Properly known as The Old Man of Coniston this Lakeland peak is a mere 803m (2634 feet) high, and a good deal less challenging than many other walks in the Lakes and elsewhere. This doesn't mean it's easy. If you aren't fit or on good health you may well struggle. Similarly you should bear in mind how quickly the weather can change at any time of the year here. Make sure you let someone know where you are going, check the weather and ideally make sure you know where you are going. That means a map and compass along with the experience to go with them, something you should have to help keep you safe even if you have a gps. We've started up the Old Man of Coniston in gorgeous sunny weather and before coming down have been been through high winds, rain, hailstone and thunderstorms. If you are caught in heavy cloud
you could easily lose track of your heading if you don't know what you are doing. One other point worth mentioning is that like many parts of the Lake District getting a signal for your mobile phone can be difficult or impossible so don't assume you can rely on it to get you out of trouble.
That said, this is a delightful place to visit. There are essentially four main approaches, a) running up Church Beck towards Coppermines but then heading up Stubthwaite Crag past Low Water, b) heading across from Swirl How to the North at a very similar height, c) walking over Dow Crag after leaving the Walna Scar Road (which itself can be reached from the direction of Coniston or Seathwaite and d) heading around the northern end of Seathwaite Tarn before heading up to Leaver Hawse or Goats Hawse on the way to the Old Man of Coniston. If you are only heading for the Old Man of Coniston rather than including it as part of a longer walk then perhaps the nicest approach is over Dow Crag the top of which can include a little scrambling that can still be by-passed if you feel it's too much. The views across to your destination are good for much of the way and the rugged views down to Goat's water are impressive and make for good photo opportunities. If you take this route and cross towards the Old Man of Coniston via Goats Hawse be careful to pick up the right hand track where it forks as the final walki uphill begins. If you miss this it's easy to find yourself detouring towards Swirl How then having to make your way back to pick up the right path. If the thought of this is a bit much it is a shorter and therefore steeper route up Stubthwaite Crag but there are stretches here that are almost as good as steps that some may actually find easier for this reason. The views aren't as good, they aren't as expansive, but they do include Low Water, the tarn that you walk behind as you climb to the top. Once there, especially in good weather, you will almost certainly find a number of other people enjoying the views. If like me you find a bit of solitary walking an important part of the fun to get away from it all then this can be a little off putting, so a seriously early start might be best. If the presence of other people makes you feel more at ease then they could be welcome sight, but leave yourself enough time to get up and down while it's light unless you have the experience for night navigation.
At the top the views are very good, not the best in the Lakes, but good and well worth the effort. You can easily see all the way down past Heysham and may be able to see Wales in the distance. The Isle of Man doesn't seem so far away and the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway is clearly visible in decent weather. Closer to home you can see Coniston laid out below on one side and the rugged plummeting rocks of Dow Crag becoming steep scree slopes on their way to Goats Water. To look back at that and think that you walked over the top is one if the points that adds merit to the route over Dow Crag and the whole trip, if you head up Walna Scar road from the rough parking at start of the track and down over Stubblethwaite Crag can be done in around 6 miles. If you want a short hill walk, want to add a good feature into a longer walk, or want to make a nice start into some proper hillwalking then the Old Man of Coniston has something for you.
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