Coniston Seven Summits Trail runningWalking

The circuit of the Coppermines Valley skyline is rightfully a classic, blending fascinating industrial archaeology, jewel-like tarns and lofty ridges both grassy and rocky. For hardly any extra effort, the summit of Great Carrs can be visited, increasing your Wainwright tally to five. Once you’re there, the out-and-back to Grey Friar looks a modest additional outlay. And, once you've succumbed to the temptation of six, how could you resist the come-hither of Dow Crag, completing all seven summits in one outing?

Looking north from Coniston Old Man over Swirl How and Wetherlam  © Norman Hadley
Looking north from Coniston Old Man over Swirl How and Wetherlam
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Detailed description

SD3019997631 Head out of the village past the Co-op and the Ruskin Museum. The road passes the delightfully wooded banks of Church Beck then turns into a wide, stony track. Soon after a cattle grid, you reach the small Miner's Bridge above a fine gorge.

SD2942598039 Cross the bridge then follow the path up the southern bank. This rises to the left, passing through hill pastures but surrounded by the evidence of mineral-winning. Head up to the double intersection of tracks. Be careful not to be swayed either to the left (Walna Scar car park) or right (the Boulder Valley) but keep heading up on stony zigzags.

SD2775898081 A big rightward zag takes you to Low Tarn: a pleasant spot for paddling or swimming, in a magnificent cirque. Head up to the left then zigzag up to the skyline. Turn right to the top of the Old Man, adorned by its distinctive rocky pedestal. Saunter northwards along the easy, rounded ridge to Brim Fell. It might seem eccentric to visit this before Dow Crag but it will save you some re-ascent later.

SD2706598553 Double back to your left and drop on a south-westerly line to Goat's Hause.

SD2659998264 Follow the obvious line up to the beautiful rocky turret of Dow Crag: a contender for Lakeland's finest summit, as supported by no less an authority than Wainwright.

SD2625897788 Retrace your steps to Goat's Hause.

SD2672898365 Take a sneaky, rising line on a nor-noreast bearing, quite thin at first but gaining in clarity. This is the dodge that minimises re-ascent and will take you quietly round to Levers Hause.

SD2712699572 Follow a thin contouring line on the left, to a useful spring at 720m (marked "Ford" on the OS map)

NY2692000353 Keep contouring to the flat grassy col of Fairfield, not to be confused with the more famous summit to the east.

NY2655700676 A quick out-and-back will win you Grey Friar, with its superb view of the Scafells. Back at the col, head east-north-east to the escarpment of Great Carr, with the valley of Greenburn falling away beneath your toes.

NY2705700936 Follow the edge round to Swirl How.

NY2727400551 Drop west on the rocky ridge of Prison Band to Swirl Hause. Head up to the left, bypassing the minor top of Black Sail to your final summit of Wetherlam.

NY2879601100 Head south on a sketchy path, passing a minor tarn and following the brow of the Lad Stones ridge.

SD2909399530 Avoid going too far down this ridge as it falls away steeply at the end. Instead, swing left down grassy slopes to the strongly-visible path of Hole Rake. Follow this down easy zigzags back to Miners' Bridge and the mine road back to the start.

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