Fellwalking: Coniston Old Man

View from summit of Coniston Old Man

“I once wrote, in a spasm of exuberance, that the Old Man is to Coniston as the Matterhorn is to Zermatt, a gross exaggeration of course. Yet there is the same affinity between mountain and village: one without the other is unthinkable, and both are integral to the public’s image.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Haven’t been able to get out recently, so yet another walk from the archives – this one I did several years ago. It’s an enjoyable day walk that takes in the summit of Coniston Old Man and finishes with a pleasant stroll on the western shores of Coniston Water.

For this walk I used the Pathfinder “Lake District Walks” guidebook. Commencing in the village of Coniston, the path soon starts climbing the eastern flank of The Old Man getting steadily steeper as it approaches the summit and passing considerable evidence of the mountain’s industrial history – particularly slate mining. While somewhat aesthetically unappealing, the old quarries are to me an important part of the history of the area and do add some interest to the walk.

After the summit, the path drops down and passes Goat’s Water before descending steadily towards Torver.  From here the way proceeds through some woods to Coniston Water, and thence back to Consiton.

My rating: A
Map: OL6 – The English Lakes: South Western Area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: The Wainwright Anniversary: The Southern Fells (50th Anniversary Edition): BOOK FOUR (A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells)

Fellwalking: High Stile

Red Pike from High Stile

“High Stile is the pivot, the central point and the loftiest of a closely knit trinity of peaks on an elevated ridge between Buttermere and Ennerdale … The rewards of a visit to High Stile more than compensate for the effort in getting there.”

Wainwright’s Favourite Lakeland Mountains

Another walk from the archives … and a magnificent walk it is – a highly recommended Lake District ridge walk centred on the lovely village and lake of Buttermere.

Parking near the church just above Buttermere village we took the bridleway that proceeds south towards Burtness Wood, continuing uphill as we entered the woods on the path that soon starts to climb steeply westwards by the south side of Sourmilk Gill toward Red Pike. After passing Bleaberry Tarn, the path gets steeper and the final pull up to the summit of Red Pike is quite an effort, but worth it for the magnificent views from the ridge, which may extend out to the coast if the weather is kind.

From Red Pike we followed the path south-east to High Stile and then on to High Crag, this section is not particularly difficult and in fine weather it is worth taking your time and savouring the views. North of the ridge are excellent views of Crummock Water, Buttermere and the north-western fells including Grasmoor and Eel Crag. To the east, Fleetwith Pike and the old slate mine tramway. South-eastwards you’ll see Haystacks and beyond Great Gable, and to the south, Pillar.

After High Crag, the path descends rather steeply to meet Scarth Gap Pass. At this path, you can turn north and follow the bridleway downhill to the shore of Buttermere, finishing with a pleasant stroll along a permissive path back through Burtness Wood. Alternatively, if you are feeling energetic, you can continue east up towards Haystacks and then keep following the path as it curls around past Innominate Tarn and Bleaberry Tarn to eventually pick up the path that descends by Warnscale back down towards Buttermere. This way requires a short road bash along the B5289, picking up another bridleway at Gatesgarth Farm that proceeds south-west to join the aforementioned bridleway and then permissive path back to the village of Buttermere.

All-in-all a great walk and one of my personal Lake District top 5 day walks.

My rating: A+
Map: OL4 – The English Lakes: North Western area (1:25,000)
Wainwright’s guides: Book 7: The Western Fells – Second Edition (Pictorial Guides)

A cold day in Mt Field National Park…

Path by Lake Dobson

Yesterday was another lesson in how fast the weather can change in alpine areas. I headed to Mt Field National Park in Tasmania – on the drive from Hobart the weather looked like it was going to be nice, but it closed in as I approached the park and got steadily worse as the morning progressed. The weather bureau forecast ‘isolated’ showers – I think they were all isolated in exactly the same place, which was where I planned to walk! Originally intending to take the Tarn Shelf circuit of the lakes, I ended up cutting the walk short at Lake Seal when the showers turned to rain which then turned to snow. While well equipped with full waterproof clothing, it proved impossible to keep my feet dry due to the amount of rain and water on the path.

Nonetheless, it was still an ‘invigorating’ walk, and the alpine landscape and the lakes and tarns have their own kind of appeal in this type of weather. Very few photos though, too wet and windy and the cold temperatures affected the battery in my digital camera. Conditions were also a reminder to ensure you are appropriately equipped when entering this type of terrain, and that sometimes it makes sense to turn back rather than push on.

Previous walks in Mt Field National Park: Mt Field East Circuit and Waterfalls and Tall Trees