All the Walking Routes up Coniston Old Man

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Coniston Old Man is the highest peak in the Furness Fells at 803 metres in height and one of the most popular destinations for fell-walking in the Lake District and is one of Wainwright’s Southern Fells. Having the village of Coniston and Coniston Water at it’s base certainly helps cement that popularity. It has seen extensive slate quarrying over centuries, with these dominating the walks up from Coniston village.

As such, the Old Man of Coniston has a surprising number of routes to the summit from all directions. Some are busy, others quiet and almost non-existent on the ground, so there’s a choice for all types of fell walker.

Why is it called Coniston Old Man or Old Man of Coniston, or even just The Old Man? Simply put, ‘old man’ is an Norse for pile of stones or cairn and Coniston is the King’s Town. So it roughly translates as the Old Cairn of King’s Town.

Coniston Old Man Weather Forecast: Met Office Lake Distrct Mountain Weather

Recommended Coniston Old Man Maps : ORDNANCE SUVEY Explorer OL6 – SW LakesORDNANCE SURVEY Explorer OL4 The English Lakes  , Lake District BMC (British Mountain Map)

For Coniston Old Man, we recommend Cicerone’s guidebook – The Southern Fells (Lakeland Fellranger) or the usual Wainwright’s Book 4: Southern Fells

Here’s a rundown of all the walking routes up Coniston Old Man

NOTE – if ascending from the Walna Scar Car Park rather than from Coniston, reduce the distance by about 1.5km and the scent by 210 metres, saving around 30-40 minutes.

Coniston Old Man From Coniston

Height Gained – 720 metres ,  Distance – 4.7 km, Time –2.5 hours 

The direct route is by far the most popular walk up Coniston Old Man, and as such the busiest. Starting from Coniston, it’s also the most convenient path. The path starts by heading up on a metalled road for a good distance before you reach the car park used by lazier/wiser fell walkers. From this car park, an excellent track continues on and over Big Hill and The Bell before passing through the ruins of the slate quarry which is either fascinating industrial archaeology or a desecration of our natural landscape. The path then climbs to the tarn of Low Water which should please everyone, before the final sharp pull to the summit of Old Man.

You can alternatively continue from the slate quarries up towards Lever’s Water for a longer approach.

Yet another alternative is to ascend from Coniston via Church Beck and Miner’s Bridge. You can either take a direct route and join this route at Crowberry Haws or walk via the Coniston Coppermines Youth Hostel for a longer route. You can also start this walk from the YHA hostel.

Mud and Route’s own Nia Jenkins didn’t get the ideal weather on her recent walk up the Old Man, but still thoroughly enjoyed it!

Coniston Old Man Via Goat’s Water

Height Gained – 730 metres,  Distance – 6.5 km  , Time –3 hours

This is a longer route, that ascends The Old Man via Walna Scar Road and the mountain tarn of Goat’s Water. Ascending to the col of Goat’s Hause, it then climbs up to contour to the south of Black Crag and to the summit. This walk can also start at Coniston or the Walna Scar car park mentioned above. Walna Scar Road was open to all traffic until around 2006, when it was re-classified as a bridleway – however some green laners are looking to get this re-classified.

All the Walking Routes up Coniston Old Man

Coniston Old Man via the Jack Diamond Path

Height Gained – 700 metres,  Distance – 4 km, Time –2.5 hours.

The Jack Diamond path is the shortest and quickest path to the summit of Coniston Old Man, especially if you set off from the upper car park. The Jack Diamond path offers an alternative to the usual tourist route from Coniston by heading off along the Walna Scar Road and taking a very direct path up Coniston Old Man’s southern slopes. You’ll join the main path just blow the summit, but it should at least be a bit quieter up to that point. Again, start at Coniston or the Walna Scar car park.

All the Walking Routes up Coniston Old Man

Coniston Old Man via Walna Scar Road and Dow Crag

Height Gained – 910 metres,  Distance – 8.5 km, Time –3 hours.

This route takes on a slightly higher approach than that via Goat’s Tarn and ascends via Brown Pike and Dow Crag rather than directly to Goat’s Hause. This is yet another walk that can start from Coniston or from the higher car park.

All the Walking Routes up Coniston Old Man

Coniston Old Man from Torver

Height Gained – 825 metres,  Distance –8 km, Time –3 hours.

Both the Walna Scar and Goat Water routes can be started from Torver via Walna Scar Road. This is essentially the approach from the West as well.

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Coniston Old Man from Seathwaite Dunnerdale

Height Gained – 820 metres,  Distance – 7.5 km, Time –3 hours.

You can approach Coniston Old Man from the west, which is basically just a variation on the Walna Scar route. It starts off by ascending the Walna Scar Road and joins the Walna Scar Route at Brown Pike. You’ll need to return the same way or make for a longer route by descending either via Seathwaite Tarn or up and over Grey Friar. This is best for those based in the valley as parking will be an issue.

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Coniston Old Man from the North – Various

Height Gained – various,  Distance – various, Time –various

This is a scrappier approach – as in it can be approached from numerous starting points. You can start from Seathwaite and a walk up via Seathwaite tarn to Levers Hause . You can also use this route to ascend via Grey Friar. Alternatively, you can take the long way round from this direction and climb Wetherlam for a satisfying and more challenging horseshoe route. You can also join this route via Lever’s Water from Coniston – either directly on a steep path or via Swirl Hause, Prison Band and over Swirl How which is only a metre shorter than The Old Man of Coniston.

All the Walking Routes up Coniston Old Man

Finally – the approach from the North can also be started from the Wrynose Pass. This is a problematic route in that there are no natural returns, other than walking a linear route or an out and back. This route takes you over Little Carrs and Swirl How.

Have we missed your favourite route up? Let us know in the comments below.

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