The Coniston Round
This epic outing visits all of the main peaks on the Coniston group. One of the all-time great Lake District day outs
Route Start Location: Coniston tourist information centre
|23.21 km||1617 m||8 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Strenuous Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
Toilets can be found in the tourist information centre car park while Coniston village has plenty of pubs to keep the thirst at bay
Treat the old mine workings with respect and do not enter any of the mine entrances. Unmarked shafts and adits (horizontal entrances) may exist.
Excellent navigation skills will be required if the weather is poor.
Ruskin Avenue, LA21 8EH
Payable everyday 9am to 6pm including Sunday and Bank Holidays
- up to 2 hours: £3.00
- 3 hours: £4.20
- 4 hours: £5.40
- 5 hours: £6.60
- 9 hours: £8.00
505 (Coniston Rambler) bus from Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside and Hawkshead
X12 bus from Ulverston
The Coniston Round
A visit to Coniston is almost unimaginable without climbing its most famed peak; the Old Man of Coniston. It dominates the village with the summit being barely 3km from the centre (although some 600m higher!). It is popular with walkers and tourist alike as several, well-marked paths snake up to the summit.
For the peak baggers among you, there are a total of seven Wainwright summits in the Coniston Fells, all of which can be reached on this epic outing from Coniston. There are several options to shorten the day, however, walking the entire group brings a certain sense of satisfaction. Save this one for a long summer day and enjoy some of the best walking in the Lake District.
The Coniston Round Route Description
1 – Starting from the car park in Coniston, you will need to make your way into the Coppermines Valley. Do this by leaving the tourist information centre car park and turning left to follow the B5258 (Tilberthwaite Avenue) through the village to the junction with the A593. Turn left to cross the bridge over Church Beck before an immediate right at the Lakes Cottages (across the road).
2 – This narrow road leads to the grand Sun Hotel. Take the first right immediately after the hotel where you’ll see a sign on the building opposite pointing the direction to the Old Man and Levers Water. Follow this track through the buildings for around 700m until you reach the Miners Bridge over Church Beck (SD 29423 98022).
3 – Cross the Miners Bridge and follow the rough road to the left into the valley. After a short distance, the path forks at the hydropower scheme (SD 29346 98172). Bear right here to begin climbing the valley side. The path will fork again (SD 29279 98376), keep to the right once more to keep on the fringe of the spoil tip. You will reach a stream where the path turns back on itself (don’t cross the bridge) and you will now be above the spoil tip. Take the first left (SD 29341 98446), following the path past more spoil heaps and crossing a small bridge. This path now climbs to Hole Rake.
4 – At Hole Rake, the path continues in a northeasterly direction to make a long, wide circuit of the east side of Wetherlam, giving views of the best side of the fell. Pass around the eastern side of the marshy Crook Beck to the head of Tilberthwaite Gill. Cross Crook Beck at NY 29959 00645 before crossing Yewdale Beck via a footbridge at NY 29944 00815. Make your way southeast a short distance to find another path junction (NY 29999 00774). Here, take the stony path to the left.
5 – The path skirts Dry Cove Bottom, climbing as it does. Avoid any paths branching off to the right as the path steepens up to Birk Fell Man. A remarkable view of Little Langdale awaits as you finally reach the crest of Wetherlam’s northeast ridge.
6 – Wetherlam Edge forms the main part of the northeast ridge. It’s a steep 200m pull directly to the summit. The path can be loose and eroded and there is some minor scrambling along the way but nothing that should present any problems to experienced walkers. You will emerge close to the cairns that mark the summit of Wetherlam.
7 – From the summit, head west along the path which clings to the edge of Keld Gill Head, giving a fine view of Greenburn and Wet Side Edge. There should be no problems following the path as it descends to Swirl Hause, other than it being a bit loose in places.
8 – Prison Band looms ahead, another fine ridge in the guise of Wetherlam Edge. Again, it’s another steep 200m climb, this time to Swirl How. Thankfully, this is the last truly big climb of the walk. Be prepared for some very minor scrambling as you make your way up the ridge. Once again, it leads directly to the summit – topped by a fat cairn.
9 – From Swirl How, follow the path along the rim of Broad Slack, a large grassy rake at the head of Greenburn, to Great Carrs. You may notice some odd looking objects among the rocks below. These are the remains of a WW2 bomber which crashed in 1944. A memorial which incorporates parts of the plane can be found just off the ridge, near the summit of Great Carrs.
10 – The fell of Grey Friar is an optional extra though missing it would mean missing one of the main Coniston fells. To reach it requires heading WSW from Great Carrs down the grass slopes to the col of Fairfield. There is a marshy path to follow. Maintain a WSW heading as a short climb leads to Grey Friar’s flat summit. A cairn near the far end marks the top which has an under-rated view of the Scafell range.
11 – Retrace your route to the Fairfield col, but, now take a right at the first cairn at NY 26594 00688 to follow a small path which traverses below the summit of Swirl How to meet the main track at Swirl Band (SD 27117 99563). This traverse path saves you the effort of having to re-climb Swirl How from the col. Along the traverse, you will see Brim Fell rising ahead of you.
12 – From the junction, a wide, well-worn path heads almost directly south along the main spine of the Coniston Fells. This is one of the great ridge routes in the Lake District with superb all-round views and easy walking. Numerous cairns mark the route as the path crosses the indeterminate summit of Brim Fell before reaching the OId Man of Coniston.
13 – If time is against you, you can begin your descent to Coniston by following the main tourist path through the quarries to the east. Otherwise, the final peak of Dow Crag awaits.
14 – Backtrack towards Brim Fell but take a left at a junction marked by a cairn at SD 27124 97973. This path descends to Goat’s Hawse which provides a narrow link between Dow Crag and the main Coniston group. Cross the hause and, following the path, make one final 100m climb to Dow Crag’s summit. The effort will be worth it.
15 – Views down the precipitous crags and gullies of the eastern face, across Goat’s Water, are superb as you make your way along the crest of the fell. The summit is the obvious high point of rocks.
16 – You’re on the home stretch now and it’s almost all downhill. As you begin your descent you will pass two large gullies; Great Gully and Easy Gully. Beyond these is the South Rake. The path continues across the two minor tops of Buck Pike and Brown Pike before a swift descent to the summit of the Walna Scar Road – an important pass between Dunnerdale and Coniston.
17 – At the crossroads, take a left and follow the track as it switchbacks down the slopes of Brown Pike. Cross the bridge and continue descending until you reach the car park at the top of the motor road at SD 28914 97051. It’s around 2km from the bridge.
18 – From the Walna Scar car park its 1.5km back to Coniston. Head through the gate onto the road and follow it back to the village. Be aware of cars driving up and down as it is narrow in places.