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Coniston Scrambles Link-up Walking

With a complex layout of spurs and summits the Coniston fells allow for all sorts of route combinations. For scramblers the east side of the range is fertile ground, with a number of coves generously scattered with perfect rough rock. This round links three of the best scrambles in the area, plus three decent summits, in a challenging mountaineering journey best suited to experienced scramblers. Hit the hardest bit first with a serious grade 3 scramble up Low Water Beck. Continue via the delightful grade 2 slabs on Brim Fell’s east face en route to the summit of Coniston Old Man. It’s Great How next, an adventurous grade 2/3 scramble leading onto Swirl How. Finish with an evening stride over Wetherlam.

The Coppermines Valley from the Brim Fell scramble  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
The Coppermines Valley from the Brim Fell scramble
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Detailed description

SD3015897734 Follow the track along Levers Water Beck to Coniston Coppermines YHA, then leftwards past the hostel. Go uphill beside the beck and then across the stream towards a small working quarry. Soon turn right onto a footpath up marshy slopes to meet a contouring trail. Head right along this to the Pudding Stone, a giant boulder beside Low Water Beck. The first scramble is dead ahead, where the beck cascades down a heathery crag.

SD2781498416 At the foot of the falls is a narrow slot; climb rock immediately on its right into a recess at the base of a cascade. Go right up steep rock to a heather ledge. Cut up right to reach a grassy ledge just beneath a rock wall. Step very carefully left along a foot traverse, then climb easier ground right of the stream to a final scary step left at the top of the falls. (Nb. This serious start can be avoided by looping left to re-join the beck above the lower falls). Now follow the beck up a series of slabs, where difficulties are optional. When the beck cuts through an unclimbable cleft move left into a grassy corner, then back right to re-join the water. Step left for a stunning finish up the edge of a big tilted slab. Continue uphill to Low Water.
On the optional top slab of Low Water Beck... it takes effort to look this cool  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
On the optional top slab of Low Water Beck... it takes effort to look this cool
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jun 2015

SD2756298358 Above the tarn are three distinct crags: aim for the rightmost, a broken slabby face just right of a small stream. Climb the lowest slabs - enjoyable ground with a choice of lines. Continue up grass and outcrops, then trend slightly right past scree to the foot of the upper buttress. This starts very steeply (helpful holds), but soon shelves into shallower slabs. Continue straight up to reach a bigger, steeper crag. Briefly climb a gully to its left, then bear right up good rock above the steep lower wall. The top of Brim Fell soon arrives. Head south along the grassy ridge to the summit of The Old Man of Coniston.

SD2721997806 Return over Brim Fell and continue north into the col of Levers Hawse. Cut right down an eroded path towards Levers Water. Prominent on your left is a steep crag at the foot of the Little How buttress; Great How, the line you're after, is about 500m northeast. On about the 450m contour traverse the pathless hillside until below Great How, identified by the stepped crag on its right side.

SD2761299805 (Nb: this committing scramble could be avoided well to the left). Aim left of centre on the crag and climb ill-defined ground to a little ledge capped with an overhang. Move up and left along the ledge with difficulty. Go up a grassy gully for 7 - 8m, then move right on rock steps to a sloping vegetated ledge. At its far right climb a corner onto a terrace below a mass of slabs and walls. Clamber rightwards over stacked boulders, make a very steep pull up a triangular recess, then step right along a precarious ledge. Easier scrambling follows, finishing with a small pinnacle that's climbed on its left side. A path leads up the easier upper buttress to the rocky summit of Great How. A short walk north leads to Swirl How.
Coniston from the top of Great How  © Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com
Coniston from the top of Great How
© Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com, Jun 2015

NY2726400533 Go east-northeast to descend the rough Prison Band ridge into Swirl Hawse. An easier trail now leads up across the north flank of Black Sails and onto the summit of Wetherlam. Now descend south-southeast, then south, down the broad grassy ridge to meet a better defined path in a hollow just above the Coppermines Valley. This leads down in zigzags to the valley track of stage 1.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey - UKHillwalking.com

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