Coniston Old Man and Swirl How

Tuesday 4 November 2014. It took my 5½ hours yesterday to drive the 220 miles from home to Ambleside. I’d arranged to meet Jacqui for lunch and it was a good job that I set off at 7am as I only had 30 minutes to spare; just long enough to buy a new pair of walking trousers.

It was a bright clear sunny morning so we set off to climb Coniston Old Man and then to walk the ridge to Swirl How with the option of taking in Wetherlam, if time allowed. We drove up the very narrow and steep road leading from Coniston village to the end of Walna Scar road where we parked the car. This gained us over 500ft but we still had another 2000ft to climb to the top of the Old Man. We stopped for coffee at Low Water before pushing up the last 700ft to the cairn and trig point at the top (2,540ft). Cresting the summit was something of a surprise as the views were astounding. To the south west we could see over Dow Crags to the coast at the mouth of the River Duddon. To the north we could see to the Scafells with the first covering of snow of the winter and far away to the east we could see the sun shining on the Howgills.

After the obligatory summit photos, we made our way along the ridge to Swirl How. The descent from here was very steep and rocky and couldn’t be rushed. A walker had broken her ankle coming down the Prison Band just a couple of weeks ago. At the hause between Swirl How and Wetherlam we had to decide which route to take back to the car. The Wetherlam route would involve a climb of 500ft or so and as time was pressing on we decided to descend down to the side of Levers Water and then into the CopperminesValley. It was here that we saw a pack of foxhounds and their master who was on foot. 3 of the hounds appeared to be stuck on the crags and couldn’t find their way down. The pack master didn’t seem to care too much and made his way off into the distance leaving the 3 missing hounds behind. I assume he thought that they could find their way home on their own.

We got back to the car after 6 hours of walking and covering 8.4 miles. It was a well timed finish as it started to rain right at the end of the walk.


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