Coming up for air: a walk up the Old Man of Coniston

Why hi! Hello there! It’s been awhile!

It’s hard to believe but just over a week ago, I sent off my Ph.D. dissertation! It felt so odd and exhilarating to press the send button and be faced with ten glorious days of limbo before I fly to the US for a conference and then my formal Ph.D. defense, which will be the official conclusion of my seven years (!) in graduate school.

As a little surprise, Mr. N took me away for a few days last week to the South Lakes where we could enjoy a bit of a break and the last days of summer in the Northwest.  We fit a lot into three days, but one of my favorite bits was hiking up the Old Man of Coniston, which is a large fell on the west side of Coniston Water.  It dominates the landscape, and we had beautiful views from the spot we were married, which is on the east side of Coniston Water.  We’ve both wanted to go up it ever since.

We started our walk nearly at midday, and it was a bit overcast … but it felt great to just be out.  We realized almost immediately that we had gone wrong (a common occurrence for us when walking)

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But it just meant a little detour through some lovely fields …. and the chance to hide in some bracken:

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Spot the knitter

I love walking in the Lake District, and especially enjoy the colors and textures.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of examining the dry stone walls:

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Or contemplating the hues and patterns of lichen on rocks:

You can just spot Coniston Water in the distance

We soon got ourselves heading in the right direction.  The grey day made for some dramatic landscapes:


The walk up the Old Man is quite steep in places.  It was great to see lots of families with young children tackling the challenge (such little legs zipping up!). And, as usual, I stood in admiration of the hill sheep who tenaciously make their life on the fells.  Even in the most barren looking and remote parts of the fells, you’d squint and spot a lone sheep grazing.  I loved this one up on the crest of the hill (you can just barely make her out)

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New life motto: be more hill sheep 

Quarrying took place on the Old Man for centuries, and the remains of it are still very evident:


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We stopped for lunch, tea, and a check of the map at the rather misleadingly named Low Water, a tarn (a local word for a large pond or small lake, especially in the mountains) which is quite close to the top of the Old Man.  The sun even peeped out!

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Oh to be those campers!
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We’ve finally started bringing maps on walks (I’m a little embarrassed to say we hadn’t been before!) 
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Low Tarn from above

With our bellies full, we were ready for the final ascent.

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As we reached the top, there were stunning views of Coniston Water

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As well as grazing sheep!

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I won’t lie, by the time we reached the top, I was out of breath — it was steep and the rocks underneath quite slippy!  It felt good to see the trig point!

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We stopped for another tea, and I even snuck in a few rows

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There was more map consulting to do:

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And then we started down on a different path , which took us past plenty of sheep.  I usually think of sheep as sticking out in the landscape, but some of these blended it … almost like they were camouflaged.  I wondered what breed this one was:

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Then spotted a Herdwick ewe and lamb:

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Our walk down took us past another tarn, called Goat Water … did goats used to gather there?

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And past plenty more sheep … more Herdwicks than I have ever seen!  I love their sweet faces.

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(This is one we saw at the beginning of the walk!)

A lovely walk, but we were certainly tired by the end … it was lovely to drive home that evening and have a quiet night in!

Hope you’ve been enjoying the last few days of summer.  I’m traveling for the next few weeks, but hoping that I’ll pop in here with a few posts I’ve been meaning to share — we’ll see!  Until then, happy knitting!

xo K








4 thoughts on “Coming up for air: a walk up the Old Man of Coniston”

  1. Oh wow! What beautiful views! I lol’d at the spot the knitter pic 😀 And smart idea on bringing actual maps. I’m sure Google maps does not work in the hills like that…or do they? Congrats on getting your dissertation out and I wish you tons of luck on defending it too!


  2. I like how they stacked the stones on top of one another. What a great view and a heart-pumpin’ walk. Are you nervous about your PhD defense? Do you already have an idea of what they’ll say or ask against it? Will your husband be able to be in the room with you? Do they let you video it too?


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