim Fell, and to its north-west are Little How Crags and Great How Crags, on the eastern side of the north-south ridge leading to Swirl How.