Coniston Old Man walk

Coniston Old Man walkThe Coniston fells form a separate geographical unit. They are almost entirely severed from the adjacent mountains by the Duddon and Brathay valleys. The best known and highest, by only a few metres, is the Old Man. A walk should take in some of the other fells in the range – perhaps Dow Crag to the west, or Swirl How to the north and then onto the huge whaleback fell Wetherlam. The western slopes of the Coniston range are comparatively dull and the appeal of these fells lie in their eastern-facing slopes leading down to Coniston Water and the village. The fells have been scarred by copper mining and quarrying. The most popular Coniston Old Man walk starts from the village of Coniston and ascends via the Miners’ Bridge and Low Water, where man’s exploitation of the mountain’s riches can be seen at first hand. To avoid the crowds it is worth considering the route up along Walna Scar Road and then by the shores of Goat Tarn beneath the cliffs of Dow Crag and the steep ascent to Goat’s Hawse. Alternatively, there is Wainwright’s preferred route via Boo Tarn and Bursting Stone Quarry. The summit provides fine views of Morecambe Bay to the south, isolated Black Combe to the south-west, and on clear days, the Isle of Man and the Pennines. By far the most appealing views are to the north where the vast panoply of the Lakeland fells is spread before you. These impressive views, as well as the route up from Low Water, can continue to be enjoyed by taking the broad ridge to Swirl How, the geographical centre of the Coniston fells. It is just over a mile onto Wetherlam, via the wonderfully named Prison Band, with a detour to Black Sails en-route if you are peak bagging (not a Wainwright).