Start: Coniston, Cumbria
End: Coniston, Cumbria
Distance: 13 miles
Ascent: Around 3,000 feet
Time: 8 hours
Getting there: 505 bus from Coniston to Ambleside, runs every hour during the day – but we were staying in Coniston.
Food and loos: Lots of options in Coniston for food and drink, and there are public loos.
Terrain: Regular paths with no difficulty, only getting rougher nearing the top of the Old Man and Brim Fell. The path from Goats Water to the Wilma Scar Road is also fairly rough in places.
Difficulty: 3 – nothing particularly tricky, but a long walk.
A classic Lakeland adventure, and it didn’t disappoint.
There are so many options for getting into the heart of the Coniston fells, but I decided that I would go up to Low Water via some of them old mining platforms to get a sense of this place’s history. It is certainly strange to be walking alongside old pulley mechanisms, tramlines and ruined buildings. A mining ghost town built on blood, sweat and endeavour.
Approaching Low Water, the track becomes more rugged. But there the zig zag path makes for a relatively easy ascent. The path becomes even more rugged in the last few hundred yards, but the route is never in doubt, The views from the summit of the Old Man are lovely, with the views down to Low Water being the pick. Fortunately there is an OS trig point by the edge of the cliff face, giving you another point of contact to confidently get a good view over the edge!
The walk down to Brim Fell is simple – a wide and well cairned path marks the way. Similarly, the route down to Goats Water House is just as straight forward, if a little steeper. Only when on Dow Crag was the path become much more rugged. There is also the sense of being uncomfortably close to some nasty drops!
Whilst at the summit of Dow Crag, the weather worsened significantly. Within a matter of seconds the clouds has descended, and conditions went from full visibility to no more than 10 feet. It was very difficult to make out what was the ridge and what was cliff edge. I decided the best course of action was to retrace my steps back to Goats Hause, down to Goats Water and along the Wilma Scar Road back to Coniston. The climb back down to the hause was fairly nerve-racking in the conditions, and it certainly felt like a lot longer than the 20 minutes it took.
The cloud level was sufficiently low enough that you couldn’t see Goats Water. It’s a rough path down, but nothing too strenuous. The path gets even rough along the banks of Goats Water, and the on the path to pick up the Wilma Scar track.
Then it’s a long slog back along the Wilma Scar Road back to Coniston. A walk that is made even longer if you (unsuccessfully) backtrack looking for a glove that has harakaried itself out of your pocket somewhere along the route.