The Coniston High Fells – 6km Walk & Wild Swim

This was a 6 hour walk, taking in wonderful high views and 2 places for decent wild swims. It would be a great walk for those with dogs, they’ll be off the lead almost all the way. I used the Ordnance Survey Map 0L6 (The English Lakes, South Western Area), and its best to take that map as the waymaking around this area is some of the worst I’ve seen, anywhere in the world, ever.

You start the walk at Coniston Hall Campsite itself. The view below is of The Old Man of Coniston, as seen from the campsite. You’ll be able to reach this summit, if you wish, halfway through this walk.

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From the campsite follow the footpath towards Coniston village, taking the left fork just after Haws Bank, up towards the main road. Over the other side is a pub, follow the footpath behind it, to its right, and carry on. The path will lead you upwards past houses at first, then through open fields. It’s not clear in places, this path, and it gets worse after you pass the style and move onto banishead moor. Here’s the view of the area, the path is somewhere there, the map says, good luck in finding it, I didn’t!

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It’s no big deal though, you just head across the moor towards the Old Man of Coniston and eventually you’ll reach the Walna Scar Road, an old miners route, and you follow this to the left, as in the first photo below. After 20 minutes you’ll bear right and there will be a footpath sign pointing off right, this is the track to Goat’s Water, your first wild swim destination. The scenery as you near the water is shown in the second photo.

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The water here is freezing! But, worth a swim, and the scenery surrounding the water is awesome. I swam for about 10 minutes here and stayed a further 20, and nobody passed me by, it’s a quiet spot. Afterwards, carrying on alongside the water, head for the saddle known as Goat’s Hawse. The views looking back over Goat’s Water as you climb to the Hause are shown below.

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From Goat’s Hause you can easily summit the Old Man of Consiton from it’s back side in about 15 minutes. The weather was seemingly closing in when I was there so I didn’t do this, instead I choose to take the path on the left, leading from Dow Pike to Buck Pike, then on to Brown Pike. The view from the ridge over to the Sca Fell range and Eskdale valley on your right is good, and shown below.

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Your next swimming point, that of Blind Tarn, reveals itself just after Buck Pike, you can see it in the first image below. To get to it you follow the ridge path, then veer right down the hill before joining the Walna Scar Road again, this time heading back on it towards Coniston. Just after you see a stone shelter on your left, you take a path on your left. It’s not signposted and not very easy to see, but it leads upwards through a little valley. This will lead you to the tarn.

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From the tarn you retrace your steps to Coniston, although, they probably won’t be the same steps as the route is very hard to make out, as I’ve said before! The views are good though, very enjoyable.

Back down at Coniston Hall there is another chance for a wild swim, in Coniston Water itself. The water is a 2 minute walk from the campsite, and it’s great swimming (easy access and it increases depth very slowly). What stunning scenery this area has! I used to take a swim after every walk instead of a shower, the water is so refreshing. It’s great therapy for weary muscles to soak them in cold water, after every dip I felt ready to go again the next day even after the toughest of walks.

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