Old Man of Coniston, Lake District

2017 was a year with a tremendous high, getting married in one of Preston’s most beautiful parks, and a few incredible lows, burying my father, a very close family friend and my uncle. We were keen to see the back of what had been a tricky, emotional year to navigate. What better way to end the year than with a bracing walk in the Lakes.

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After a quiet Christmas Day we headed out to walk one of my husband’s favourite walks, The Old Man of Coniston. We headed out on a bright day and set off without maps or directions, just my husband’s fuzzy memory of walks with his dad some 15 years before.

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We followed a concrete road that headed up past rushing waterfalls, then as the clouds drew in carried on up and up until we were stood aloft, overlooking the village. After a drink and sandwich stop we marched on, catching sight of a hardy pack of sodden, muddy trail bikers. Good men!

Snow sat atop the hills and mountains. We followed a rugged path along to the remains of a crumbling slate building, Red Dell mining works.

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We walked on, across boggy paths and tumbling rivers and streams; great to hear my son put his recently learned knowledge of the course of a river into context describing the different courses as we passed.

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As we ascended we became more isolated, aside from a scattering of sheep it was just us and the elements. We pressed on until we felt it was time to head back, the cold was setting in, numbing our digits and sodden feet.

Before we left we took a drink of fresh mountain water and descended, as we did fog drew in behind us. Luckily we had started to head back down before the we had lost sight of the path.

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Back down in the village we enjoyed a warm drink and spoke to a man who had cycled 15 miles from Barrow to Coniston and, like us, had started the ascent before bad weather drew in. He cheerfully told us tales of walking in the Lakes and wild camping in the Highlands of Scotland. He was a happy, brave soul who took is push bike over to Ireland, cycled around the north and west coast, stopping off along the way to wild camp. It sounded wonderful!

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