Coniston Old Man from the north

Coniston Old Man, as viewed on the approach from Brim Fell. A good roll cloud in the background.

Height: 2633 feet above sea level.

Volume: Book 4 (The Southern Fells)

Date climbed: First visit: 24th September 2010 (walk 25). Second visit: 26th July 2017 (walk 132).

Bagged as number: First round: 80 out of 330. [ << Brim Fell (79)  (81) Great Cockup >> ]

Old Man from the lake

The Old Man seen from the lake

Second round: 108 of 330. [ << Cold Pike (107)  (109) Brim Fell >> ]

Route of ascent and descent: First visit: Approached along the ridge from Brim Fell and then descended by the tourist path to Coniston.

Second visit: Reversed all this.

What Mr Wainwright says (from page 4 of his chapter): “The highest (by a few feet) and best-known of the Coniston Fells is the Old Man, a benevolent giant revered by generations of walkers and of particular esteem in the eyes of the inhabitants of the village he shelters, for he has contributed much to their prosperity. The Old Man is no Matterhorn, nor Coniston a Zermatt, but an affinity is there is the same close links between mountain and village, and the history of one is the history of the other. Coniston without its Old Man is unthinkable.

Old Man summit

Old Man summit cairn

“Yet the Old Man has little significance in the geographical arrangements hereabouts, the true hub of this group of hills being Swirl How, a summit of slightly lower elevation northwards. The Old Man is merely the termination of Swirl How’s main ridge and ends high Lakeland in the south: the last outpost, looking far over the sea.”

What I say: Coniston Old Man is an interesting fell rather than a particularly dramatic one. There are no crags or natural features of real note — Dow Crag is going to likely be the most impressive and memorable object on any walk in this area — although Low Water is rather cute. However, it has two big selling points: firstly the view, which on a clear day is really spectacular. Second, the interest provided by the old quarries on the way up from Coniston. That path is rather disparaged on page 8 of Wainwright’s chapter, but it didn’t seem that bad, and the old quarry workings (complete with collapsed aerial cable, which you now have to climb over and under at a couple of points) were attractive in their own fashion.  Between them these two aspects make it worth a visit.

Coniston Old Man from Wetherlam

Coniston Old Man from Wetherlam. Quarries clearly visible to the left; Low Water almost hidden above them; Levers Water to the right.

[ << Cold Pike     Crag Fell >> ]


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