The Old Man of Coniston: Your dog can swim right?

The Old Man of Coniston: Your dog can swim right?


3 hours


Where is the Old Man of Coniston?

The Old Man of Coniston is a fell located in The Lake District. This is a hugely popular route and is one of the largest fells in the Lake District (803m). Like with most walks there are several routes to the top which differ in difficulty. We chose a direct route starting off at Walna Scar car park.

As usual with these trips we had a little difficulty even finding the car park to start the walk. It was at this point we pulled up at a petrol station and sent Tom in for directions. Knowing Tom as we did we had a few reservations that he would come back out with directions to a local old man’s house down the road. We needn’t have worried though a few minutes later we were parked up and getting our walking gear on.

No gentlemen here

I’d decided I would bring a bottle of Gentleman Jack along to enjoy at the top whilst enjoying the stunning views. How wrong I was. A couple of the lads were a little worse for wear and the majority of the bottle had gone a few minutes into the walk. Nevermind the views were sure to make up for it.

Stu had picked Wez up from his parents near Cleveley’s and he had decided to bring the family dog Chester along for the walk too. Chester by the way has the most human looking face that i’ve ever seen a dog have.

Mining history of Coniston

Along the route you pass several derelict building foundations from the mining days. Alfred Wainwright described The Old Man of Coniston in great detail in his book ‘A pictorial guide to the Lakeland fells: The southern fells.

‘The Old Man’ being abused, “cruelly scarred and mutilated by quarries”. Furthermore, the adventurist celebrated the fell retaining its dignity as ‘he’, “raises his proud and venerable head to the sky. His tears are shed quietly into Low Water and Goats Water, two splendid tarns, whence, in due course… find their way into Coniston’s lake, and there bathe his ancient feet.”

Alfred Wainwright
Mining history of Coniston

There are several tunnels as well as some huge cables that lie across the track in front of you. Spending ten or fifteen minutes looking around you can imagine the horrendous conditions that the miners must have worked in.

Your dog can swim right?

Remember when I mentioned about Wez’s dog having a ridiculously human looking face? Well as we approached Low Water tarn Stu was in front with Chester. As we came around the corner we were greeted with Stu asking Wez if his dog could swim. The answer apparently was no he can’t. As we looked out into the tarn there was Chester struggling to stay afloat after chasing a stone that Stu had thrown into the tarn for him.

Chester and his human dog eyes

Wez began stripping off to go in after him, at which point Pete said “give him a minute”. It goes without saying Wez did not give him another minute and dove straight in and pulled Chester to safety.

Pushing onto the summit of the Old Man of Coniston

Following Wez’s heroics he was left changing into a pair of bright pink swim shorts for the remainder of the walk. As we pushed on towards the top the weather really began to change. As we followed the zig zag path we were greeted with horrendous wind speeds and pelted by hail stone.

At the top we took shelter at the trig point as much as we could – and finished the remainder of the whiskey. Safe to say we couldn’t see anything and after giving the weather half an hour to change it showed no signs of doing so and we decided to head back down.

Wez and his £70 round

Back at the cars we set off for a well deserved pint. We stopped off at The Black Bull in Coniston town centre. This is quite rightly a popular pub and we soon all had a nice pint sat in front of us as we sat outside. Yep you guessed it the weather had perked right up as we approached the bottom.

Wez went to get the second round in – having taken about ten minutes he returned with our drinks and then went back inside and came back with a cap for all of us. None of us really wanted a cap but upon hearing he had spent £10 each on them we felt obliged to wear them. Although it was mentioned several times that if he wanted to do something nice he should have just bought an additional round of drinks.


  • Mike Richardson

    Mike is a Mancunian who is usually found hiking the Mountains in the Lake District. He has a passion for the outdoors and loves a pint after a day in the Mountains.

Mike Richardson

Mike is a Mancunian who is usually found hiking the Mountains in the Lake District. He has a passion for the outdoors and loves a pint after a day in the Mountains.

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