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Eskdale YHA to Coniston Holly How YHA

This walk is part of the trek Six days in The Lake District, five YHAs, twenty-five Wainwrights.

Day 5 of a circular route walking through the Lake District. Three Wainwrights, four tarns and a pub.

Technical sheet
No. 2950519
A Cumbria walk posted on 04/02/20 by El Sud. Update : 23/03/20
Calculated time Calculated time: 7h30[?]
Distance Distance : 10.16mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 3904ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 3940ft
Highest point Highest point : 2602ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 220ft
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Area Area : Lake District
Location Location : Cumbria
Starting point Starting point : N 54.398769° / W 3.240279°
Arrival Arrival : N 54.37328° / W 3.075633°
Download : -


(D) From YHA Eskdale, go down to the road, turn right over Bleabeck Bridge and follow the road past the Woolpack Inn. About 50 yards further on, take the first road left that should take you down to Doctor Bridge. Go straight on after the bridge, up to Penny Hill Farm. Shortly after the farm, take the path to the right heading straight up towards Kepple Crag. A 90º left hand turn takes you towards a sheepfold then the path continues sharply uphill. Just below the crag, the path turns again 90º to the left following the dry-stone wall. This should take you over a small beck, turning right uphill again, then bearing left to cross Spothow Gill. Ignore the main path left and right that follows Spothow Gil and aim for the top of Harter Fell to gain height and you should join the main path going up to the summit. Follow the cairns until you reach the tripoint at the top of Harter Fell (twenty-second Wainwright at 654m).

(1) From the summit at Harter Fell, head south-east, dropping quite steeply to Maiden Castle. The path quite clearly takes you over Mart Crag and ends up at Birks (an old outdoor adventure site). Take the path down the side of Dunnerdale Forest, which you enter after the fire break, to cross a small bridge over the River Duddon. When you come out onto the road, turn left for about 50 yards then right along the path to Brow Side. Here, turn left to head north-east towards The Close. The path winds round to the right and climbs up Foss How, eventually coming close to Tarn Beck which flows out of Seathwaite Tarn with a lot of noise due to the waterfalls under the dam.

(2) Continue towards Seathwaite Tarn, ignoring the track that comes up on the other side of the beck, keeping close to Burnt Crag and Tarn Brow. The path follows the edge of the tarn (which is in fact a reservoir) and then passes by some disused mines. The path turns right to head almost due south to cross Tarn Head Beck (which can be quite tricky if the weather is bad or heavy rain has filled the tributary streams). However, you should see the path crawling up Little Pikes on the left hand side of Far Gill. This should take you to Goat's Hawse where you should see Goat's Water down below. The path turns 90º left and heads straight up to the cairn on Brim Fell (twenty-third Wainwright at 796m). Looking north-east you should be able to see Levers Water and Wetherlam. The ridge route heading south goes down about 30m then climbs steadily to reach the summit of The Old Man of Coniston (twenty-fourth Wainwright at 802m).

(3) Having rested, eaten and drunk some water, the route is now fairly clear (in good weather, at least). Follow the cairns going down, first south-east then quickly north-east, zig-zagging down to Low Water. Before you reach this, the path turns 90º right and into a maze of disused slate quarries. The path should be obvious, heading almost due east past Stubthwaite Crag, reaching a crossroads of paths left and right. Ignore all these and head straight down to Levers Water Beck (you should be able to see YHA Coniston Copper Mines on the other side of the valley), bearing right to follow the water down to Miners Bridge. Cross over the beck and follow the track down towards Coniston. The track continues to hug the mountain round to the left, passing Holywath that's hidden behind the forest. When the road swings to the right, take the path that goes through a gate to the left and follows the dry-stone wall towards Far End. Alternatively, head down to the village, next to Church Beck, and past the Ruskin Museum. to reach the Black Bull Inn (a 400 year old coaching house). If you've skipped the pub, at a junction behind the Youth Hostel and a row of cottages, turn right to go down to a gate and the road. Turn right and in 50 yards turn right to YHA Coniston (Holly How).(A)

Waypoints :
D : mi 0 - alt. 292ft - YHA Eskdale
1 : mi 2.7 - alt. 2080ft - Harter Fell
2 : mi 4.89 - alt. 1155ft - Seathwaite Tarn
3 : mi 7.6 - alt. 2556ft - The Old Man of Coniston
A : mi 10.16 - alt. 259ft - YHA Coniston Holly How

Useful Information

There are plenty of places to fill your water bottle along the route. If the weather is poor and visibility low, keep to the valleys. At the crossing of Spothow Gill, the track going right weaves around the base of Harter Fell and reaches Birks without much climbing. Getting around The Old Man of Coniston is a bit more difficult but you can follow the route along Seathwaite Tarn then head up to Levers Hawes before dropping down to Levers Water and then to Coniston Copper Mines. An alternative is the Walna Scar Road that can be reached from Long House.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

If you have time and energy, before leaving Eskdale, take the route up Stanley Ghyll to Stanley Ghyll Force, 60 foot high waterfall in a dramatic deep and narrow gorge. Very Victorian feel about the place, with rhododendrons and wooden bridges that must have been the delight of the visiting gentry. Maybe the name also has a certain adventurer feel to it.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.