Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Old Man of Coniston

The Old Man of Coniston from north
Thursday 5 July 2018

Ascent:        731 metres
Distance:     9.5 kilometres
Time:           3 hours

Brown Pike                         682m           57 mins
Buck Pike                           744m    1hr  10 mins
Dow Crag                           778m    1hr  22mins
Brim Fell                            796m    1hr  58mins
The Old Man of Coniston   803m    2hrs 10mins

The week of good weather kept giving so I made an early start to walk before the heat became too overbearing. I left Langdale at 7:35am and after a couple of false turns found the car park at the top of the road to Walna Scar above Coniston. I was walking by 8:10am. There were already half a dozen cars parked and at least a couple of overnight campers in the car park. With the morning sun behind me, I made good progress on the stony track that heads westwards towards Walna Scar. An elderly man on a fully specced mountain bike was fearlessly descending a stone staircase and gave me a cheery "bloody great morning".

After a couple of kilometres, the path to Goat's Water headed off to the north, there were three parties heading in that direction. I continued and used the good track to take me up to 600 metres. A geology student from Edge Hill was examining the rocks for her summer assignment and she told me some of the findings. I followed a narrow path to some old mine workings and gave myself a steep climb of 80 metres to reach the summit of Brown Pike. Had I continued on the Walna Scar track for another minute there would have been a perfect easy graded path to the summit. From here to Buck Pike and then on to Dow Crag was easy walking along the ridge with good views to the Scafell range and across Goat's Water to the Old Man. I stopped for a few minutes on Dow Crag to take some refreshment, not too long as the rocky summit was swarming with flies.

There is a 130-metre drop down a rocky ridge before the path begins to ascend to the Old Man. Halfway up the path, I cut to the left to climb the grass to the flattish summit of Brim Fell. Views to the nearby peaks of Swirl How and Grey Friar in the north and the mine workings around Low Water gave some character to the fairly mundane summit. It is an easy stroll up to the Old Man of Coniston and a dozen or so other walkers were rambling about also seeking to get their walks completed early. I descended a hundred metres down the main path  before turning south to follow an indistinct footpath to the massive disused quarry. There was a bit of route finding around the quarry before a good footpath down to the Walna Scar road.

Three runners were going past as I arrived and I joined them for the final kilometre to the car as I was trying to complete the round in 3 hours. Two older Canadians were on a week's hill running holiday in the Lakes accompanied by a guide from Ambleside. We spent 10 minutes talking hills and where to go in Scotland when they visit next week. I was back at Langdale by 11:30 am, well ahead of schedule.

Walna Scar Road and Brown Pike
Blind Tarn and Brown Pike from Buck Pike
Goat's Water and the Old Man
Dow Crag summit
Brim Fell summit
Low Water and Coniston from Brim Fell
Dow Crag from the Old Man
Low Water and Slate workings from the Old Man
Disused Slate Quarry south-east of the Old Man of Coniston

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