#explorefromthedoor with Sean Conway - #2 Escaping the Crowds, Coniston Valley.

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The Lake District is one of the best places to explore in England and has fuelled creative and exploring minds for centuries. Spending time in the mountains has huge benefits both physically and mentally. The one downside can be that some of the ‘famous’ routes and mountains can be slightly busy during certain times of the year which can take away from the whole reason you wanted to come up here in the first place. Don’t fear though, there is a simple solution to avoid the crowds, and it comes in the form of small green dotted lines – footpath, byways and bridleways.

If you look closely at any OS map you’ll actually be amazed at the number of these all over the Lake District. They’re everywhere. In fact within a 3-mile radius of my house I stopped counting at 30 miles worth of public rights of way, I guess it’s actually around the 50 mile mark. All within a few miles of my house. You can be sure that only a small proportion of these path are heavily used. Which means it’s easy to spend the day hiking without seeing anyone.

One of my favourite places to explore near my house and off the beaten track is up and around the Coppermine’s Valley. Starting from the village you walk up past Coniston Brewery (Do not stop for a pint, save it for your return) and up the road following Church Beck that eventually turns into a gravel track running up the valley. Half way up you get to a bridge on your left with a small waterfall and pool for a dip if you’re brave enough. You then reach the crest of a small hill and the road then opens out to the Coppermine’s valley.

Copper has been mined here for the past 500 years and it fuelled my imagination exploring all the shale mounds, old railway tracks and caves. Explore cave with caution obviously please, but explore them you can. In fact, for those of you more-hardy than I, you can even cave dive up here.

From here to keep off the beaten track cross the river and head up towards Levers Water on the footpath, not the gravel track. At Levers you have many options but two that excite me the most. You can veer west and up a steep much quieter route that eventually gets you to the top of Coniston Old Man, or if you’re feeling fit you can keep heading north which brings you out at Wrynose Pass, then you turn back round, take one of the many other paths back down to Coniston, this time stopping in any one of the pubs, sipping a Coniston Brewery Ale and letting your thoughts slowly meander.

The Coppermine’s Valley is my go-to place to walk, run, cycle (you can cycle up to Levers Water on the track) and swim if I want to get away from the main drag up Coniston Old Man, all without having to travel too far from home.

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