The Old Man of Coniston

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The old man of Coniston, the highest point on the ridge of mountains that make up the Furness Fells, dominated the view over the lake from our cottage. It used to be the highest point in Lancashire until the local government reorganisation took “Lancashire over the sands” into the newly formed county of Cumbria. It was begging to be climbed. On the last day of our holiday, although some rain was forecast, conditions looked promising. So we packed up the car, drove into Coniston village, parked up and set off.

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We took the “tourist route” up the mountain. Past the Sun Hotel

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Along the lane and through the five bar gate

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following the river, past the waterfall

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and up along Coppermines valley. The reason for the name is pretty obvious. Coniston used to be a centre for copper mining and slate quarrying (some quarrying still goes on today) and the industrial heritage is very obvious for a good part of the climb up to the Old Man by this route. On the other side of the valley we could see the houses that used to be the homes of miners and quarry workers but which today have been converted to holiday homes and a Youth Hostel

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A relatively gentle climb at first

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It started to get steeper as we passed through the old abandoned slate quarry workings and spoil heaps. Not a particularly pretty site but  interesting as a relic of industrial history. But there were also views of surrounding mountains and the lakeland valleys

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We eventually reached Low Water, a small tarn in a glacial bowl with the summits of the Old Man and Brim fell looming over. There was barely a breeze and the surface of the tarn was like a mirror, reflecting the surrounding peaks.

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We rested for a while before tackling the final steep section up to the summit. Looking back there were great views of the tarn and the other peaks.

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As we climbed the views opened up. We could see the whole of Coniston Water

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Eventually we made it to the summit

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To be welcomed by some excellent views.

Looking over to the Scafel range, including Scafel Pike, England’s highest mountain

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Over towards the Duddon estuary

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Back down to Coniston Water and Morecambe Bay. We could even see the Isle of Man on the horizon to the north west (hard to capture on a photo, though.

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Over to the north west there were dark clouds and we saw a tornado up in the sky (although it didn’t reach the ground)

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After taking a rest and admiring the view, we decided to walk along the ridge over Brim Fell

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To our right, we could see Levers Water, another tarn, slightly larger than Low Water.

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and to our left, Seathwaite Tarn

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We walked over Brim Fell, and although we would have liked to continue further along the ridge, as we hadn’t planned for this and hadn’t sufficient supplies, decided to descend via the steep path from Levers Hawse down towards Levers Tarn. It was a little hairy at first as it was steep, the path wasn’t easily discernable and we were descending on scree.

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But the route soon turned into a more distinct path and became less steep as we descended.

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We skirted the side of the tarn, passing old abandoned copper mines

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We took a short break by the side of the tarn admiring the views of Great How, Swirl How and Weartherlam.

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Before heading back down to the village along the north side of Coppermines Valley.

Reaching the village it ws time for a brew! before getting back into the car and heading for home.

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