Old Man of Coniston
Distance: 7½ miles / 12 kilometers
Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Map: OS Explorer OL7 - The Lake District: South-Eastern area
The Old Man of Coniston sits within the Furness Fells of the Lake District. The hill rises up 2,634 feet (803 m) high and stands as a commanding feature over Coniston village. The area has seen extensive slate mining activity for eight hundred years and the remains of abandoned mines and spoil tips are a significant feature of the north-east slopes and this hill is no exception. In the 1800's slate replaced copper, and over several hundred years, the Old Man Slate Quarries & Mines became some of the largest in England. Though the hill actually sits within the borders of Lancashire, it is administered by Cumbria.
There are various routes up to the Old Man of Coniston, this route is the shortest and the most direct to its summit. The route well managed and clearly defined. Though it is fairly strenuous, it is also one of the most popular, with walkers of all ages and abilities stretching their legs and taking in its many offerings. The route can get quite busy at weekends and bank holidays during the summer months.
The strenuous route rewards the effort with some beautiful scenery as it passes through the old mine workings. Many of the buildings are in good condition considering their age. It is worth taking a wee pause here, to explore the old mine workings and to take in the views, before continuing on to Low Water Tarn. The tarn is a great place for a picnic or a cuppa. The views of the surrounding area are magnificant and much of the cause of the hill's popularity, particularly during the good weather months. The trek up to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston is only a few hundred yards, but it is a steep ascent, the path zigzags up the hill which takes out some! of the steepness. Ascending the hill on a hot day feels more like a mountain challenge rather than a hike up a hill. From the summit on clear days Morcambe and the Irish Sea can be seen over to the west.
The descent down to Levers Water reservoir gives some great views of the valley below and over Coniston Water. The very picturesque Levers Water reservoir sits above Coppermines Valley, the tarn was enlarged with a dam in 1717 and now supplies water to Coniston and the surrounding villages.