The Old Man of Coniston is a Lake District legend, even if the name is slightly curious. It turns out that “Old Man” is derived from “Alt Maen” meaning “High Stone” and the Coniston part comes from the Old Norse “Konigs Tun” or King’s Farm. This grand old fell is the highest peak in the Furness Fells and is also one of the most popular walks of the area. Read on for our guide on the easiest route to the top!
Please be aware, although we’re describing these routes as ‘easy’, you will still need to be properly prepared for the high fells – The Old Man of Coniston is 803m high and conditions at the top can be very different to those in the valley. Proper boots, warm & waterproof clothing, food, a torch (just in case) and a map and compass (or other properly reliable navigation aid) are a must. Please don’t head up there in a bikini and stilettos!
The car park for this isn’t marked on an OS Map, but I can promise you it’s there. Follow Station Road up out of Coniston village and keep going onwards and upwards as it turns (quite literally, on a sharp left hand bend) into Walna Scar Road. It’s a very narrow and winding road with a few passing places so remember to smile & wave if someone lets you through.
Up at the top is a very bumpy - but free - car park. It can get pretty busy during peak season, but there’s usually room for everyone.
From the car park, continue walking along Walna Scar Road all the way to Brown Pike (the route that cuts up past the shores of Goats Water is tempting, and fun, but that steep ‘up’ at the end is not to be sniffed at.) From there, it’s steady and undulating walking on a well trodden path around to Goat’s Hawse. From here you need to bear right to make your way up to the summit.
There’s a large Trig Point marking the summit and, although there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view while you munch your lunch, my advice is to save your sarnies until you reach the shores of Low Water where it’s much more sheltered and where there are plenty of places to sit.
I’m not going to lie to you, the route down is a little more tricky as it’s quite steep in places and, on the sections through the old mine workings, it can be a bit slippery but, on the bright side, it’s all downhill! Plus, it’s all really well trodden so you’ll have difficulty getting lost (though it's not possible, so you still need that important map and compass!).
While we’re on the subject, the mines here have been worked for hundreds of years for both copper and slate and are reputed to be amongst the largest in England. Many of the old buildings remain so, if you fancy yourself as the taker of dramatic photos, here’s your chance.
Once you’re done pretending to be Ansel Adams, keep heading down and at Crowberry Haws swing around to the right to follow the nice, broad, track all the way back to the car park where your chariot will be awaiting, ready to whisk you away to the nearest pub for a well earned pie and a pint! Hurrah!
For your extra comfort, make sure you take a look at our holiday cottages in Coniston, where you can put up your feet and relax after your walk! Or, for more Lake District walks, take a look through our walking guides.