The Lake District Guide


Best walks in the Lake District

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Free of charge - The Coniston Fells' Route. This is one example of the walks from Paul's book, which you can buy on the link above.

Highest Point   The Old Man of Coniston 2,631 feet 
Distance   7.5 miles . 
Total Ascent   3,500 feet
Suggested Time   6 hours
Starting Point   Coniston (SD 302 976).  A car park is sited in the centre of the village.
Public Transport   Bus. Ambleside to Coniston. Service 505.

This walk is a circuit of the fells which provide a dramatic setting to the village of Coniston as viewed from the lake. Being in the Furness area these fells were formerly part of Lancashire, before the creation of Cumbria, consequently the Old Man of Coniston was once the highest point in Lancashire. Swirl How, a mile and a half away, stands only one foot lower. It is perhaps as well that their respective heights are not reversed, or else the numbers now content with only ascending the Old Man would be thronging the ridge to Swirl How. Though previously an area of extensive quarrying its attractiveness is still retained.

1 Starting from the bridge in the centre of the village next to Barclays Bank follow the road signposted as leading to the Sun Hotel. Turn right at the gable end of the hotel up a short access road signposted as leading to the Old Man and Levers Water. At the top end of the access road pass through a small gate next to a directional sign to the Y.H.A. on to a trackway. The track soon comes to a bridge which takes the track over Church Beck. (0.5 mile)

2 Do not cross over this bridge but keep to the left hand side of Church Beck following an obvious pathway. Within a few hundred yards, after crossing over a stile, the path veers away from Church Beck towards the Old Man of Coniston. After climbing nearly 500 feet the path joins a trackway coming in from the left. (0.75 mile)

3 Within 40 yards of joining this trackway another path leads off to the right. Be sure to ignore this turning and keep to the trackway, which makes a steep and twisting ascent through a complex series of abandoned quarry workings to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston. (1 mile)

4 From the summit head north along a graceful ridge to Swirl How. (1.75 miles). (In mist it is easy to mistake a path descending eastwards off Great How Crags for the path described below, or even for the path continuing on to Swirl How. This is not a proper route and can lead one into serious difficulties. If you are therefore not certain of being on the summit of Swirl How you should return to the Old Man of Coniston.)

5 From the summit of Swirl How descend eastwards down to the gap between Swirl How and Wetherlam, and from thence ascend to the summit of Wetherlam itself. (1 mile)

6 From Wetherlam head south along a pleasant ridge path descending towards Coniston. Near to the 1,250 foot contour the path joins an old constructed mine path that leads down to an unsurfaced roadway running by the side of Church Beck. (1.75 miles)

7 Follow this unsurfaced road towards Coniston. Within a few hundred yards on your right is the bridge which was bypassed at the start of the walk. Cross over the bridge now and return the way you previously came back to Coniston village. (0.75 mile)

(As you return to Coniston village a very pleasing way to conclude this walk is to visit one of Coniston's cafes or pubs for a pot of tea or a pint of ale.)


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