We set-off from Coniston on an overcast morning that threatened rain. Out of Coniston we followed the valley up towards the copper mines. The path follows a lovely beck which tumbles down a series of small water falls which makes for a very pleasant start to the walk.
As we started to ascend towards the summit of Old Man Coniston we passed the mines currently in use and as we climbed higher reached the disused mining infrastructure at Colt Crag. These are a great reminder of the Lake Districts older industries and also pays homage to the fact there is more to the Lakes than tourism and tea rooms.
We climbed through a couple of belts of slushy spring snow, it’s a well trodden route so there were plenty of footholds to keep us from worrying about slipping. The views back over Low Water definitely make the climb worth it. Before we knew it we were at the summit which was pretty clagged in, severely limiting any views. From the summit we followed the ridge line along to Swirl How with occasional breaks in the cloud affording wonderful views back towards Coniston Water.
At Swirl How we met a couple of other walkers and after a quick ‘hello’ Harriet stopped me wandering off in completely the wrong direction! We descended the Prison Band, which is relatively steep with lots of hopping through rocky sections. A definite highlight of the walk. Upon reaching Swirl Hause we stopped for a quick snack and observed some more substantial cloud approaching. As we set-off again a light rain started. We headed in the direction of Wetherlam and as we contoured round Black Sails the light rain developed nicely into the type of rain that really soaks you through (not heavy but definitely very wet!). We reached Wetherlam summit in low cloud and decided to head straight down the ridge from the summit rather than extend the walk.
On the descent we passed a couple of what looked like school groups. One seemingly doing much better than the other, but credit to them for sticking it out in pretty crap conditions to be out in the fells. The path down was pretty indistinct in the foul weather so we ended up following a sheep trod down which was a bit of a short cut and dropped us out just above the row of miners cottages.
From there it was just re-tracing our steps back into Coniston for tea and cake!
It was so good to be back in the Lakes again after such an extended period away. I knew that I missed the place, but I hadn’t realised the emotional pull it has on me. There is nothing quite like it. Its certainly hard to explain as the mountains aren’t particularly high or remote but there is something about having become familiar with its wild places and history that makes it so special. We’re definitely looking forward to spending our Honeymoon in Windermere and exploring some new areas.