Day 2 …. May 9 …. Coniston To Elterwater Via Old Man …. 18 miles

Most cyclists were gone when I arose at 6:30. Not many eating breakfast; very good coffee and food for a hostel. It was greatly appreciated. I left by 8:15 and was soon passing in back of Sun Inn. Before walking to Elterwater today, my plan was to loop over Swirl Hause, then to Old Man Coniston by way of Swirl How, Great How Crag and Brim Fell. The weather was fantastic today, blue skies with some white fluffies.

2nd Day - Trailhead For Coniston Loop Behind Hotel

Climbing Out of Coniston Up To Swirl How And The Old Man Of Coniston

After passing Coppermines YHA, the gravel road ends and I could either backtrack to a higher path or cross the beck on a bridge and follow waterfalls up to Levers Water (a reservoir). I chose the waterfall path as it looked a little more exciting. The waterfalls were spectacular and close enough to get splashed.

Following Waterfalls Up To Levers Waters

Skirting Lever’s Water, I eventually met the other path and came to Swirl Hause on the ridge loop. This is where, five years ago, in ferociously windy and freezing weather, I turned back down to Coniston after climbing Wetherlam.

This morning, in fine weather, a runner came by off Wetherlam, then another came by off the fells. As I started up to Swirl How, I met a walker coming down. He had been to the Old Man, walking for three hours, I’ve been walking for two hours.

Climbing Up To The Summit and Ridge Of Swirl How

Swirl How Summit Cairn Looking West

It was a rocky climb up to the summit of Swirl How. On top, there were great views in all directions. I was on a true ridge that stretches all the way to Old Man Coniston, seemingly on top of the world.

Looking East From Swirl How Across Great How Crag And Brim Fell

Looking East Across Brim Fell To Old Man of Coniston

Some walkers came up Gill Cove to walk Dow Crag, another dramatic scarf of rock to the south. At Brim Fell, just before Old Man, a friendly couple took my photo with Dow Crag in the background.

Gregg In Front Of Dow Crag

Old Man Summit Cairn

I reached the Old Man Coniston summit, 2631 feet, at noon and ate a piece of homemade chocolate from the hostel before descending. By then, this poor mountain top was covered with exhausted humans. The trail leaped straight down.

Checking Out The Descent From Old Man Summit

Slate Mine Halfway Down From Old Man

Many people were struggling coming up, looking unprepared for such a difficult climb. I passed through dramatic slate quarries with open mines and huge leavings on the hillside. I was in Coniston by 13:30, and stopped at a table outside a pub to eat a banana and energy bar to prepare for the walk to Elterwater.

Back on the Cumbria Way, I had to navigate a mass of people at the cycle race finish line to access Shepherd’s Bridge and the countryside. At Tarn How Cottage, I made a wrong turn, or rather, I went straight through a gate with a yellow arrow instead of turning left to Tarn How. I soon realized my mistake and, audaciously consulting my map and compass, found another path to Tarn How.

Passing Tarn How Cottage On Path To Langdale

After the lovely walk around the tarn, I made my way to Skelwith Bridge and then Elterwater village along the Cumbria Way path past Elter Water. My objective for the night was High Close YHA, up on top of the bank (ridge) on the way to Grasmere. I looked longingly at tourists eating at the Brittannia Inn as I passed by, but knew I would have dinner at the hostel.

Langdale Hostel At End Of 2nd Day - My Lodging For The Night

It was a long steep climb to the hostel and I was extremely tired. Halfway up, my legs gave out. A car came along and I flagged him down. He was going to Grasmere and gave me a ride to the hostel. Not my finest hour, but I was very appreciative of his help. In retrospect, I should have broken this day into two and spent a little more time in Coniston, perhaps adding Wetherlam to the walk. The second day, I could have spent some extra time in Little Langdale.

I arrived at 18:00, sorted out my room and popped into the dining hall where others were already eating. They were a walking group from Liverpool, out for four days. The warden set my beer down at an adjacent table but they all called me over to join them. They were a jolly group, all in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, with several bottles of wine to lighten the day’s load and we had a nice evening together. My tired legs were forgotten but I did need a Compeed for a blister on the sole of my left foot before going to bed.

Oh, by the way, as you can tell from the photo, the hostel architecture was grand, a late Victorian mansion with a sweeping porch, beautifully wood paneled rooms and huge fireplaces. Worth the visit!

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