Coppermines & Levers Water

28th November 2021

By mid afternoon yesterday I was all set to walk the III Bell ridge from Jesus Church, Troutbeck but given that we were still suffering the tail end of Storm Awren I thought it best I come up with a plan B. The mountain forecast was released around tea time which predicted a bright morning with the odd snow shower thickening by the afternoon. It looked like I was going to have to rely on my plan B after all.

Plan B was to revisit Black Sails but what do you mean revisit? Well, after Dad's passing I thought I'd clear my head by walking Black Sails but after receiving a phone call from the undertaker at Levers Water, well I couldn't think of anything else other than wanting to return home, was it too soon after Dads death, possibly, but I knew I'd have completed the walk had I not taken that phone call.

I needed to draw a line under the Black Sails and Wetherlam walk hence why I chose it to be todays second choice whereafter a gorgeous sunrise I thought I was in for one of those special kind of days but for the second time in a row I wouldn't be summiting Black Sails or Wetherlam today, that isn't to say that I didn't make do with what was presented before me.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells
This fine hill, however, is too vast and sturdy to be disfigured and weakened by mans feeble scratching’s of its surface, and remains today, as of old, a compelling presence to which walkers in Brathay will off turn their eager steps.

Ascent: 1,826 Feet - 556 Metres
Wainwrights: N/A
Weather: Overcast With Snow Falling Throughout. Highs of 1°C Lows of 0°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Ruskin Museum, Coniston
Area: Southern
Miles: 4.5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 3 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Ruskin Museum – Miners Bridge – Church Beck – Hole Rake - Coppermines Valley - Levers Water - Coppermines Valley - Miners Bridge - Ruskin Museum

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA2 18DW
Notes: Coniston is a very popular village providing access to the ever popular Coniston Fells, below is a list of car parks found within the village with exceptions of the roadside parking that I tend to use close to Ruskin Museum where parking is free.

Coniston Tourist Information Centre (Pay and Display) Ruskin Avenue Coniston LA21 8EH SD 303 597 ~ Car Park (Pay and Display) Old Furness Road, Coniston LA21 8HU SD 299 897 ~ Lake Road Car Park (Pay and Display) Lake Road, Coniston LA21 8EW SD 307 097 ~ Roadside Parking, Ruskin Museum, Coniston, Parking is Free LA2 18DW SD 301 597 ~ Car Park, Coniston Sports and Social Centre, Charges Apply LA21 8AL SD 305 397


Map and Photo Gallery


Sunrise over Ings 07:58am
Yet again the sunrise caught my eye as I drove along the A591 towards Windermere so I found a layby and took a few snaps. Just look at that cloud.

Sunlight breaches Silver How seen from above Skelwith Bridge.
It's looking like it's going to be a promising day on the hill.

Miners Bridge above Church Beck.

Storm Awren has wreaked havoc across Cumbria passing two fallen trees on the A591 one of which had been coned of but was yet to be dealt with and two more just outside Coniston which had taken down a stone wall too.

The Environmental Agencies had attended both scenes making the road passable but it was easy to tell they're going to have their work cut out over the next few weeks. I parked easily and instantly noticed it wasn't as cold as it had been forecasted with the mercury still above zero but with that said I was taking no chances and kit up for a cold day on the hill.

Brim Fell, Swirl How and Kennal Crag seen above Coppermines.
I told myself to lay off the gas as I walked towards Miners Bridge but my legs just weren't listening and before I knew it it was decision time. Given that the forecast has been turned on its head I chose to ascend Wetherlam first leaving time for the skies to clear during the morning as forecasted. I took the right fork and started the steady ascent towards Hole Rake by which time it had started to snow.

Young girl calls it a day.
The snow started to flurry then got heavier and before I knew it I was walking head first into what I thought was just a snow shower. I tightened my hood over my beanie and continued to ascend before looking up to find a young girl walking towards me, we pass and I remark "you was up early" no she replied "I've decided to turn back, the ice and visibility further up was becoming a problem I really should have a pair of poles like yours she laughed" "Always trust your first instinct" I smiled, never second guess it you've made the right choice I say.

A lot can happen it ten minutes.

The snow continued to fall which really wasn't problem at all and neither was the threatening visibility, the issue I was having was traction, or total lack of it. It's been a very wet week in Lakeland and during the last two days the temperatures had plummeted causing the water logged paths to freeze.

In came Storm Arwen which left a dusting of snow over said ice which was causing conditions to become treacherous underfoot. The gentle decline you see here was frozen underneath and it took me a few minutes to descend, it was the same for the ascent out of Hole Rake, short steps while trying not to out perform Torvil and Dean.

Performing the splits.

Trying to ascend out of Hole Rake was like watching a hamster run around on a wheel, I just wasn't getting anywhere and soon I was beginning to lose patience while thinking "if it's like this here" well you know the rest...

I now why the young girl had called it and not even a pair of walking poles would have helped with todays challenge. Had I been caught of guard, possibly but I certainly wasn't going to worry over it, I too call it above Hole Rake while thinking flipping eck I've gotta do all that skating again.

The view over Coppermines towards Coniston Old Man.
The snow continued to fall covering the tracks I'd made not twenty minutes ago. It looked like the snow was in for the morning so I set about thinking what to do next, I could always have a walk around Tarn Hows or Tilberthwaite but there's plenty to explore here in Coppermines I thought.

Heading towards the ruined Launder Tower with the Black Sails ridge seen in the distance.
I took a direct descent from Hole Rake and soon reached the old mine path bound for the Red Dell valley and the ruined Launder Tower. Just below are the ruins of Bonsor East mine.

Kennel Crag and Black Sails.
You'd be forgiven that I'd taken this photo with my camera in mono mode but you couldn't be further from the truth. No camera trickery just Coppermines in the snow.

Frozen path with fresh snow falling on top.
Even at just 900ft ABSL the path had frozen leaving me doing the splits again when I was caught off guard.


Moor How, Lad Stone Ends and Wetherlam.
After passing the Launder Tower I turned left and began a short and slippery ascent below Kennel Crag.

Kennel Crag.
It was quite a surreal moment because the wind had died to nothing leaving the snowflakes drifting down like feathers with Kennel Crag and its mass of snow covered boulders below. I could have stayed here much longer than I did.

Raven Tor comes into view.
As I pass below Kennel Crag.

Lots more where this came from.
Having passed below Kennel Crag I re-joined the track bound for Levers Water and struggled up the slope while picking out the pointed rocks for traction. Just two weeks ago I walked up here in Autumn sunshine and today I'm struggling to make any momentum.

Great How Crag and Prison Band from Levers Water.
I ditched the path and ascended using heather for the last 50 yards or so determined to make Levers Water without falling on my backside. I didn't expect to see anyone at Levers Water and got my wish finding for a second time an overwhelming sense of calm. It was just me and the sound of snow landing on my hood.

Coniston Old Man and Raven Tor from Levers Water.

I spent a few more minutes taking in the silence before deciding it was time to head down and more importantly what was my plan of attack for my descent, slow and easy. I made my way down trying to use any exposed stone as leverage which worked to some extent but the unseen ice and pain in my groin was a constant reminder of previous splits.

Further down the snow compacted and I was able to use wider steps before finding myself directly below Kennel Crag (Lower path) The Old Man remained below cloud for the duration as traction took hold the lower I decsended and soon I was accompanied by the sound of Leverswater Beck cascading down into the valley. A deserted YHA Coppermines was passed where I looked back into the mono of the Red Dell valley. Two weeks ago from the same spot golden Autumn leaves still hung from the trees with a blue cloudless sky beyond.

The last time I abandoned a walk was December 2011 Today and for whatever reason, for whatever power urged me too was the second time in my fell walking career, sometimes just as the young girl had, you've gotta go with that gut feeling.


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