The Old Man Of Coniston Walk is one of the most popular walks in the Lake District. It’s not one of the easy Lake District walks but it isn’t one of the hardest and highest like Scafell Pike and Helvellyn either… although it is more on the tough side!
The Old Man of Coniston is famous for being one of the Wainwright Fells and the biggest Coniston Fells, and I really enjoyed doing this hike!
There are a few different Old Man of Coniston walking routes like the circular route I did taking 4.5 hours, a longer circular route along Dow Crag too and a shorter, steeper circular route.
In this post, I’m going to tell you how to do the different Old Man of Coniston walks and the best route based on my experience. Plus, I’ll give you information on the Old Man of Coniston parking.
Old Man Of Coniston Walk
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Quick info for the Old Man of Coniston Walk:
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Average Time Needed: 4-6 hours
Suitable for Children: Not young children but ok for older children who are fit and like hiking
Suitable for Wheelchairs / Pushchairs: No
Parking Location: Walna Scar Car Park
Accessible by Public Transport: No unless you get the bus to Coniston and walk to the car park from here which adds a long and steep extra walk
Old Man of Coniston Walking Routes
Here are 4 main Old Man of Coniston walking routes you can follow depending on how long you want your walk to be. However remember they all require a push to the top and will take about 4 hours to 6 hours depending on your fitness and speed.
1. Old Man of Coniston Circular Walk
The walk I did is the main and most recommended circular walk because although it is steep in places and it does seem longer than the other options below, some of the footpaths are not consistently steep which gives you a break whereas the shorter paths on the Old Man of Coniston walk are all much steeper.
I have included an Old Man of Coniston walk map below. I recommend taking the longer western route first to the Old Man of Coniston summit via Goats Water and then take the shorter looking route down because this route is much steeper and easier to walk down than up.
This route starts in Walna Scar Car Park as do all of the walks up Old Man of Coniston on this list.
I go into more detail about this walk and how to do it below. It is a nearly 13km in length and took us 4.5 hours to do.
2. Old Man of Coniston Shorter Circular Route
This circular route up the Old Man of Coniston is shortened from about 13km to 6.5km because you cut a big section of the footpath out which goes via Goats Water as shown in the above Old Man of Coniston map and instead go straight through the middle and to the top of the Old Man of Coniston.
AllTrails details how to do this walk here.
I still recommend taking the footpath to the west first like in option 1 as if you were going to Goats Water, however only 1 km up the track you will see a sign pointing upwards that says ‘footpath to the Old Man’ and you take this steep path and continue up.
You will go down the same way as option 1 and all of the other options in this post.
3. Up & Down the Same Way
I do prefer a circular walk as it mixes up the scenery but of course you can go up and down the same way.
As per the the Old Man of Coniston map above, you can see that the western route goes around and is longer, it is still steep but not steep the whole way, whereas the Northern route to the summit is shorter but it is much steeper.
The shorter route is technically best if you are in a rush, however because it is much steeper it will tire you out more and could be scary if you do not have experience hiking.
I found the shorter way ok coming down but going up will be tough, keep that in mind.
4. Old Man of Coniston Long Circular Route
Finally, there is an even longer circular route that you can do. You start off as I suggest in option 1 taking the western footpath.
However instead of veering off to the right towards Goats Water, you stay on the main footpath (we accidentally walked along this path for awhile without realising and had to turn back), over a bridge and up Dow Crag which is the Crag you follow and see for most of the walk.
Head over the top of this and onto the Old Man of Coniston before heading down.
Old Man of Coniston Parking
The best Old Man of Coniston car park is Walna Scar Car Park, also just called Walna Scar on Google Maps.
The Walna Scar road from Coniston to Walna Scar is pretty steep to drive up so be prepared. It’s also a small country lane with access for 1 vehicle only but the only traffic coming should be hikers going to and from the Old Man of Coniston.
Walna Scar Road Car Park takes cash or you can pay via app and there is signal in the car park.
There is a car park on the edge of Coniston called Old Station Car Park which you can park in and walk up the road to Walna Scar to start the hike, however this road is steep to drive up and will definitely be steep and long to walk up adding a whole layer of extra difficultly to your Old Man of Coniston hike.
Old Man of Coniston Circular Walk
Let me go through how to do the Old Man of Coniston circular walk I did in 4.5 hours as I really enjoyed it and think it is the best route.
The Old Man of Coniston start point is Walna Scar car park.
Take the main looking footpath up going away continuing away from the road you drove up to get to the car park.
This footpath remains fairly flat and nice as you can see below.
DO NOT follow the ‘footpath to the Old Man’ sign written on some slate as this takes you directly through the middle along a steep path. We took it by accident before realising it was wrong and I was fully out of breath just part the way up!
The footpath suddenly gets narrower and goes between the below 2 rocky areas before opening out again.
This is where you need to look out for the footpath going right, it is just above the rocks in the above photo and it is alongside one of the streams that creates a small waterfall.
This footpath is also pretty nice, it is not really steep and continues straight all the way to Goats Water.
You DO NOT have to cross a nice stone bridge to go this way, so if you continue all the way up the main track to a nice stone bridge, you have taken the extra long Old Man of Coniston walk via Dow Crag so you need to go back about 10 minutes.
At Goat’s Water the path gets a bit tricky to follow and to walk over as it’s mainly just rocks. It is best to keep fairly close to the water without going too high as this is where the official footpath is.
At the end of Goat’s Lake you can see the path zig zagging up to the top (although not Old Man of Coniston summit just yet), the path is mainly made from stones and formed into steps so it is really easy to follow and although it is steep, it’s not scary steep.
Once at the top it’s time to walk along the ridge to the top of the Old Man of Coniston! Because we were high I thought we were close but we really weren’t and the incline continued.
As you can see from my photos, although it was clear when we started the Old Man of Coniston walk, we were up in the clouds now and my rain jacket was needed!
The Old Man of Coniston weather can change dramatically so always pack and be prepared for a variety of weather.
You’ll know you’re at the summit because you’ll see the National Trust Summit Stone plus a big pile of stones.
Now to head back down, we continued on the path away from the direction we came in.
The way back down is mostly steep and quite windy so take care and walk carefully. You can see in the photo below the zig zagging path.
As you get further down you’ll see remains from the old mines and quarries which are good to see and they also mark the hardest part of the hike down done.
From here, it is still a long way back to the Old Man of Coniston car park but once you get to the last corner you’ll see it is straight and mostly flat to the end which is well needed.
I hope you this post has helped you plan your Old Man of Coniston Walk!
- For more of my Lake District and hiking posts see:
- 10 Easy Lake District Walks! Beginner, Circular, Flat & Short Walks!
- Full Lake District Day Trip! How to Spend 1 Day in the Lake District!
- How To Do Orrest Head Walk from Lake Windermere Easily!
- How To Do Dale Head Walk in the Lake District.
- How To Do Dovestone Reservoir Walk, Easy Circular Walk in Peak District.
- How To Do Thor’s Cave Walk! An Easy Walk In The Peak District.