Swirl How is a fell in the English Lake District which stands
between Coniston and the Duddon Valley in the southern part of the
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
Befitting the high
point of the range, 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.
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 is on the top of the ridge with the rest of the wreckage
spread down Broad Slack. It would appear that the plane approached from
the west, failed to clear the ridge and tumbled down the other side.
Other parts of the aircraft are preserved in the Ruskin Museum at nearby
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
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
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 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
routes near Swirl How