Brim full of Coniston Fells

Coppermines Valley, it takes a lot of effort to make that much of a mess by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerI arrived at the National Park owned car park happy to pay £2.60 to leave the car whilst I had a full day walking only to find that it is now costs £6.00 for more than 4 hours. Having driven through rain for most of the way I was surprised to find Coniston dry and warm enough to walk in tee shirt and shorts.

I found somewhere else to leave the car and set off alongside Church Beck towards Coppermines Valley. I ignored the path on the right hand side that seems to double back on you before slanting up the fell side towards Wetherlam via the Furness Fells. I was trying to get to Red Dell but soon realised that I had ignored the wrong right turn! Whatever you think of the scars of the abandoned quarry and mine workings the walk up the valley is fascinating, a lot of effort went into making as big a mess as that.

View of the dam on Levers Water from Black Sails by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerI decided to carry on anyway and climb up on to the Black Sails ridge at a convenient point. I walked past the Youth Hostel and carried on towards Black Sails past the holiday cottages at the end of the valley and on to a path going up the fell in what seemed to be the right direction. There was only the small matter of Kennel Crag that prevented me from taking the direct route so I followed the path to Levers Water. The level of water was very low, I could have crossed to the other side of the weir and kept my feet dry today.

View from Wetherlam summit by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerAt least from here there is a faint path going in the right direction, up on to the ridge of Black Sails. This is a delightful airy ridge where you are unlikely to meet anybody else, you can see the mine and quarry workings without having to walk through them. It is also dry which makes it by far the best way of getting to Wetherlam, apart from the marshes at Red Dell Head Moss of course. This is where you meet the popular path between Wetherlam and Swirl How and it is a ten minute walk from here to the summit of Wetherlam.

The summit is broad and flat with good views down to Little Langdale and across to Swirl How, Pike o' Stickle is easily recognisable in the distance. Retraced my steps for a short while back to to the moss and then followed the obvious path in the direction of Swirl How until dropping down to Swirl Hause before the climb up Prison Band. Prison Band is a steep eroded path but somehow it doesn't feel half as difficult as I remember it but I can't remember being here before when it wasn't raining or misty.

View of Levers Water and Conoston Water from Swirl How by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerSwirl How is a real mountain top, rocky and broad with views of lots of other hills and occupied by lots of people. The plan was to walk over to Grey Friar but Great Carrs was too much of a temptation to ignore and it is a fairly easy walk to its summit. At this stage the Scafell group came into view, capped with mist at first but soon Mickledore was bathed in sunshine.

The walk down to the col called Fairfield is easy over grass and the obvious path up towards Grey Friar is also reasonably easy in the bright and sunny conditions. The top of Grey Friar is broad and flat, the summit cairn is towards the centre of the plateau but a cairn on the edge of it gives probably the best view of the Scafell group and Harter Fell in the the Lake District.

Grey Friar summit view of Old Man and Dow Crag by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerWalk back down towards Fairfield but there is no need to climb back up to the ridge. A friendly path contours around the head of Tarn Head Beck to Levers Hause, the view Seathwaite Tarn keeps you company until you get to the Hause and Levers Water takes over from there.

The walk over Brim Fell makes it one of the easiest summits to visit, but I have never seen it like this before, calm and with views all around. The usual walk along this ridge involves being battered by a gale and being stung by horizontal hail. It has to be said that that there looks to be a very heavy shower over Ambleside, all of those poor shoppers will be getting wet.

Brim Fell summit by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerAs much as I would have liked to have visited Dow Crag it would have been just a bit too much today so I'll save it for another day and make my way over to the Old Man of Coniston. As I approach the huge cairn on top of a man made platform the summit looks deserted but as usual the leeward side if the shelter is packed with walkers keeping out of the wind.

There are fine views over Low Water and Levers Water, never seen them both at the same time before, I was so stunned that I forgot to look for Blackpool Tower.

View of Low Water and Levers Water from the Old Man of Coniston by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerThe walk down from the summit is steep and eroded at first, becoming easier as you get towards Low Water. The tarn is disappointingly colourless today, Low Water is sometimes a brilliant turquoise colour as a result of the presence of copper but not today when I have a camera.

The path goes downwards through abandoned quarries and a few times you have to step over the two inch diameter cables that use to carry an arial transporter. It is all I can do to stop myself investigating the intriguing looking entrances to the old mine shafts and levels, you would have to be mad to enter those places wouldn't you?

Finally back to the village of Coniston and it has become very warm but it starts to rain just as I set off.

Andy Wallace 6th September 2003

© 2003 - 2018 By Andy Wallace. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part, including images, and reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.

Back to Walking in Cumbria