A Coniston Round from Church Beck

17th September 2022

The M6 closure between junctions 32-33 planned for this weekend had been scrapped ahead of mourners flocking to London to attend the Queens funeral which meant I could at least get up to the Lakes to walk on Saturday, however, as of writing this I can't confirm if the closures will continue for the following weekend. I guess I'll have to play it by ear.

The weather looked fantastic for Saturday leaving most of the park under bright Autumn sunshine and it was great to think I had the whole of the park to choose a walk from. I last walked Black Sails back on my birthday this year but it's been sometime since I last walked the Brim Fell ridge linking Swirl How with the Old Man.

Brim Fell has always held a special place in my heart going back to a string of sunset walks I did but more so as Brim Fell is the last Lakeland fell I visited before the country was put into lockdown. Back then we never knew the gravity of it all but every one knew life wouldn't be the same for the foreseeable and that included me. I literally had to tear myself away from the summit that night or I'd have been benighted. Today I'm returning to visit to an old friend.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells

Brim Fell is the mile-long whale backed ridge linking Coniston Old Man with Swirl How, the latter fell being joined at the narrow depression of Levers Hawse, a high pass across the main watershed.


Ascent: 3,279 Feet - 999 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Swirl How - Brim Fell - Coniston Old Man
Visiting: 2, Black Sails - Great How Crags
Weather: A Bright & Sunny Day, Feeling Brisk Over The Summits & Warm in The Valleys. Highs of 15°C Lows of 2°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Church Beck
Area: Southern
Miles: 8
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 4 Hours 45 Minutes
Route: Church Beck - Miners Bridge - Coppermines - Levers Water - Black Sails - Swirl Hawse - Prison Band - Swirl How - Swirl Band - Great How Crags - Levers Hawse - Brim Fell - Coniston Old Man - Coppermines - Miners Bridge - Church Beck

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA2 18DW

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


Windermere from Waterhead 07:15am 3°C
Mist loomed over the surface of Windermere as I drove through Waterhead so I stopped the car to take a few photos. What I didn't expect to see was this wild swimmer peacefully treading water. Rather them than me it's barely 3°C

Heading towards Miners Bridge 07:45am 3°C

What a difference half an hour makes. I arrived in Coniston nice and early and other than the newsagents, Coniston was still sleeping. Turning right off the main street I passed the Ruskin Museum and was able to take my pick on where to park, having this choice gave me time to spin the car around so I was facing the right way for my return. Morning sunshine streaked through the trees as Church Beck provided the chorus as I kitted up.

Despite the cooler temperatures there's a cloudless sky overhead and a slight frost underfoot but I'm not at the stage of wearing hat and gloves just yet. There wasn't a breath of wind as I locked my car and began the steady plod towards Miners Bridge before passing two chaps and their three Labradors where a 'morning' nod was exchanged.

Coniston Old Man and Brim Fell from Coppermines Valley.
I followed the track through Coppermines passing Miners Row cottages where I was passed by a JCB whose driver gave me another 'morning' nod. After the dust had settled I continued towards Coppermines Youth Hostel where I was greeted by the smell of smoky bacon being cooked. Good grief the smell was enough to stop me in my tracks

Industrial heritage.
Both old and new.

The summit of Raven Tor and Levers Water Beck falls.
I followed the track alongside Levers Water Beck passing the falls with the cleft of of Simon's Nick just above. It was here I caught up with a couple and their dog who inquisitivly barked at me as I passed with a 'morning'

Levers Water, Great How Crags and Prison Band.
I continued to follow the track which was rough underfoot and not to mention, steep in places. Levers Water was soon reached and like many other reservoirs in Lakeland the water level was alarmingly low. I was here in May and if anything, the level seems to have dropped even further.

Looking back over Levers Water towards Coniston Old Man, Boulder Valley, Brim Fell and Raven Tor.
A faint path leads away from Levers Water towards Erin Crag where the real ascent begins.

The view back from Erin Crag.
Here looking towards, Levers Water, Raven Tor, Boulder Valley, Coniston Old Man and Brim Fell.

From Erin Crag...
...this classic view of the Black Sails ridge appears. I'd actually planned to walk todays route in reverse but it was this view that changed my mind. Aye I know you get the same view walking down but then I'd have to keep turning around.

Black Sails, Red Dell Head and Wetherlam.
With Swirl Hawse seen left which goes on to form Prison Band.

Black Sails.
With a clearer view of the Red Dell Valley seen right.

Swirl Hawse and Prison Band.
I'll be over there soon.

Another view of Coniston Old Man and Levers Water.
With extended views towards Coniston Water and Morecambe Bay.

The wider view...
...also capturing Great How Crags over on the right.

Looking down into the Red Dell Valley.
I'm almost at the summit now but I make a short detour over Red Dell Moss to take in the view of the valley below.

Wetherlam seen beyond Red Dell Moss.
You might just be able to make out the prominent path in the bottom right corner which passes over Red Dell Moss and joins up with the path for Wetherlam.

Coniston Old Man, Levers Water, Brim Fell and Great How Crags from Black Sails summit.
Within minutes I was standing on Black Sails summit while being treated to a slight wind chill which hovered just above zero. The bright sunshine kind'a balanced out the chill although I wouldn't have blamed anyone for wearing a hat and gloves right about now.

From Black Sails summit.

I took in the view over Wetside Edge towards Pike O'Blisco, the Langdale Pikes with extended views towards Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Helvellyn range. I would later learn that David was walking Bow Fell from ODG and during a later email this evening David commented on how warm it was today.


Heading towards Swirl Hawse and Prison Band.
As I take in the glorious views of Swirl How (left) and Great Carrs (right)

Prison Band on Swirl How.
It was here I passed the same couple and their dog during my ascent towards Levers Water earlier. As it turns out they were on holiday and were meant to be travelling back today but stayed the extra day after seeing how nice todays forecast was.

Looking back on Swirl Hawse and Wetherlam as I ascend Prison Band.

For anyone who knows me would agree that I am very much a people person. I can talk to complete strangers like I'd known them all my life but if there's one thing that I find really annoying is when other walkers 'assume' you're either lost or on your first time on the hill just like the guy with the Southern Counties accent who told me "don't worry, you're nearly there"

I guess my blank stare and silence spoke a thousand words.

Great Carrs seen over the top of Broad Slack.
With the Scafell range beyond. I guess right about now David would be making his way down Bow Fell heading for Crinkle Crags.

Swirl How impressive summit cairn.
With most of the hard work done I'm really looking forward to walking the ridge to the Old Man now which I haven't walked in almost three years.

Looking back on Swirl How, Prison Band, Swirl Hawse, Black Sails and Wetherlam.
Seeing that I'm making good progress I find time to wander away from the path to take in the views you don't normally get to see.

From Swirl Band...
I take in the view over Levers Water Bottom towards the Black Sails ridge and Wetherlam.

Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Dow Crag and Seathwaite Tarn from Great How Crags summit.
From Swirl Band I left the path and made the short detour to summit Great How Crags. That's Black Comb you can see in the distance.

Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Dow Crag, Seathwaite Tarn and Black Comb.
Returning to the path you get the same magnificent view.

From Levers Hawse I take in the view towards Seathwaite Tarn, Harter Fell (Eskdale) and Green Crag.
With the Birker Fells seen beyond.

Grey Friar with its magnificent South West ridge.

With Harter Fell (Eskdale) seen left.

From Levers Hawse I look back on Great How Crags, Swirl How and Great Carrs.
Given the perfect conditions I'm surprised that I've only seen less than half a dozen people all morning.

Great How Crags, Great Carrs, Swirl How and Wetherlam from Brim Fell summit.
I'd passed no one since leaving Swirl How and even managed to have some lone time at Brim Fell where I sat down on the rock (seen left) for a few minutes while taking in the view over Dow Crag.

Coniston Old Man from Brim Fell.
I'm not complaining but where is everybody! I will soon get my answer.

Looking back on Brim Fell, Swirl How and Great Carrs.
With Low Water, Boulder Valley, Levers Water, Black Sails and Wetherlam beyond.

Coniston Old Man summit.

I arrived at the summit at the same time as a couple who had ascended from Goats Hawse and were taking photos of their dog who they'd placed on top of the summit trig point. I was asked would I mind I take a group photo which of course I obliged and was thanked with 'by the way, congratulations on making the summit'

Raises palm of hand to forehand and slaps ones self.

My choice of descent.
It doesn't look busy from up here but I can confirm the path below was very busy which also included two very large walking groups.

Low Water.
Just like Cat Bells Coniston Old Man is a family fell which draws the crowds in especially on a nice day such as today.

Smithy Bank mine buildings 1740 - 1950
With the Black Sails Ridge, the Red Dell Valley and Wetherlam beyond.

Great How Crags, Swirl How, The Black Sails ridge and the Red Dell Valley from Coppermines.

Back in the valley the temperature had increased making it feel like a real Summers day and soon I was starting to overheat. With my car parked at Church Beck I choose to not de-layer and sweat it out. On the track below walkers make their way towards Coppermines Youth Hostel wjhile more are making their ascent on Wetherlam via the Lad Stones ridge. It feels surreal in a strange kind of way that it's so warm in September as if we're on borrowed time but days like today must be seized. I continued to follow the path flanked by bracken tinged with gold and brown leaves. A slight build up of cloud shades the Black Sails ridge but nothing more would come of it.

Crossing Miners Bridge I step around a group of Ghyll Scramblers ready to embark on a descent into Church Beck. On the other side of the beck I begin my descent down the track and in doing so pass an elderly couple where a 'hello' was exchanged. Going off how many people I'd seen during the last hour I expected to find mayhem alongside Church Beck where I'd left my car but it was exactly the opposite, there was even spaces to park your car and whilst kitting down just like this morning, the only thing I could hear was the gurgle of Church Beck flowing just beyond the stone wall.


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