EXPLORE the southern shore of Coniston then take a short hilly walk with spectacular views in an area that probably inspired Arthur Ransome when he wrote the book Swallowdale, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. This is a walk that provides high value in return for a moderate amount of effort. The name Blawith (pronounced 'blarth') comes from Old Norwegian, meaning the dark wood. In medieval times this area was forested and used for hunting. Later, trees were felled (largely for making charcoal) and the fells became the upland grazing land that we see today.

Start from the southern-most parking area at Fairholme Green, map reference SD 287 900, postcode LA12 8DL, which is on the A5084 at the south end of Coniston Water.


Distance: 3.5 miles with 800 feet of ascent

Time: 2 hours

Terrain: grassy fell paths, wet in parts.

Map: OS Explorer OL6


1 From the parking area follow the path along a boardwalk and beside a wall on the right. Go through a kissing gate on the right and follow the way-marked permitted path to Lake Bank Jetty. Lake Bank is the oldest site for a public jetty on the lake. In the 1860s one-day trips from Liverpool were brought here by rail, horse drawn trap and steamboat. Return to the kissing gate, turn right and follow the wall-side path. Turn right through a gap in the wall with a sign about canoe access. Despite two boardwalks the path may be under deep water. If so, retrace your steps to the A5084, turn right and walk carefully along the roadside for 400 yards. If the path is not flooded follow it to Blea Brows, a headland with great views of the lake. Perhaps the rocky outcrop was Pike Rock where Swallow was wrecked in Ransome’s Swallowdale. From the north side of the woods follow a faint path (boggy in parts) beside a fence on the right to the A5084. Turn right and after 200 yards (opposite Copper Beech Lodge) left onto a signed footpath.

2 Follow the path through woods and around the edge of the fells to meet a tarmacked farm lane. Turn left and walk up the lane for 700 yards to the edge of a field below a wood on the right. Turn left onto a grassy area beside a bend under power cables. Walk uphill and just after passing a pylon keep left, continuing uphill past a neat holly tree. Cross a beck and continue ascending to the left of a rise, across a beck, through a rocky gully and onwards to the summit of Beacon. This is the highest point of Blawith Fells. Despite the modest elevation of 836 feet there are amazing views of Walna Scar, Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man (Kanchenjunga in Ransome’s books) and the full length of Coniston.

3 Descend in the same direction and take a left branch down to Nutty Sheep Fold. Keep ahead, facing the valley, and walk towards a double row of power cables (while we dislike seeing power cables in this lovely countryside they can be very useful for finding our way around!). Descend to the first line of cables. Continue southwards to meet a path between the two rows of cables and turn left to go below the second line. Now head eastwards towards Coniston Water, with a lovely view of Park Nab and High Nibthwaite. Descend along the path to the A5084 at Fairholme Green, turn right then cross the road to the parking area where the walk began.

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.