Coniston Old Man is one of the most popular fells in the Lake District; visit the summit platform on a sunny day, whatever the season, and it will be thronged with walkers enjoying the extensive, 360-degree views. Not only are you able to look into the high, rocky heart of the Lakes, the Pennines are often visible and, on days when the air clarity is at its very best, you’ll be able to see the Isle of Man, Scotland and even Snowdonia in north Wales.
So, is that why the Old Man’s so popular? After all, at 2634ft (803m), it’s not exactly up there with the biggies – in fact, it’s only the 31st highest fell in the National Park. Its popularity will have a lot to do with those views but it’ll also be partly to do with the ease with which it can be climbed. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re not used to fell-walking, it can be a tough old haul to the top, but it’s less than 2.5 miles from the centre of Coniston to the summit – following, for much of the way, ancient tracks once used by miners and quarrymen.
If you don’t want to follow the ‘tourist route’ on to the fell though, there are other ways to approach the Old Man. If you enjoy striding out along superb, high-level ridges, combine it with a visit to Wetherlam and Swirl How to the north, or Dow Crag to the west. For a head-start on the crowds, consider staying at the YHA’s Coniston Coppermines hostel – it sits right at the rocky foot of the mountains, at almost 650ft above sea level.