Coniston Old Man and your need to know guide to the Wainwright


Wainwright Number:

Southern Lakes

OS Map:
Explorer map OL6

Coniston Old Man is 803m high or 2633ft tall. 

This Wainwright is located in the southern Fells of the Lake District.

You can head up to Coniston Old Man by following the Walna Scar path. From this to take a turning off which has clear paths the whole way to the top of The Old Man Of Coniston itself. 

You will need Explorer map OL6.

Coniston Old Man has many surrounding Fells as part of the Coniston Range. These include Dow Crag and Brim Fell.

At the top of Coniston Old Man is a large Cairn and lovely views across the southern Fells of the Lake District, along with views showing much of the north too. 

Facts about Coniston Old Man

There is plenty of confusion as to what the fell is really known as. Many people call this Wainwright Coniston Old Man. Whereas others call it Old Man of Coniston. And then you get the few others that will simply call this mountain the Old Man. There is plenty of debate as to what the real title is. But we feel that whichever way you lean towards, everyone else will know which fell you’re talking about.

How high is Coniston Old Man? (m/ft)

Coniston Old Man is number 32 in the list of Wainwrights in height order. It stands at 803m high which is 2633ft and is certainly one to tick off the Wainwright list of being conquered. The Old Man lies in a beautiful part of the Lake District and there is plenty of chance to hike more Wainwrights alongside Coniston Old Man on your walk here.

It is the tallest of all the Wainwrights in the area which it lies, but only just. Swirl How is 802m and there has been much debate on this fact too. It was recorded that both of these fells sat at 802.42m tall, but that Coniston Old Man had a slightly higher mound on the summit plinth.  But that this was in fact man-made. However, records and the OS maps record Coniston Old Man as 803m and Swirl How at 802m. So from this, it is decided that Coniston Old Man just tips the post of the height.

Where is this Wainwright located?

Coniston Old Man is located in the southern fells of the Lake District. It is the tallest of the fells in its location of surrounding mountains, known as the Coniston Fells. It lies just west of Coniston Water and also the village of Coniston too. That's a lot of Coniston, isn't it? This Wainwright is one of the furthest lying mountains in the Lake District of which there are 214 Wainwrights in total.

So how hard is Coniston Old Man to climb and which routes can you take?

Coniston Old Man is a tall fell and so it isn’t the easiest of mountains to climb in the Lake District. However, with all the walks in the Lakes, if you take your time and set your pace then you shouldn’t face too many challenges.

There are several routes which you can take up to the top of Coniston Old Man in the Lake District. One of the most popular is to begin at the village of Coniston and then head up via Walna Scar which is a main walking path here in the Lakes.

The second route would be to park up at Seathwaithe and walk up from here. A quick note that Seathwaite very much consists of small back roads, and is quite isolated even in the Lake District terms. Many of the roads in the Lakes are small, windy and for larger vehicles can sometimes be quite frustrating to get along. But in Seathwaite you really do feel as though you are in the wilderness. There is little around and it’s quite a drive from almost anywhere to get into this part of Cumbria.

The path does also join Walna Scar and you can then turn off from this main path up to the top of Coniston Old Man.

How long does it take to climb?

From personal experience when we hiked this beauty, we did so with a few other Wainwrights too. It was a good six or seven hours hike for us and we were lucky with the weather on the day too. We had some great views across the Lakes from the top of all the fells in the area. But there is something really nice about getting to the top of Coniston Old Man.

It is such a talked about fell that it is lovely to see what all of the fuss is about. And the views from the top really are something else.

So if you’re wanting to hike up to the top of Old Man Of Coniston and then straight back down again. I’d say to give yourself a good few hours to make the round trip. However, if you want to be out hiking the Wainwrights alongside Coniston Old Man then leave a good day walking for this. You really can be out eight hours plus on the fells here.

Are the paths good climbing up Coniston Old Man?

The paths, in general, are really clear and easy to navigate around Old Man Of Coniston. That being said, if you were in low cloud or poor weather conditions then nothing is ever straight forward on the mountains. So make sure that you take a map and compass with you at all time. And make sure that you know how to use them as well.

Best parking for this Fell

As I mentioned before the best two places for parking up would be either the village of Coniston itself. This is to the east of Coniston Old Man. Or if you park to the west at Seathwaite, and then head up to the fell from this spot. There is free parking at Seathwaite itself as it is mostly parking on the side of the road as best you can.

And for parking in Coniston, there are a few car parks to take your fancy. Just make sure that you have some change on you when you’re driving around the Lakes, as most car parks are pay and display while you’re there.

Coniston Old Man in the Lake District

What is at the summit?

At the top of Old Man Of Coniston is a cairn that stands proud at the summit. From here you can see right across looking north in the Lake District. There is room for groups and plenty of people at the top.

What are the views from the top of Coniston Old Man?

The views from the top of Old Man of Coniston are stunning on a clear day. But then even with the cloud rolling in, you can still catch a glimpse of some of the wonders around the Lake District too. Firstly you get a clear view looking down to Coniston Water. On the water itself, you’ll more than likely see the jetties going along the lake as well as rowing boats near to the village of Coniston.

To the north-west is Scafell Pike alongside Scafell and surround Fells. This is always a nice angle to see these top two Wainwrights from. It’s not so often that you get a view of them from their southside because they sit so far south themselves. So this is a welcome sight to take in the views here.

To the north, you’ll see the Coniston Old Man group of Wainwrights laid out in front of you. All with the clear paths linking them together. As I mentioned on a good days hike, you can make your way along them all. Try it, for it's worth it for the varied views and terrain that you get here too.

Further northeast you should be able to see Helvellyn and the Helvellyn Fells on a clear day. Of course, with Fairfield just a little further south from this. The views are extensive looking north and should be taken with a smile on your face and memories being captured the whole time.

Which OS map do you need?

For the hike up to the Old Man of Coniston, you will need either the OL6 Explorer map for the Lake District. Or OS Landranger 90. Either will give you a clear indication of the paths and routes around the Wainwright. Additionally, you can also choose to read and take with you Alfred Wainwrights book number four of his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. Here you can follow in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright himself. And see the views which he describes through his guides with illustrations alongside.

Where to stay around Coniston Old Man Campsites, etc

When you’re planning your hike to the top of Coniston Old Man you can choose a few destinations and villages to stay in.

If you are hiking to Coniston Old Man from the east then you can stay in Coniston itself. This is a village in the Lake District but it does have some accommodation in the village too. And the bonus to this is that you have local amenities on your doorstep too.

From the west side up to the Old Man Of Coniston, there is a campsite near to Seathwaite. But besides that, you might have to travel a little further from the likes of Eskdale where there are more options on where to stay.

True Freedom Seekers
Thank you for taking the time to read our page. We hope you have enjoyed the information which we have for you. Please feel free to reach out to us about anything regarding the Lake District. Or leave a comment below. Happy Wainwright bagging.

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