“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”John Muir: Our National Parks
I’m pretty sore when I wake up as I ended up walking so far the other evening up Wansfell, Loughrigg Fell and eventually slogging my way on foot back here to Windermere. You can read about that HERE. I’m never one to waste a moment so me and Bracken are off with the intention to tackle the Old Man Of Coniston (that’s a mountain by the way we aren’t off to rugby tackle a granddad. Neither of us like werthers original that much)
At 803 meters the Old Man Of Coniston is definitely a bigger challenge than Loughrigg and Wansfell were even together, and of the Coniston fells it is the highest. After months of not being in the mountains both of us are looking forward to it even though we know it’s going to hurt a bit. For me especially after the previous day. It’s also meant to be a steep climb, through abandoned slate mine works that are about 800 years old. I’d love to explore these but I doubt if we have time, if they are accessible and I know there’s no way Bracken would follow me down there!
The mountainside on our route up is strewn with vast cables from the mine workings, broken slate huts and slate debris is strewn everywhere. It makes me stop and pause at one point looking at one of the broken and frayed vast cables protruding from the ground. It makes you wonder just what kind of force it took to snap a cable like that. I’m glad I’ll never find out.
At about half way up to the summit we approach Low Water Tarn which in the mist almost looks endless. Small gusts of wind blow ripples across the surface of the water and Bracken comments he could almost imagine a ghostly viking longboat emerging from the mist. It is a spooky but breathtaking scene. I’m just thinking about how awesome yet freezing it would be to take a swim in there during summer….When the mist clears it’s actually quite a small but photogenic tarn.
As we make our way to the summit cairn, as usual there’s quite a lot of early morning cloud cover but we manage to catch a few decent windows for some photographs. Just through the slowly clearing cloud is the water strip of Coniston far below us
By this stage me and Bracken have decided we have been so sick of being stuck inside and not being able to travel for the last few months that we are going to do a huge loop from the Old Man over to Brim Fell, Swirl How and finally Wetherlam.
Luckily for this part of the journey the weather clears nicely and we get great views finally we come to the summit of Weatherlam standing at 763m The scenery here’s pretty good and as usual it good to be just alive at this point and not stuck indoors. Seriously though at this point I’m really running out of things to watch on Netflix.
We end up coming down an easy scramble. Now I used to utterly wet myself at a bit of exposure but over the years I’ve clearly become de-sensitised or maybe just more confident with heights. Bracken is not so happy with the scramble down which is fine, it’s understandable as he hasn’t done that much of this stuff and I have. We make our way down slowly and I do offer to walk in front so I can catch him, though looking back at it maybe that was bit ambitious. But anyway, he’s not dead so I’ll take that as a win!
The return journey of the loop is a really nice walk despite being a bit of a slog back for two mountain walkers who have been out of the game for six months. It’s sunny, it’s blue sky and just the kind of weather you want but are lucky to get in the Lake District.
We pass some old flooded mine workings on the way back and as usual I’ve got to go explore. Unfortunately these are flooded but I imagine they probably go down quite deep.
By the end of the walk we are both pretty tired, especially being as our loop of the fells has ended up clocking 17.81 miles in a time of about 9 hours. Activity and route can be found here
It’s been a good trip, so Bracken’s back off into the fells to camp and I’m back off to drink wine while both my legs slowly seize up and I walk like someone who’s had an accident..
Have you hiked Wansfell and Loughrigg? Did you get better weather than us? Tell us about it below in the comments!