Coniston Old Man

  • Interesting and varied circuit
  • Wide ranging views over to the Irish Sea
  • Arthur Ransome country

Approaching the Coniston fells from the east is usually unsatisfactory and the flanks of the range are a bit of a mess. The quarrying which has cut such a deep scour across the landscape and looks as though it has eaten in to the guts of the mountain is a place to avoid. The quarrying is carrying on today with blasting and digging still recovering the much sought after olive green slate. The main tracks in to the range skirt the actual quarrying but really give little mountain experience and the tracks are particularly rough on the feet.

Therefore my favourite ascent of the Coniston range is via the Walna Scar Road which links Coniston village with little known Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley and the subsequent passage under the cliffs of Dow Crag and its lovely tarn, Goats Water. In a similar vein the finest descent is over Wetherlam, a huge whaleback fell which displays many of the characteristics I so cherish in the Lakeland fells; rocky outrops, bracken strewn slopes and a multitude of confusing ridges offering a good map reading challenge. I say this with some feeling as part of the assessment for my Mountain Leadership qualification was over Wetherlam. The views on the ridge between the Old Man and Swirl How are very good and I took some pleasure (and an element of frustration) to see the hordes piling up the quarry path having encountered next to nobody near Goat’s Water and on Wetherlam.

Recommend: Arthur Ransome based his books largely on the Coniston area; the copper mines and the ‘charcoal burners’ (now closed) were a large industry on Wetherlam and ‘Kanchenjunga’ is of course the Old Man.

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Coniston Round map

All maps are copyright of Where2Walk © 2019

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL6 The English Lakes South West. Buy Map
Start Point: SD 303975. Cross the river from the car park and immediately take the road up hill aiming for the Walna Scar road to Seathwaite
Height to Climb: 935ms (3,067 feet)
Terrain: Good paths throughout but not an ordeal like the main quarry ascent path is. The track down from Wetherlam is a particular pleasure
Eating & Drinking: I rarely get past the Sun Inn and it is my favourite pub in Coniston, along with the Crown. For tea shop fiends there is a very good choice.
Similar Walks Nearby: Beatrix Potter Country
Great Carrs & Wetherlam
Woodland Fell & Beacon Tarn
Places to Stay: