The Old Man of Coniston

  • The Old Man of Coniston: Wonderful ridge north of Old Man, Scafells behind - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Coniston and the Old Man 2 - © Flickr user Mike Bean
  • The Old Man of Coniston: A walk up the Old Man of Coniston - © Flickr user Becky
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Coniston and the Old Man 4 - © Flickr user Mike Bean
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Low water, from the Old Man of Coniston - © Flickr user Barney Moss
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Coniston and the Old Man 3 - © Flickr user Mike Bean
  • The Old Man of Coniston: A walk up the Old Man of Coniston 2 - © Flickr user Becky
  • The Old Man of Coniston: A walk up the Old Man of Coniston 3 - © Flickr user Becky
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Coniston and the Old Man - © Flickr user Mike Bean
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Old Man of Coniston, Lake District - © Flickr user Ross Harwood
  • The Old Man of Coniston: The Old Man of Coniston with a topping of cloud - © Flickr user Jonathan Meddings
  • The Old Man of Coniston: North across Old Man of Coniston flanks - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston:  From Old Man summit - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Wonderful ridge north of Old Man - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Old Man summit ridge, Scafells behind - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Dow Crag from Old man of Coniston - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Helvellyn from Great How Crags - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Looking south from Great How alog ridge to Old Man - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Looking west - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Flat high ridge near Swirl How - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Scafell group from Swirl how - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: East to Langdale valley from Swirl How - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: North from Swirl How, P of Blisco near, Skiddaw far - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Crinkle Crags and Scafell group - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Sea and Isle of Man from Swirl How - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Wrynose Bottom - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: West Side Edge and Swirl How behind - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: West Side Edge and Great Carrs - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Langdale Pikes and Gt L valley from Pike of Blisco flank - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: Gt L valley from Pike of Blisco flank, October light - © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy
  • The Old Man of Coniston: © William Mackesy

Key information: The Old Man of Coniston

    One of Lakeland's most popular peaks: a fine mountain in southern Lakeland, with dramatic cliffs to its east and grand views all around. 

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating89
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest10
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating89
  • Note: Neg: Very popular

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 803m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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The Old Man of Coniston: Looking south from Great How alog ridge to Old Man - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

The Old Man of Coniston is a fine mountain in the south, with dramatic cliffs to its east and grand views all around, and one of Lakeland’s most popular peaks (and not just for its charming name), although this can have its disadvantages.

On a good day, the views are some of the best in the Lake District, and that is saying something! The glistening sands of Morcambe Bay, the Scafell group, the mountains receding northwards to Skiddaw and Helvellyn on the horizon, with long, slender Coniston Water to the east completing the visual feast.

Routes:

The main approach is from Coniston to the east, although the most direct routes take you through mine-scarred landscape.

The single best way to tackle the mountain is a circuit from Coniston, heading out south-west to approach from the south to Goat’s Water (even better, take in the lovely Dow Crag ridge, further west), then up to the Old Man summit.  While you are there, it would be a tragedy not to make the superb 3km or so ridge walk on northward across minor peaks to Swirl How, round east again to Wether Lam and back to Coniston. This is a long walk but one of the best in a walk-rich region.  You can also head on north-east to the Little Langdale Valley, making a wonderful descent along the long ridge via Great Carrs and West Side Edge, to join the Cumbria Way.

The approaches from Dunnerdale to the west are less used, but marvellous, with a ridge walk from Brown Pike to Dow Crag  and on to the Old Man, then to Levers Hawse (might as well nip on the Swirl How and back while at it)  then back down via Seathwait Tarn to make a really fantastic circuit.

Walkopedia walked the Old Man on a smaller path from the south, then on along the wonderful long ridge to Swirl How, then down via Great Carrs to the beautiful Little Langdale Valley (we then crossed the shoulder to the west of Pike of Blisco, to reach Great Langdale, back on the Cumbria Way) on a bright and vivid October day. After recent rain, the air was extraordinarily clear, and we could see the Isle of Man on the western horizon, the Scafell group as if they were a mile away and Skiddaw's cone on the northern horizon. One of our best ever UK walks.

The Lakes have lots of weather. While there are periods of glorious sunshine, come prepared for cloud and rain. Some of the Lakes’ most beautiful light is on showery, broken cloudy days, so don’t be disheartened by a mixed forecast!

This is demanding walking in mountains with treacherous weather. Come prepared, be ready to improvise: there is little point slogging up to the peak if in cloud.

There are no less than 25 inspiring Cicerone guidebooks on the Lake District (their speciality)! Have a look at their websiteFind relevant books here.

We always want to give more! Please help us by recommending your best walks and sending photos! Thank you!

See our Lake District [link] page for further photos and general and practical information.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

The Old Man of Coniston: Scafell group from Swirl how - © William Mackesy

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

The Old Man of Coniston: Sea and Isle of Man from Swirl How - © William Mackesy

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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The Old Man of Coniston: Flat high ridge near Swirl How - © William Mackesy...
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