Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Old Man of Coniston (2634ft /803m)

Coniston Old Man or The "Old man" as it is sometimes alternatively and affectionately known as, overlooks Coniston village from the west with the area being once rich in copper and slate mining. This was the last day in the Lake District and the purpose of this walk was to climb Dow Crag from a different direction covering my unconquered peaks of Brown Pike and Buck Pike.

Two points for the walkers and climbers reading this ... I considered this as an alternative Coniston round and yes, I cheated on this occasion and drove up  to the Walna Scar car park ... I didn't like putting my car through that agony. In my defence I did start from the village on a previous occasion to do the official "round", but as that was back in 1996 (that was the last time I was here - shameful), I maybe wrong but I thought that there was a noticeable difference in the traffic and parking regulations for the same time of year.

The "trek" along Walna Scar road seems easy enough on the map but the constant tramping on the large stones feels like walking a few miles on a pebbly beach. As this is on the periphery of the main mountain ranges of Cumbria, the scenery can sometimes seem a little drab. A bridge crossing the stream seemed like a breath of fresh air to .... the camera at least !

As I was a bit desperate to get the photographic material started, I thought I would try something a little different with the bridge.

The above photo is the reverse viewpoint of the previous landscape showing the footpath repairers trying to improve or rather rescue a difficult section with Coniston Lake coming into view.

The only way to get across country like this  ... ooh, I'm tempted to have a go !! However the sight of this is a little controversial seeing that 4x4 vehicles and motorbikes were banned from using this route several years ago to prevent further destruction to the ...  errr ... road !

Walna scar road connects a remote part of the Lake District of Seathwaite in Dunnerdale to Coniston. Travellers and shepherds that get caught out with the weather on the most exposed part of this south facing route can enjoy a welcome shelter large enough for two people at a squeeze ... cosy indeed !

It was time to get a bit more serious with the ascent as I was starting to fight off todays approaching western mist on the Brown Pike to Dow Crag ridge route.

After the morning exercise, it was time for a rest and to take in the view south towards my ascent route, south Cumbria, Morecambe Bay and the distant Fylde peninsula of Blackpool and Fleetwood.

... and to sample from my rucksack the almost intact well filled cheese savoury sandwiches from the Picnic Box shop in Ambleside.

Despite the ascent route following the edge of a sheer drop and rock climbers haven, the path is relatively straightforward. The rock summit of Dow Crag (778m) requires a little more care as it isn't an appropriate place to have lunch. I had to enjoy the contents of my rucksack from a small grassy plain ... nearer the edge of the cliff !

Goats Hawse

After lunch it was time to press on and descend to what seemed like the half way point of the walk and observe my high level clockwise route around Goats Water to Dow Crag on the right.

Sheep's House

Climbing up on the other side of the valley, it looked like this sheep has been misbehaving and was being severely punished for it !!

Eventually the ground levels out into almost cricket pitch terrain and the most northerly point of the walk is the amazing cairn on top of Brim Fell. Crinkle Crags (an earlier post and walk of this week) and Bowfell are seen in the background to the left.

Although the last section of the walk to the summit of The Old Man of Coniston doesn't look difficult, I had to think of a password to get past the sheep !!

Thankfully he let me past and I was able to enjoy views towards Coniston village and Lake....

...whilst not forgetting the imposing and yet magnificent Dow Crag in the other direction

The Trig point and summit of OMC that so many budding mountaineers have conquered !!

Just to point out that the view to the left is the title photo ... depicting the Old Man of Coniston ... apologies to him as he was sat in the ... right place !!

There remained a small matter of getting down the mountain, I did give the idea of hitching a lift down to the car park a brief thought ......

So I had to join the rest of the happy climbers on the rough slate descent route .....

"No Mother, I'm not walking any further " !


  1. What rugged country! Coniston is the place I first saw on a PBS special about sheepherding dogs. There's a guy who lives there and runs Yew Tree Farm, I think it is, as well as being a shepherd. Fascinating TV special, and after watching that, it made me want to go there some day. It does not look like an easy place to access! Very scary terrain if in a vehicle! (I hope you didn't try 'mutton' as a password for that sheep!) ;-)

  2. Another grand post and of an area I've not been to.
    An interesting set of photographs but I especially like the sheep on the naughty step.

  3. you keep on trekking in wonderful places. I always admire the seep you are showing on your pictures:)

  4. Your post made me feel like going to the mountains just now:)
    Terrific place to trek. I love the misty photos - mist makes everything so mysterious, doesn't it?
    As for these 4x4 vehicles, well, they are allowed in the mountains here and there are so many of them that sometimes it's difficult to hike, not mention to enjoy the nature!

  5. That's beautiful. I'm fascinated by that little rock shelter. The weather would have to be pretty bad to make it look comfortable!

  6. Again a wonderful trip whic led to these nice photos, J_on _tour! I like the landscape in the first photo, so much alike with our mountains, and that of the little stone bridge.

  7. I loved taking the virtual walk with you, it was very scenic and well captured.

    I am so glad it was sheep that was asking for the password and not a cow. Cows are much more intimidating and less easily satisfied! :-/

  8. Kuddos to you for all this magnificient trekking, and for the wonderful photographic work!

    'Goats House' spot is fascinating , so are the rock summit of Dow Crag, the stone shelter, the 'Sheep house'.

  9. Wow! The first photo amazes me. Reading and scrolling more this entry is a wonderful trip. I love all the photos esp the mist image with a person on red. Amazing!!! :)

  10. You do hike in the best places. I do like the image of the sheep under the rock. Wonder what he has been up to? lol

  11. P.S. Thanks for being a sympathetic soul regarding IKEA. :-)

  12. Another great post. You are taking us with you
    to incredible places..
    I only would prefer to flight down, then to walk!

    Hugs from me, dear J.!!!

  13. What a lovely place to hike- very scenic with great views in all directions. You saw some interesting sights along the way too. Thanks for coming by my blog- I always appreciate your nice comments. Mickie :)

  14. ...and it turns out that the Yew Tree Farm at Coniston is the 'other' Yew Tree Farm - not where Joe Relph and Border Collies live. I'm planning on putting up a small post about that other Yew Tree Farm on Friday. I should just link to your blog post on Coniston! :-)


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