Picking dog friendly mountain isn't as easy as it sounds. There are plenty of things to consider; Is the dog (and owner) fit enough? Are there any tricky scrambles which might be easy for you, but not your four legged companion? Is it an easy descent, or is your dog likely to drag you headfirst down the mountainside? Taking all these in to consideration, the Old Man of Coniston seemed like a good option. Of course the dog was on the flexi-lead given the general hazards of the mountain crags, sheep and numerous mine workings from years gone by.
Our route started in Coniston itself and led up the incredibly steep road towards Walna Scar. Reaching the fellside car park, after a climb of 20 minutes or so, the dog trotted smugly past watching picnickers before we branched right on a gentle path round the base of the crags, towards the copper-mines valley. Eventually our respite ended and we began the steep climb on wide slate paths through the old quarry workings. Rusting cables crossing the path provided some initial interest for the dog before he caught scent of several dogs which we could see dragging their owners up the mountainside above us.
After an hour or so we rested for lunch above Low Water. The dog clearly wasn't tired, attempting to play with every passing four legged friend, before diving into the rucksack to steal (unsuccessfully) a ham and mustard sandwich. Biscuits were though on offer and after wolfing down his food the dog decided it was time to continue our climb.
We soon reached the summit cairn, and I realised that his enthusiasm was probably due to the 20 or so walkers munching through their lunches, so we continued quickly to descend down the track to Goats Water where the dog was able to have a cool swim in its crystal clear waters before reaching the Walna Scar Road and returning to our start.
This is a good walk for fit dogs and owners. Of course keep your dog under close control, particularly given the numerous quarry and mine workings in the area, but the paths are good and should not present any problems. Goats Water provides a good spot for a doggy paddle!
Click here for Google map
Cick here for MRC safety advice for users of mountains and fells and a link to the Met Office Mountain Weather Forecasts
Doggy rating 6/10 (a mountain walk rather than a dog walk!)