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Walks Around You

Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag Walk

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The ascent of the Old Man of Coniston is one of the most popular mountain walks in the Lake District. Ease of access is one reason, which probably accounts for the large number of people to be found on the mountain on a summer day. People who would never dream of walking up a hill set off into the unknown and many of them actually make it to the top. Some of them will be ill-equipped, wearing the clothing you are more likely to see in a city, but the lure of the summit drags them on. Most take the popular way, following the good track winding its way up by the old mines and quarries, passing Low Water on the way to the summit (see Walkingworld Route 4411, The Coniston Heights) and that is the route where you will see the largest percentage of sandals and carrier bags. There are other ways however and this route takes a quieter path, avoiding the crowds.

The walk starts from the car park on the Walna Scar Road and follows this road for a short distance before turning off at a track leading to a disused quarry. From there the route follows a path crossing the southern slopes of the Old Man. This path takes the easiest line and is straightforward to follow. What's more, you will not see many other walkers. This changes suddenly when you reach the summit, to meet those who came up the popular route.

Most of them will go down the same way they came up, so within a couple of hundred metres you will leave the crowds behind as you descend to Goat's Hawse. There is an easy escape route here if you need it, taking you down a shorter way by Goat's Water, but this route continues over Dow Crag before carrying on along Buck Pike and Brown Pike to the highest point on the Walna Scar Road.  From there it's a steady descent back to the start point.

This walk is fairly short by some standards. A longer variation would be to start this route in reverse, following the Walna Scar Road west to its highest point, then turning right to follow the well-defined, stony track to Brown Pike and then the summit of Dow Crag, continuing round to the col at Goat's Hawse before taking the rising path to the right to the summit of Coniston Old Man. From there join Route 4411 at Waymark 4 and follow the ridge to Swirl How and beyond. This would give a walk of 15.5km with a 1,022-metre height gain, taking around six hours or more.

Take the short walk or the long variation. Both are a great day out.

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Burton-in-Kendal, the Lancaster Canal and Holme
Arnside to Kirkby Lonsdale - the Limestone Link
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Winster Circular
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Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag
Troutbeck Church - Orrest Head Circular
Troutbeck Church - Dubbs Reservoir Circular
Tilberthwaite - Little Langdale - Tilberthwaite
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