Sunday, January 22, 2006

Up The Old Man

With a need to see the Pig (for his birthday) and to blow some cobwebs away, we ventured up The Old Man of Coniston with the dog yesterday. This being something of a tradition of 3 or 4 years standing, to go somewhere and walk something.

Coniston Old Man is in the south west of the Lake District and it's one of Lakeland's higher fells. It's a steep walk (with 3 peaks over 2500 feet) of around 5 miles or so (took about 5.5 hours, but we were dawdling) and we managed to get a bit of geocashing in while we were at it. I wouldn't call it arduous.

The weather was uncharacteristally clement for our regular 'Pigs Birthday Walk', even as we walked along the ridge line, and the mist blowing up from the vally looked suitably dramatic without freezing our nuts off.

Great views and plenty of tarns and world-weary sheep. Holly (the dog) loved it, and was well up for even the wettest and least pooch friendly of gill scrambling.
At 803 metres (2276 feet) the Old Man of Coniston is (I suppose) a small mountain, which should have been a challenging enough climb for Winter weight Spaniel. Not so the Holly dog.

What the Old Man has is views. Two stunning lakes and the dramatic sight of Goats Water (tarn) cowering under the dark cliffs of Dow Crag. The return path passes another tarn, with sparkling copper/green tinged water (in contrast with the dark face of Goats Water) that brought out the geologist in his-knibs. The conical summit also provided an occasional eye-full of the Langdale Pikes and the much trodden Scafell range.

There were a fair number of waterproofed middle aged couples and coaches of forign students hanging about, especially on the way down, where
the sides of the Old Man were, at some point, the home to extensive copper mining and slate quarrying. The bucket lift etc. is still visible and gaggin' for A level photography students, loaded with Ilford XP2, to swarm over it like snapping locust.

Once past the quarry workings, the path leads on to Church Beck (near the YHA), and the last stretch follows the bank of the stream (which includes a series of waterfalls and lethally tempting plunge pools) back to the village.

A pint and pork snacks in the pub in Coniston, then spent the evening eating curry and copiloting Pig on God of War, while Holly slept.

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