One of the advantages of working in the Lake District is being able to head off for a mountain climb after work. Having been in Coniston in the afternoon, I decided to climb the Old Man of Coniston (or Coniston Old Man). I remember climbing that fell when I was younger with my family and a few years ago with my husband as part of the whole Coniston Fells ridge walk. I was in the mood for company so I took the popular tourist path up from the Walna Scar path.
|Abandoned Mine Entrance|
I have mentioned in recent blogs (see 'Friends, Gables & Tarns') that I am quite a slow walker but within the first few minutes I had overtaken four people! The fact that two of them were aged 18 (months that is, not years) I will gloss over and move on. The path is clear the whole route to the summit but the most fascinating part of the route is looking at the old quarry and mining works around. Enormous steel ropes and pipes surround (and sometimes cross) the path and there are large mounds of slate with the occasional slate hut and tunnel entrance in ruins. Down in the Coppermine Valley you can also still see the evidence of the old mines. These mines were at their most active in the 1850s and whilst Copper Pyrite was the main focus, iron, lead, nickel and cobalt were also found. The mines closed in 1915.
|Reflections on a tranquil Low Water|
The other highlight of this route is Low Water, which sits in the hollow below the Old Man of Coniston and Brim Fell. The still water nestled below the rugged slopes and crags was a beautiful sight to behold and despite how busy the path was, Low Water was a place of tranquillity.
The final ascent to the summit was steep but the views back towards the village of Coniston and down to Low Water were lovely. The summit was popular that day as it is most days and you can see why – looking across to the Scafells, Langdale Pikes (even a glimpse of Stickle Tarn in the distance) and to Dow Crag, the whole Coniston Fell ridge, Coniston Water and even to Windermere was superb. Spectacular views that it was great to see so many people enjoying late that afternoon.
|Low Water & Lever's Water in the background|
I found a quieter place to sit and soak up the views as a light mist started to creep through the valley. It was an eerie but lovely sight to see and as I was sitting there sipping water, emerging from the mist one by one from a grassy slope appeared a group of school children and their teachers all wearing hard hats. It was like something out of a Bronte novel (other than the hard hats of course). As they reached the summit, each one cheered and ran towards the cairn.
I decided to head off towards Brim Fell as it was only a short stroll but as I reached the summit the rain started so I decided to head back. As I walked back towards Coniston Old Man, I saw a woman after my own heart strolling towards me. She was wearing the most fabulous bright pink knee-high socks over jeans and was sheltering under a floral umbrella. Well – why not I suppose? She had a certain style about her that is for sure!
|Imposing Dow Crag|
I took the less popular route down rather than the tourist path and after overtaking the previously mentioned school children who were on the same route (yes overtaking again and an improvement on 18 months as they must have been ten or 11 years old) I branched off to take the path around the quarry. Well it said it was a path but it seemed quite random to me. I actually ended up in the old quarry at one point (not entirely sure I was supposed to be there), which was fascinating with the large boulders everywhere but then managed to pick up the path again at the edge and followed it down to the Walna Scar path again beside a lovely stream.
|I like her style!|
A great walk if you are in the mood for company and a deservedly popular mountain.