Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023

We always plan for countryside walks or mountain climbs for our family holidays. Whilst in Scotland, we climbed Ben Lomond and when in Hereford we travelled to the Welsh border to climb the Cats Back. In the Lakes there are many fells to choose. Initially we thought of Scarfell Pike, but then chose the Old Man of Coniston due to its close proximity to our holiday home (Lowfield House, Little Langdale). This lakeland fell is an old favourite of mine and there are well marked climbing paths to the top. I have done the easier route twice that passes by Goat’s water. We decided to take the direct route that leaves Walna Scar car park taking walkers through Coppermines valley and past Low Water to the north of the mountain.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The early stages of the climb with Natasha and Rob. Lake Coniston is in the background.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The weather was poor at the start but the sun is breaking through.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Dramatic views start to appear as you ascend the mountain.

We set off in driving rain and were getting seriously wet when luckily the weather broke as we reached the Copper Mines. The industrial remnants of the slate quarries and copper mines are now a conversation area. The place is fascinating and lends itself to several photographic opportunities. There are large copper cables to climb over or duck under. The slate miners must have been very hardy workers. I found an article on what life must have been like living and working around Coniston. Whilst on a good day the views are impressive, I would not want to be here during inclement weather. The mines provided a great backdrop for photographs with the mountains in the background.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Tram tracks at the mine provide leading lines to the view.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Remains of old industrial equipment.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
More industrial remnants.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Pulleys used to put the trams
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
A welcome rest for Jim, Sian and Rob.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Slates with a view

Our next stop was the picturesque tarn of Low Water where we saw the cloud line that we would be entering as we continued the climb. The final push to the top was gruelling with the rocks wet and slippery. The path became indistinct in places.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Jim poses at Low water tarn.

Despite the misty conditions, we reached the top and had a selfie picture by the slate tarn. I brought all my big camera equipment except for the remote release button. The wind was strong and kept knocking the camera and travel tripod over. Luckily a fellow walker was at hand to steady the camera and push the button. Visibility was poor and we decided the best course of action was to go down the way we came up. We quickly came out of the cloud and the views over Lake Coniston appeared before us.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
We reached the summit. Congratulations.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Return to the mines on the way down.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
One of the climbers we met on the route down.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
Mines and slates.

We did the Old Man in 3 hours 15 minutes which we considered a good time for our climb. We drove down into Coniston. The place to rest and catch up with food and drink is the well known Sun pub. The Sun “above” Coniston, as it is also known, is both warm and welcoming with excellent food and beer. The inside bar area has lots of character including a fireplace were we were able to dry out in front of the fire. Then we settled down to talk about the climb, look at the pictures and enjoy a hearty meal. A visit to the Lakes is not complete without climbing one of the fells and reminiscing on your adventures in the pub.

Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The Sun above Coniston.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
The cosy interior of the Sun.
Climbing the Old Man of Coniston, Lake District, August 2023
A ploughman’s lunch washed down with the local beer.

Many thanks for the company of my fellow family climbers Natasha, Sian, Rob and Jim.

________

Links to the complete series of my blogs around our visit to Little Langdale in the Lake District in August 2023.

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Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Lapworth Museum

Northfield Community Garden

The 61 and 63 buses routes are ones I know well as I use them to visit the dental school at Pebble Mill. I don’t often stay on the bus but for the keys of the City Brum, I carried on and headed down to Northfield.   The final bus stop was only a short walk from the Northfield Community Garden.  There were large iron gates which were locked by the heavy but majestic Yale lock.  The gates had to be pushed open and then I entered.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
The gates to the garden with lock
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Welcome to the garden

There was a lovely welcome sign, and a garden-decorated tractor was also there to greet you.  The garden, next to a busy road, is a mixture of different influences.  My first thought is that the plants needed a good watering, but one could not overlook the enthusiasm that the gardeners have for the place.  There are several car tyres used to good effect providing places for the growing plants.  There were some welcome benches where one could sit down and take in the area.  In one way it was chaotic, but this was also its charm.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful display
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful tyres
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful chairs
Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Northfield Community Garden
Colourful Garden Shed

The garden sits next to the busy Longbridge bypass and there is a dull noise of traffic in the background.  Over time this noise recedes, and it is possible to relax, reflect and take in the surroundings.   I loved the garden shed which was a colourful metal container painted with several eye-catching designs.  Overall, a pleasant place to visit and wander around.

Lapworth Museum

I took the 61 bus back up the Bristol road and jumped off for the University.  This #keyofthecitybrum was home territory for me as my visit was to the Lapworth Museum which is part of the University of Birmingham.  The museum has won several local awards and been nominated for national awards.  Geology is the theme, and this is highlighted by the magnificent Rock Wall which reaches up to the ceiling.  The display cabinets have many drawers to pull out, with each one revealing different parts of the collection The large number of windows make the museum a delight to photograph and the afternoon light streaming through is a feature of the place.  

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Lapworth Museum
Lovely designs

But the centrepiece is a large dinosaur which is centre piece to the main museum room.  Rory the Allosaurus is a commanding skeleton, and he is also the key to finding the lock as described in the instructions.  Finding the lock could have been a challenge but I was ready for something hidden having already been to Acocks Green Cemetery.  I found the lock in the cabinets opposite to Rory and inside there was a fascinating display of various rocks and fossils.  The colours from the rocks is shown in the pictures. This treasure hunt for the key was rewarded with a lovely display.  Very well done.

Key to the City Brum, Fierce Festival, 2022, Lapworth Museum
Rory shows the way

My Journey with the Key
If you wish to review my journey then I have published all my visits on my blog as follows.