The Hougun Manor estate’s 90 acres are set on the west shore of Coniston Water, close to the hamlet of Sunnybank. This means that it’s a perfect location for walks to The Old Man of Coniston, one of the most popular walks in the Lake District.
Walking The Old Man of Coniston can be a gentle stroll or a real ramble, depending on weather, time of year and your own inclinations. The simplest ramble of all is to start at the edge of Coniston Water itself. You’re only going to experience The Cumbria Way for a short distance, but it’s worth noting that this footpath actually travels more than 75 miles, passing through Coniston and Keswick. Most of its length is inside the Lake District National Park and it links Ulverstone and Carlisle. On this part of the ramble you’re quite likely to come across ‘serious’ walkers who are traversing the entire length of The Cumbria Way, often staying in youth hostels along the way.
From The Cumbria Way, the route to the foot of The Old Man of Coniston is clearly marked. It’s worth checking out the path you take as they vary considerably in length and steepness.
The Old Man is a fell, which strictly speaking is not a hill! Fell actually means an area of uncultivated high ground, generally used by local farmers to graze sheep - this is why one breed of local sheep are called Roughfell, meaning they are bred to graze on hilly common land.
It’s a popular walk and you’ll find several well-marked and well-trodden paths that will take you to the summit of The Old Man of Coniston. You’re also quite likely to find those hardy local sheep drifting across your path, so if you own a dog, be aware they should be under your control at all times. It’s a good idea to keep dogs on a lead (and small children close by) as the fell is also dotted with old slate mine workings. These abandoned mines are usually easy to spot and on the north-east slopes the spoil heaps from the mines, some of which are eight centuries old, have their own ecosystem. Even so, visibility can change quickly on the Fell and staying close to the path is a good idea if you’re not completely sure where the mine-shafts are.The view from the top of The Old Man of Coniston is stunning when the weather is good, allowing you to survey Coniston Water, Lake Windermere, Grange over Sands all the way round to the Irish Sea and the controversial Sellafield Power Station. It is a bit of a scramble to make the very summit, but well within the reach of the average walker and even small children don’t find this too demanding a trek.