The Old Man of Coniston is a real special mountain. It’s easy to navigate and riddled with slate mining ruins to explore.

Distance: 12km
Time: 5 hours
Activity Level: Strenuous
Navigation Level: Medium
Path condition: Good, some loose slate then steps followed by more open fell land.


Stage 1
Park at Walna Scar car park. Many say it’s cheating as it several hundred metres above Coniston. However I’m often lacking in time and it save at least an hour.

But from the car park head along the wide level path for about a a Kilometre. You can then hang a left where the main footpath joins. The path is still easy to follow, but you start to really climb. You also start to get in amongst the old slate mines. It’s a perfect excuse to take a breather and explore!

Carry on for another 20 to 30 minutes over an area of loose slate till you reach Lows Water. Another great spot, and to be honest if some members of the group don’t want to go to the top it’s a great place to relax with a flask of tea and a book.

Stage 2
Now it’s the big push to the top. It might only take 45 minutes, but it’s a good work out, primarily on steps cut up the side of the hill.

However once at the top, if it’s a clear day then you are in for an incredible view across the lakes and south to Morecambe Bay and across the Irish sea to the Isle of Man.

Stage 3
If you haven’t left somebody at Lows Water, the conditions are good and you feel energised then I thoroughly recommend heading North along the ridge to Swirl How. The walking is almost freeing after the steep uphill climb. The slope is a gentle undulation, which allows you to get your breath back and take in the stunning scenery.

Stage 4
Downhill from here! Coming off Swirl How it is rocky and slow going as you reverse scramble down the crags.

Once you reach the cross paths you can choose to head up to Whetherlem to complete the circuit. But if you’ve parked up by Walna Scar then it’s easiest to turn right and head down to Levers Water. The path does become a bit more difficult to follow as you go through bogs and get off the beaten track. But generally aim for the big bit of water down the hill.

Take a breather and enjoy Levers Water before contouring round it, crossing the dam and heading up through the rocks and back to the main path. It’s now only a couple of kilometres back to the car park.

There, you’ve done it! I’d recommend heading down to the Black Bull Pub in Coniston for a well earned pint.