Length 7 Kilometres | Highest point 762 metres
Wetherlam 762m, 2499ft, GR 288011
Wetherlam is well separated from the rest of the Coniston Fells and is an attractive mountain with several interesting lines of ascent. It is also particularly rich in disused mines and quarries. Some of the copper mines are at least 400 years old and well worth exploring on the surface. A guide book can be purchased locally. Many of these workings are very deep, the support timbers are rotted and they can be extremely dangerous to enter.
This walk is short in distance, but quite challenging. There is a large car park at Low Tilberthwaite. Leave this by the steps at the rear and walk up the track through disused slate quarries. Take the right fork down to the Gill and cross the footbridge. Climb out of the gorge and over a stile to meet the old miners’ track. Turn left and follow this along the rim of the gorge. Where the ravine ends, fork left over a footbridge. Upstream are the reddish spoil heaps of Tilberthwaite Mine. Ahead, a ridge called Steel Edge is the route of ascent.
A deep cleft cuts into the rock where a vein of rock was once excavated: climb up beside this onto Steel Edge. The path on the crest is grassy at first, but the upper section is steep. The rock is ideal for scrambling and easier underfoot than the loose, stony path. About half an hour from the mines, Steel Edge joins the south ridge of Wetherlam at a small tarn. Follow the well-trodden footpath for 1km to the summit cairn (3km, 612m, 1hr 45min). From the top there are good views north to Little Langdale and Blea Tarn, and south-east over the whole South Lakes region to the Pennines.
Descend by the steep path down Wetherlam Edge. In mist it is important to find the track (30 degrees E of N) as there are crags to the N and E. After about 1km, the ground flattens at Birk Fell Hawse. The popular path forks right and down, but it is easier on the feet and knees not to be tempted by the pull of gravity but to keep ahead over Birk Fell, descending comfortably on grass through some old larch trees to Hellen’s Mine. The mine track forms a beautifully constructed route back to the valley, past Tilberthwaite Mine. In descent, keep above the gorge to Low Tilberthwaite Farm. Note the spinning gallery outside the first floor of the farmhouse (7km, 2hr 45min).