BB1009: Almost a Mountaineer!

Wednesday 3rd March 2010

I knew the answer would be Coniston Old Man.  Bryan had been going on for what seems like ages about how great it was looking in the long, snowy winter we have been enjoying. Also, he had an ulterior motive.  He is off to Switzerland in a few weeks time to climb a few 4,000 metre peaks and was in urgent need of some Alpine training.  And thatís exactly what we got.

We dug deep in the Coniston car park.

Not because of the snow but into pockets to fund the £6.50 for the car park.  Donít they want to encourage winter visitors?

We were not the only ones digging.  Like everywhere else these day, Conistonís roads were being dug up.  Bryan reckons it is the government pouring money into public works to stimulate the economy.  

I am not convinced.  In Kendal, at least, I reckon it is a council that has found itself with budgets larger than they need in order to do the useful things.

The Old Man peeps down on Coniston

But rather than return the money to those who finance them, they cause havoc to the economy of the town in order to achieve what?  A pavement a little bit wider than it was before.  

Guess who was held up for ages on his way round to pick Bryan up today?  Rant over!!

The young men of Coniston.....

..... 1973 style

We approached the Old Man by the so called Tourist Route which goes up through the old quarries.  I havenít been up that way since about 1973 but have been down it in recent times (BB0619 Old Man Succumbs!) and seen many folk struggling up what seemed a steep and arduous path.

Approaching the old mine workings

Abandoned miners' buildings

Actually, it is not a problem until you reach Low Water and then it really starts to climb. Today, it became doubly interesting from that point as it was where the winter conditions really started so we needed to don the crampons.

Bryan had opted for his winter boots which take his vicious full sized crampons in order to obtain proper Alpine practice.

However, he had persuaded me that I would not need my full winter boots and evil weapons; I should be perfectly alright with my ordinary boots and microspikes.

Bryan's vicious crampons

Snowed-up Low Water

All was well to start with but then, as the trail zigged off to the left, Bryan decided that it was time to go direttissimo.  I must confess that I was worried.  It was steep and completely covered with a good depth of snow.  However, even though it was a longer climb than either of us expected before we regained the trail, it was firm underfoot, the microspikes worked well and the ice axe gave the added reassurance that if the worst should happen, there would be a fighting chance of living to tell the tale.  In reality, nothing adverse did happen.

Don half way up the direttissimo, Low Water below

Bryan at the top of the direttissimo

It was milder than predicted at the summit, a strong wind had been forecast with nasty wind chill effect but, although it was not weather for lingering, it was good enough to have a proper look at the views and take team photos.

Coniston Water

Comitibus: Old Man of Coniston, with Scafells behind and Swirl How to the right

We headed off along the ridge.  Bryan suddenly darted downhill to a clump of rocks above a sharp drop down Scarth Brow.  At first I wondered what he was doing.  However, when he started kicking snow around, I realised he was preparing our lunch stop, out of the breeze.  It was an excellent vantage point looking down over Seathwaite Tarn with the Scafells clearly in view and in deep snow on the summits.  

Where is he going????

Preparing the picnic site, Seathwaite Tarn behind

After lunch, we decided to continue along the ridge as far as Swirl How where we would assess how best to return.  The going was a little icy along here at times but well within the capability of the Microspikes.

Looking back to the Old Man, Dow Crag to the right

The volume of footprints suggested that the path down Prison Band might not be too problematical and that proved to be the case- there was just one short step where full crampons might have been preferred but, otherwise, it was fine.

Descending Prison Band

High above Levers Water

The path down to Levers Water was easy and on reaching the lake we took second lunch and removed the crampons.

Levers Water, looking south

At the far end of the lake was a school party from Preston enjoying a field trip, sketching the scenery and answering questions from the teacher about how what forces had led it to look like that.

Levers Water, looking North West.  School party to the right

Further down, we fell in with a man from Dalton in Furness.  He only had Grivel Spiders so had wisely decided to go round the lake rather than up the hill.  Spiders would not have coped with the steep ground.  I asked him what Dalton was like as a place to live. He said it was a nice large village apart from the roadworks.

Itís the current British disease.

Almost a mountaineer!

I think Bryan was quite pleased with his Alpine training.  It had been a good work-out and three hours in crampons was a much longer session than even he had anticipated.

He paid me what I think was meant to be a nice compliment; he said that today, I had almost been a mountaineer!  

Indeed, it had been good fun in the snow. But Margaret neednít worry- I have no plans to be tackling the 4,000 metre Alpine monsters.  I couldnít be doing with the 3 a.m. starts for one thing!

 Don, 3rd March 2010


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3rd March 2010


8.0 miles

Height climbed:

3,072 feet

Wainwrights :

The Old Man Of Coniston, Swirl How


Bryan, Don

If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1009.

Steve G advises: "For those who like to look at your meanderings but use Tracklogs or other software then your logs can be converted using the freeware utility GPS Babel."

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


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BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January 

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February

BB1008 :
In Memory Of
Thomas Williamson
Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Thursday 25th March

BB1013 :
The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April




BSB2010 :
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February





Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys click on Wainwrights

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!