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A Greenburn Round From Tilberthwaite

Grade : S
Distance : 15¼Km (9¾ mi)
Height Climbed : 996 metres (3,263 feet)
Map : Explorer OL6
Stiles : 1
Summary : A great fine weather route for experienced fell walkers with splendid panoramic views, slate quarries and copper and lead mines.
Terrain : High fell and mountain walk with some easy scrambling finishing with a stroll along an old track. Navigation skills may be required on some sections and care with footing is needed on one steep grassed descent.
Start: Tilberthwaite Quarry car park    NGR: NY 3060 0100    Nearest Postcode: LA21 8DG (The cottages about 200 metres past the car park).
Access by car : From Ambleside take the A593 towards Coniston for about 6 miles to turn a very sharp right uphill towards Tilberthwaite and continue ahead for about 1 mile the car park is on your left immediately after a left hand bend before a bridge beware this road is largely single track with blind corners.
Access by public transport : none.


1   Grid ref : NY 3064 0098
From the car park head up these steps bearing right at the top, then follow the track ahead uphill between the slag heaps and past Pennyrigg Open Slate Quarry. In the early 1900's it was just one of many mines and quarries in the area, today however, its the focus of rock climbers rather than quarry men.

2   Grid ref : NY 3045 0078
At this junction you bear left uphill along the more prominent path.

3   Grid ref : NY 2990 0069
When you reach this junction continue ahead ignoring paths off right and left on a fairly continuous but gentle climb passing the entrance to an old copper mine on your left. It is just one of the old copper mines littering these fells and as you can see, it has now collapsed and looks more like a mini quarry than a mine entrance.

4   Grid ref : SD 2934 9911
About 1km (0.7miles) further on just before a left hand bend as the path starts to descend into the Copper Mines valley, look out for and take this path off to your right that heads up along the ridge. Now simply follow the path uphill; it is rather indistinct in places, but as long as you keep heading uphill in a northerly direction, you can't go too far wrong.

5   Grid ref : NY 2880 0111
When you reach this point you are on the summit of Wetherlam, with panoramic views all round if the weather's fine. It is the most northerly mountain of the Coniston Fells.

6   Grid ref : NY 2876 0112
Your next leg of the route takes you to the left of the summit to pick up this ridge path heading westwards towards Swirl How; your next summit that cloud level permitting, you will see rising up ahead of you. The path is a bit indistinct and confusing with other faint tracks to start with.

7   Grid ref : NY 2781 0076
At this path junction on the lowest point of this ridge you keep straight ahead. The path is not visible on some sections of your ascent, so just pick what you consider to be your safest route up, some basic scrambling is required in places.

8   Grid ref : NY 2727 0054
When you reach this cairn you are on the summit of Swirl How, the highest point on the route. The paths are a bit indistinct but you continue ahead a short distance...

9   Grid ref : NY 2720 0053
...before following the ridge to your right in the picture with the Greenburn valley below right. Look out for a cross topped cairn to your left.
The cairn is a memorial to a Halifax bomber crew that, according to reports, crashed into Great Carrs in 1944 while on a navigation exercise. Because of low level cloud, the pilot descended so the navigator could get a visual fix on the ground, but he dropped too low hitting the mountain.
As you continue along the ridge, keep to the top with the Greenburn Valley to your right.

10   Grid ref : NY 2866 0257
As you near the end of the ridge you veer off right here to head down into the Greenburn Valley, take care on the steeper grassed sections of the descent. The path peters out periodically, particularly on the boggy plateau, so aim towards the line of the dry stone wall that runs down the hillside on the other side of the valley.

11   Grid ref : NY 2948 0230
As you near the valley floor cross over a footbridge and follow this track left over the stile (the gate is normally locked).
The remains further up the track to your right are Greenburn Mine (also known as New Coniston Mine). It is regarded as being the best preserved copper mine in the Lake District, a status that has resulted in it being listed as a scheduled ancient monument. Believed to have started operating in the late 17th Century, it continued intermittently until 1940. The site includes the accommodation block, office and smithy.

12   Grid ref : NY 3057 0280
As you join another track from your left at this junction, bear right along it.

13   Grid ref : NY 3066 0278
After about 200 metres (660 feet) you come up level with Little Langdale Tarn to your left.
The tarn and about 0.3 km² (30 hectares) of the land around it are designated a SSSI because of the single-species dominant swamp, acid-poor fen, acidic species-rich marshy grassland, hay meadow and wet woodland habitats.
Your route goes right at this junction towards Tilberthwaite.

14   Grid ref : NY 3083 0140
Keep to the main track to this farmyard which you cross to follow the lane ahead on the other side back to the car park and the end of your walk.
The farm includes High Tilberthwaite cottage, part of an early 18th Century farmhouse that was once owned by Beatrix Potter

© 2016-2019 alan Windebank     last route check 19/04/2019
Last route check 19/04/2019