This was a walk I’d wanted to do for a while now – a traverse of the Coniston Fells taking in the Old Man, Brim Fell, Swirl How and Wetherlam. I’d originally booked at the Shepherd’s Bridge B&B for two nights but extended it for another one when the weather forecast was looking better for the Thursday and I wanted a good chance of decent weather and good views.
It was going to be a long day so I set out at 9:30. I’d decided to tackle the round from East to West, starting at Wetherlam and ending on the Old Man. This was mainly because there was a steep section between Wetherlam and Swirl How and I thought it would be easier on my knees going up rather than down.
I started by heading up Copper Mine Valley. The name betrays the area’s history. Coniston was an industrial area from Elizabethan times (and possibily earlier) with copper mines and slate quarries in the valley and on the sides of the fells – and the landscape bears witness to this.
It must have been an extremely hard life working up on and amongst the fells.
I turned off the valley floor following the path leading across the pass to Tilberthwaite before cutting across to climb up the path towards the first fell I would traverse – Wetherlam.
To my left there was a good view of The Old Man of Coniston
As I climbed views opened up behind me back over to Coniston Water
I continued to climb – the summit began to come into view
I started to get a good view of Swirl How
I eventually reached the summit.
Looking over towards the Scafells
Great views with most of the major Lake District fells visible as well as Windermere, Esthwaite Water and Coniston Water.
It was windy on the top so I found a sheltered spot to have a bite to eat before setting off towards my next destination – Swirl How. This required descending down to Swirl Hawse before the steep climb and scramble up the Prison Band.
I don’t know why this broad ridge is called the Prison Band, but for a while it seemed I had been sentenced to hard labour!
I was up on the summit quicker than I expected, again being battered by the wind. But the views were good.
After a short stop to chat with a couple who’d arrived at the top just before me, and who took a photo of me by the cairn (so I could prove to family and friends that I got there!) I carried on walking along the top of Swirl How before descending down to Lever Hawse and climbing up the next high point – Brim Fell.
Reaching the summit I headed on towards the final fell to conquer, the highest of the Coniston Fells, the Old Man of Coniston.
So another short descent before the climb up to the final summit.
When I made it to the top it was quite busy (it always is!) and windy. The views back across the ridge and down to Coniston Water made it worth it!
And there was Dow Cragg that I’d climbed the previous day
Now it was time to descend back down to Coppermine Valley. It’s a steep track up to the top and, so, down from the summit!
Looking down to Low Water, the small tarn in the basin below the summits of the Old Man and Brim Fell
Continuing to descend I passed the ruins and remains of the slate quarries passing a few tourists walking in the opposite direction who asked me “how far is it tot he top?”.
It was quite a walk down to the bottom of the valley but eventually the end came into view
Reaching the village it was warm and sunny so I called into the Co-op to buy a couple of cold drinks and returned to Shepherd’s Bridge where I spent some time relaxing in the sunshine in the garden.
A challenging walk but I’d made it in good time and an ambition achieved!