Coniston Old Man
Coniston Old Man illustrates text-book geology, and is steeped in history from the Stone Age. Its rich veins of copper ore were perhaps first exploited in the Bronze Age; several millennia later, those copper ores attracted expert German [or ‘Dutch’, from Deutsch] miners in a path-finding European trade consortium, The Company of the Mines Royal, in Good Queen Bess’s reign. Some 400 years on, their German patronyms still survive in the parish. Coniston’s ores copper-bottomed the fleet. Coniston’s slate quarries have roofed the world. And Coniston’s becks have tumbled the tons and tons of ‘cobbles’ and boulders used to build mile upon mile of dry-stone walls.
The Coniston fells are sheep country, home to the native Herdwicks, famed for their ‘coat so grey’ and their royal Coronation mutton. Their ancestors have walked the fells for over a thousand years. This breed, with smiling white faces, was loved by Beatrix Potter, who safeguarded the future of many fell farms by leaving them to the care of The National Trust.
Dow Crags was the birthplace of free [rope-less] rock climbing; its early climbers founded the Fell and Rock Climbing Club of the English Lake District, and its tragic accidents led to the formation of Coniston Fell Rescue Team in 1947.