Coniston Old Man, the 2635 feet high fell classified as the seventh highest mountain in England, lies above the charming village of Coniston. The side of the fell bear the scars of past copper mining and slate quarrying. Coppermines Valley is the name of the vale beneath the fell, its name confirming its industrial past. However, the Old Man of Coniston is a much more peaceful place today.
A path leads from the Black Bull Hotel and follows the course of Church Beck as far as the old youth hostel at the Copper Mines. The track continues to Low Water, past the ugly mining scars on the hillside. The path then passes beneath the crags before rising sharply to the summit. There is a lovely view from the top. To the south and west are Coniston Lake, rich woodlands and Morecambe Bay, whilst to the north and east is a starker landscape of crags and peaks as far as the table-top shape of Ingleborough in Yorkshire.
There are several possible routes down Coniston Old Man. One of these is to head south via Cove Quarries to the Walna Scar road. Another route is down to Goats Water on the west side. From this path there is a good view of the magnificent Dow Crag area. The path then follows the course of the river from the tarn down to the road again. The climb up this peak is strenuous.
Harter Fell is 2143 feet in height and can be approached from the Woolpack Inn in the Eskdale Valley. A lane crosses the river by Doctor’s bridge and leads to Penny Hill. A steep footpath turns off to the right and joins another track after crossing the mountain stream. The path isn’t well-marked but the summit can be seen plainly. This climb is definitely a scramble and it is best to avoid the crags on the northern slope.
There is a good view of both the Eskdale and the Duddon valley and the Scafell peaks can be seen to the north. Another route down is in the direction of Bowfell. Once again, it is over fairly rough and broken ground towards Hard Knott Pass. This eventually leads down to Boot.
The Knott is 2329 high and can be climbed from Lower Hartsop, which lies on the route between Windermere and Patterdale. A rough track leads up to the tarn of Hayeswater. Just below this, a footpath leads by way of a stile to the summit of The Knott.
Walks in this area are often combined with climbs of other peaks around the High Street, a high plateau with a number of cairns. It is worth going via the bottom of Steep Knotts to make a visit to the interesting old Martindale Church.