Distance: approximately seven miles. This includes a steep ascent
Time: A full winter's day (5-6 hours)
Pick a bright day, and winter can be a wonderful time to climb the Old Man of Coniston. There is likely to be snow at the top, so take your walking poles and crampons. You'll also need your OS map (OL6), extra layers, a torch and a picnic.
From Coniston Village, walk with the church on your left and take a right up the narrow road towards the Sun Inn. Continue along up the hill to join Walna Scar Road, which is a broad track. When you reach the little carpark, head right up the path known as Big Hill to begin your ascent of the Old Man. The path becomes gradually steeper until you eventually come to a sharp left turn.
Here you'll reach a level where there are ruined buildings from the old slate works and copper mines. The rusty cables, cogs and tracks give the Old Man an interesting industrial character. This level is a good place to stop for a snack and to explore the ruins.
Continue along, climbing over the old tramway cables that are strewn across the path. There's an intact mining tunnel here that's worth a look. Follow the path up and then bear right until Low Water comes into view. Head left and climb upwards enjoying the views back to Low Water.
On a clear day you can see for miles in every direction. Coniston Water lies to the south beyond Torver Village, where you might be able to spot the Church House Inn. The westerly view goes all the way out to the coast.
After a few more zig zags you'll reach the summit. The stone cairn makes for a great picnic shelter. Admire the snow capped peaks of Scafell range to the north as you eat your sandwiches.
When you're ready to descend, take the northern path along the ridge and head down towards the beautiful Goat Tarn with an imposing grey cliff face to your right.
Once round the tarn, the path takes you back down onto the Walna Scar Road. From here you can head east back along to Coniston or south down to Torver village for a well earned pint at the Church House Inn.