The Old Man of Coniston
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 rating89
- Natural interest16
- Human interest10
- Negative points1
- Total rating89
- Note: Neg: Very popular
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 803m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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.
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.
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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.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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