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The Old Man of Coniston Circular walk via Brown Pike, Buck Pike and Dow Crag

Videowalk available!

This walk, or a similar walk, is available to download from our Videowalks web site for just £1.49. The video walks take the form of detailed slideshows (typically around 20 minutes each) taking you all around the route, along with photographs and video clips of what you can see along the way. The walks also come with printable directions in pdf format, including a 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map excerpt showing the route and photographs showing key directions.

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The walk follows a circular route from a parking area on Walna Scar road, near Coniston in the Lake District. It sets off in a westerly direction along Walna Scar road itself, which is now a track, before turning northwards to start the real climbing over Brown Pike, Buck Pike and Dow Crag. The walk drops down to Goat's Hawse before heading to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston, known by many as Coniston Old Man. From the summit there are excellent panoramic views of all surrounding hills and fells, from Black Combe around to the Pennines taking in the Scafell group to the North and as far as the Isle of Man to the West, along with Blind Tarn and Goat's Water below. From the summit, the walk zig-zags down to Low Water before returning to the parking area through the remains of a bygone era in this part of the Lakes - copper mining.



What to wear and take on your walk:

If you are new to walking and want to know what to wear and take on your walk, or just want to know what to consider when buying your walking clothes and equipment then these articles are for you. We'll also take you through our favourite walking boots, walking jackets, walking trousers, rucksacks, backpacks, water bottles, mapping and safety equipment etc. of 2022. Read our articles:

What to wear on a walk and What to take on a walk


Parking: Pay-and-Display parking area approx 1km out of Coniston at the end of the tarmac section of the Walna Scar Road (grid reference SD 288 970). If full, there is plenty of parking back down the road 1km away Coniston. Parking in Coniston will add a further 150m climb to the walk and no real further enjoyment or views!
Directions: Google Maps: get directions here / What3words: reserving.twists.brief
Walk distance: 6.2 miles (9.9 Km)
Estimated walk time: 3 hours 25 minutes
Height climbed: 780 metres
Grade: 2-C: A medium length walk that has rugged terrain and some steep climbs
Peaks / summits: Brown Pike, Buck Pike, Dow Crag and The Old Man of Coniston
Wainwrights: 2 - The Old Man of Coniston 803m (30th highest) and Dow Crag 778m (47th highest)
Map: Ordnance Survey - Explorer OL6 (The English Lakes - South-western Area)
Buy this map from Ordnance Survey
Walk features: Geographic feature, Hills or fells, Lake or tarn, Man-made feature, Views, Wildlife
Facilities / refreshments: None on the route or at the start. Cafes, pubs and shops in Coniston village (approx 1km from the car park)
Nearest town: Coniston
Local accommodation: View accommodation close to the start of this walk from Sykes Holiday Cottages
Walk Tags: Coniston, Coniston Old Man, The Old Man of Coniston, Walna Scar Road, Brown Pike, Buck Pike, Dow Crag, Copper Mining, Blind Tarn, Goat's Water, Goat's Hawse, Low Water, Stubthwaite Crag, Coniston Fells, Coniston Water, Lake district, Lake district national park


Leaving the parking area on Walna Scar Road

Leaving the parking area on Walna Scar Road

Drive out of Coniston up the steep Walna Scar road. As the road ends, pass though a gate and park in the large unmetalled parking area - the walk starts from here. From the parking area, head away from the gate in a Westerly direction and through the wooden waymarkers, to continue along the now unsurfaced Walna Scar Road.

Brown Pike and Buck Pike

Brown Pike and Buck Pike

Keep on the track as it gently rises through the bracken and ignore a track that shortly heads off to the right. The track then rises more steeply before levelling out again. Over to the left Coniston Water comes in to view and the further you walk first Brown Pike and then Buck Pike come in to view ahead. The track then reaches some steps, which lead up to Goat's water. Ignore these and continue along the track. Cross over the bridge and keep on the track as it starts to climb around Brown Pike. The track starts to climb more steeply and become rougher underfoot, before passing a small shelter. Shortly after this, the crest of the hill is reached and ahead can be seen Harter Fell and Ulpha Fell.

On the brow of the hill, by a small cairn and a wooden sign, turn right off Walna Scar road (track) and follow the well defined gravel footpath as it starts to 'zig-zag' its way up towards the summit of Brown Pike. Upon reaching the summit of Brown Pike, pass the cairn and keep on in the same direction along the ridge towards Buck Pike. Down below to the right is Blind tarn and up on the hillside opposite the summit of the Old Man of Coniston can now be seen.

Upon reaching Buck Pike, pass the summit cairn and continue on in the same direction towards Dow Crag. As Dow Crag is reached, there are some photogenic views down the steep gulleys to the right looking down on to Goat's Water. Head on up the final rocky section to Dow Crag summit. From the summit continue on in the same direction to start the short descent towards Goat's Hawse. Across to the right, the path to be followed from Goat's Hawse to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston can clearly be seen. Keep on the path past a cairn and head steadily down towards Goat's Hawse.

Once at Goat's Hawse, start the climb up the hill ahead. There are two paths, but take the more distinct left hand one. Keep ascending along the wide stony path, passing many small and larger cairns along the way. About 700m on from Goat's Hawse, the summit cairn comes in to view ahead. Down to the left now the path home can be seen 'zig-zagging' down towards Low Water. Continue on the final few metres to the summit cairn.

Summit of Coniston Old Man

Summit of Coniston Old Man

There are wide ranging views all around from the summit - to the west is Dow Crag, then moving around to the north amongst others are: Harter Fell, Scafell, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Bowfell, with Skiddaw Little Man almost due North. Then moving around to the East are: Blencathra, Helvellyn, Loadpot and most of the western arm of the Kentmere horseshoe. On a clear day out to sea the Isle of Man can be seen, along with a little further south Blackpool tower.

Low Water

Low Water

Pass the summit cairn and continue on in the same direction. The path initially starts to gently descend with views of Coniston and Coniston Water straight ahead. The path then swings around to the left to start its steeper 'zig-zag' descent towards Low Water below. Keep on the path down to the side of Low Water.

As the far end of Low Water is reached, the path splits with the left hand fork heading to the water's edge. Ignore this and follow the path around to the right, away from the water. The stony path heads between rocky outcrops in the direction of Coniston Water. Shortly afterwards the first signs of disused quarries can be seen. The path passes by small heaps of slate / rocks and the remains of old quarry buildings. Keep to the main path as you descend by the buildings. Once through the mining area keep descending on the path in the general direction of Coniston Water. As the path swings around to the left, ahead now can be seen a path junction. Over to the right the car parking area can be seen.

At the path junction, keep on the main path following it around to the right. The path, now on a much more gentle descent, winds its way through a few small rocky outcrops and then heads again in the general direction of Coniston Water. The car parking area soon comes back in to view ahead. Continue back along the path the final few metres to the car parking area.


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