Located in the southern Lake District, Coniston is a nice touristy village with a few pubs and teashops. The scope for climbing mountains in the area is limited to the summits surrounding the Old Man of Coniston.
The Old Man of Coniston has an impressive collection of corries and despite the old mines present, they are still a wild place with some of the corries having no paths in them. The Old Man itself is very popular and the ridge connecting it with Swirl How is often very busy. The paths around here are all well worn so navigation problems tend not to be so troublesome. Despite its relatively low height of 803m it forms a grand ridge with an east facing escarpment that drops in a succession of very steep grass slopes and broken crags for 200m. The northern end of this summit ridge ends at Great Carrs with Swirl How being the second prominent top. The next impressive peak lies out to the west called Dow Crag.
The next impressive peak lies out to the west. This is called Dow Crag and has the most impressive cliffs in the whole area a shear drop of 150m. A steep scree gully can be ascended easily passing to the south of the impressive main crags, ending suddenly on the rocky ridge. It is perhaps the finest peak to climb and is well worth visiting. The Club doesn't normally use the route up the scree gully due to the loose nature of the slope that could pose a hazard to large groups. But if you have the opportunity it's well worth going up. You need to be sure footed and be able to tolerate a steep drop behind you if you do go up this way.
Wetherlam lies off the main ridge of the Coniston group to the west. The views from the summit are among the finest in the Lake District, with a pleasant mix of woodland, pasture, lake and fell spread out before you. The traverse from Swirl How, over Swirl Hause to Wetherlam is quite an interesting route. The decent is steep and rough on quite a narrow ridge. On the ascent back up to Wetherlam the path becomes sketchy, meandering round and over various knolls and false summits before finally emerging onto the summit plateau.
As for low level walks, the wander through fields and woodland to Tarn Hows makes a pleasant and leisurely day out. To the North-West, Holme Fell makes an interesting and varied ascent with fine views from the summit even when cloud covers the higher peaks, although care must be taken to avoid the crags that litter it's sides. A visit to Yew Tree Farm Cafe, once owned by Beatrix Potter makes for a fine break. The general relief of the land does suggest that plenty of other fine low level walks exist.
To the west of the Coniston Group of Fells lies the Duddon Valley. In common with the other west facing valleys of the Lakes this tends to be a little quieter then the more accesible south eastern areas. The fells here don't quite match the height of those in the more famous valleys, but for those who like to get away from the crowds on the summit of the Old Man of Coniston, the fells on the Duddon valley side of the group, Grey Friar, Great Carrs make a great day out.
Coniston has about three pubs, one of which has its own micro brewery. There are also numerous teashops in the village so there is no excuse not to tickle those tastebuds!
Cumbria county council's journey planner gives details of routes to Ambleside where a connection to Coniston can be made. More specifically you can take a train to Windermere via Oxenholme and from there get a bus to Coniston, possibly having to change at Ambleside. A day bus ticket is 8£ and a train return ticket around 15£ with the 12-25 railcard.
Up Old Man from east via dis. mines, along Dow Crag, down.
13km, 900m ascent.
A classic hike 2! The last path does drag on, but this is more than made up for by the ascents of the Old Man and Dow Crag, all hikers did enjoy! Also was pleasant to bump into other groups along the way :)
Up Old Man from east via dis. mines, down west past Goat's Water.
11km, 750m ascent