Coniston Caper

I never normally win competitions. Even a couple of weeks after winning a day out at from the lovely Coppermines Youth Hostel, I was convinced that there must have been an error about the winner. My journey across to Cumbria involved a bus, a metro and two trains followed by three buses Were it not for the kindness of a driver who phoned ahead to ask my bus to wait for me at Windermere, I would have  missed the last bus from Ambleside to Coniston.

Coniston Coppermines
Coniston Coppermines Youth Hostel

Walking a mile up a dark road from Coniston to Coppermines YHA hostel was more than my cheap head torch could cope with, so I was glad when another person headed for the hostel stopped to offer me a lift. Coppermines is a lovely, unpretentious hostel beside a working quarry. It has wonderful views from every window in daylight, a nice big kitchen and a coal burning stove in the lounge. I spent a nice evening meeting the other people on the first of two planned hikes.

1/ Swirl How, Brim Fell & Coniston Old Man. 6 miles / 9.5km. Strenuous.
2/ Tarn Hows circular walk. 6 miles / 9.5km. Leisurely

Both of these routes are available to download from Viewranger 

1/ Swirl How, Brim Fell & Coniston Old Man. 6 miles / 9.5km. Strenuous.

I felt this opportunity would be a chance to stretch my boundaries as a walker. Next morning a group of us set off alongside the waterfall towards Levers Water. Apart from the unfamiliar scree surfaces, I coped with the climb up to Prison band where we sat down for a brief lunch.

Prison Band
Lunch at Prison Band

At this point we put on warmer layers in preparation for the cold winds on the ridge path which connects the 3 fells; Swirl How, Brim Fell and the Old Man. The next section involved more hands on scrambling and precise footwork than I am used to. Once we reached the summit cairn at Swirl How, it is an easy but lunar looking walk along the ridge path over Brim Fell (which is easy to miss) to the Old Man.

I felt elated once we made it to the ridge. To the west we could just make out the Isle of Man and to the east was a great view of Coniston water and the village with Lake Windermere in the background.

View of Coniston from Coniston Old Man

As a trail bagger I have sometimes wondered what summit bagging was all about, but this trip gave me some insight into the rewards. With a range as famous as the Cumbrian Fells it is very hard not to start a list of the ones you have done or to resist the temptation of doing more.

Waterfall Coniston Old Man
Waterfall near Levers Water

I felt a sense of accomplishment about summiting the Old Man of Coniston and I can see the allure of this lovely part of the Southern Fells. I would like to thank the company involved for a great day out.

Coniston Old Man
Coniston Old Man Circular. Viewranger and Ordnance Survey ©
2/ Tarn Hows Circular Walk. 6 miles / 9.5km. Leisurely

The following day I went walking on my own again due to a fall the previous day. The route I planned was a fairly gentle 6 mile, low level, circular walk with lovely views of the surrounding fells and of Coniston water. I chose the route partly because I have fond memories of visiting Tarn Hows as a child, and partly to get an impression of the Cumbria Way which I hope to walk later this year.

Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows near Coniston

The route I planned took the Cumbria Way northwards towards Tarn Hows and followed the scenic National Trust walk around the tarn before returning to Coniston by different lowland footpaths.

Path to Coniston
Path back to Coniston

When I arrived back into the village of Coniston, I went to a local cafe for some tea. Once I had finished I wound my way back up the lane to the hostel, where I spend a tranquil night, curled up in front of the fire which the warden had lit.

Tarn Howes
Coniston to Tarn Hows Circular. Viewranger and Ordnance Survey ©

3 thoughts on “Coniston Caper

  1. Follow up: I am pleased to say that I completed the Cumbria Way in May 2013 pausing by the lovely Tarn Hows for lunch and an ice cream. This epic walk included my fourth Wainwright (High Pike in the Northern Fells) and was a stunning introduction to many parts of the Lake District National Park. The write up can be found under Trails on this blog.


  2. Hi Rose
    found your video of walk from copper mines to Tarn Hows on Twitter and enjoyed it, you picked a nice route; found your website here. Our South Lakes National Trust team looks after much of this Coniston/Tarn Hows area; you might be interested in their weekly blog or follow them and others in the NTsouthlakes team on twitter . Good luck with the Cumbria Way this year. Linda.


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