Uphill during the Beast from the East

Coniston, Lake District

In just a few short weeks Fran and I will embark on a massive trip around the world. One of the destinations that we’re both very much looking forward to is our 3 week hike in the Himalays.

A hike at these altitudes and temperatures requires some preperation and new clothing, and we thought to take a little break to the Lake District to put our new gear to the test. Helpfully for our experiment the Beast from the East suddenly appeared, meaning much lower temperatures and a lot more snow and wind than usual. In effect, this made our test a lot more realistic, and we were secretly quite looking forward to it!

The main objective of our trip was to complete the Old Man of Coniston trail, a 5-6 hour hike. On Sunday 25 February we arrived at Coniston and, after having  had a look at the latest weather forecast we decided to start the following day.

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The area is rich in copper and slate and has been a site of active mining since the 1500s. Along the trail we came across plenty of old mining gear, derelict buildings and even an abandoned mine or two. It was quite strange to see the small mines, and hard to imagine someone going in there 6 or 7 days a week to haul up some rock. We later learned that mining is no longer economically viable here, but that some will go as deep as 500 meters.

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After a hearty traditional English breakfast we set off in bright sunshine, starting the first section of the hike, a 500m ascent in just 3k to the summit of the Old Man. Winter was still around and getting uphill in the snow was a bit of a challenge, but by zig-zagging to avoid the snowy patches we made it up.

After the Old Man we followed the snowy and windy ridge to Brim Fell, Great How Crags and Swirl How. The directions we had were a bit vague, and without signage it was a bit of a challenge to find out where the actual peaks were, but in the end we made it back to the village where we treated ourselves on a well-deserved pint in front of the old stove.

 

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