This is a terrific high level traverse of The Old Man of Coniston along the ridge to Brim Fell and Swirl How, then down Prison Band and a good climb back up to Wetherlam. The return via Swirl Hawse, Levers Water and the path above the Coppermines Valley provides a great end to the day.
The starting point is the rough car park at the end of the Walna Scar public road.
Much of the area of the walk has seen a great deal of mining and quarrying back through the ages to as long ago as the late 1500's. The hillsides around bear the scars and abandoned equipment of somewhat later workings. As well as malachite (for copper) the mines also produced chalcopyrite (an iron/copper sulphide), iron pyrites, and arsenopyrite (an iron arsenic sulphide). The mines and quarries are a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Wetherlam, The Old Man of Coniston, Swirl How, Great How (Swirl Band), and Brim Fell; and includes 4 Wainwrights, 5 Birketts, 3 Hewitts, 4 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, 3 HuMPs, and 1 County Top - Historic.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the parking area bear left on to the track beside the fell gate, heading roughly north. Climb gently to the junction of paths at Crowberry Haws. Turn left rounding the knoll of Stubthwaite Crag, keep left to remain on the major track which very quickly starts to climb quite steeply and is very rough. It then sweeps right and zigzags.
Pass the mine buildings where the track gradient gives you a slight bit of respite, before climbing steeply again. Bear left up the slate ramp under the aerial tramway cables and again some more zigzags to Low Water.
As Low Water comes into view turn left along the path taking a traversing climb high above. The path enters a series of sharp and steep zigzags. Bear right along the ridge to the trig point and summit cairn with its plinth.
Continue over the summit area and bear right on the obvious path around the head of the crags. Keep right, the path here heads on to the crest of the ridge to the cairn at Brim Fell.
Keep going, the path drops down to Levers Hawse and then climbs to the knolls above Little and Great How Crags, before the pull up Swirl Band to the summit. The cairn is perched above precipitous crags.
Turn right and drop down Prison Band. It gets quite steep here and the surface can be loose and slippery. You can choose to do a little scrambling over a rocky outcrop or two, or take the bypasses on the right hand side. Continue down to the col at Swirl Hawse.
At the large cairn go straight ahead and then bear left climbing steeply. This path traverses below Black Sails, along Keld Gill Head, and heads straight for Wetherlam. The last part to the summit area is a delightful little clamber over large boulders.
Once you've had a chance to pause at the summit of Wetherlam turn around and return to Swirl Hawse via the traverse path along Kell Gill Head.
Turn left at the cairn. This path drops gently keeping high above Levers Water Bottom. Avoid taking the lower grass path, keep to the main gravel and stone path. As you get nearer Levers Water the path gets more boggy until it becomes a veritable feast of soft squidgy peat bog. Some of the bog holes are quite deep. To avoid the worst of the morass keep to the edge of the steep boulder scree on the left. Keep left, but do not climb the slopes. The path is indistinct in places.
Reaching the corner of Levers Water will probably be a relief! Bear left and follow around the shore line to the dam. Some of the large boulders along the edge hide good drops into the water. Continue past the dam, and bear left onto the rough track rounding Kennel Crag. Take the first turning on the right, a small shortcut can be made by dropping down a grass path.
Continue round above the quarrying operations. The track passes some open tunnel entrances, not all are necessarily gated. Cross the wooden footbridge below the waterfalls, and turn left to continue the high level traverse.
Remain on the path as it rounds Grey Crag, and then climb up alongside Low Water Beck to another wooden footbridge. Cross it, then bear left below the massive boulder. The path heads for the end of the track at the remains of aerial tramway tower bases on a slate heap.
Join the track and continue round to Crowberry Haws. Along the way look out for the juniper bushes along each side of the track.
At the junction turn left and then bear right rounding Stubthwaite Crag. Then it's straight back along the track to the parking area.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Walna Scar, White Maiden, White Pike, with a visit to Blind Tarn||same start point|
|Dow Crag and Goats Water||same start point|
|The Old Man of Coniston||100m (110 yards) away|
|Coppermines Valley above Coniston||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Coniston to Dungeon Ghyll||1.4km (0.9 miles) away|
|The Old Man of Coniston, from Coniston village||1.5km (0.9 miles) away|
|Wetherlam, via Lad Stones ridge and Black Sails||1.6km (1.0 miles) away|
|Tarn Hows from Coniston||1.6km (1.0 miles) away|
|A visit to Cathedral Cavern from Tilberthwaite||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Steel Edge and Wetherlam Edge, from Tilberthwaite||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Tarn Hows, Black Fell, Holme Fell||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|A stroll around Tarn Hows||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011