Last updated
Wetherlam on the left, seen from Lingmoor Fell
Highest point
Elevation 763 m (2502 ft) [1]
Prominence c. 145 m
Parent peak Coniston Old Man
Listing Wainwright, Hewitt, Nuttall [1]
Location Cumbria, England
Parent range Lake District, Southern Fells
OS grid NY288011
Topo map OS Landranger 89, 90, Explorer OL6
Listed summits of Wetherlam
NameGrid refHeightStatus
Black Sails NY282007 745 m (2,444 ft)Hewitt, Nuttall

Wetherlam (763 m) is a mountain in the English Lake District. It is the most northerly of the Coniston Fells, the range of fells to the north-west of Coniston village; its north-east slopes descend to Little Langdale.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Lake District mountainous region in North West England

The Lake District, also known as the Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in North West England. A popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes, forests and mountains, and its associations with William Wordsworth and other Lake Poets and also with Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin. The National Park was established in 1951 and covers an area of 2,362 square kilometres. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.

Fell high and barren landscape feature

A fell is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain range or moor-covered hills. The term is most often employed in Fennoscandia, the Isle of Man, parts of Northern England, and Scotland.



Wetherlam stands apart from the main north-south spine of the Coniston Fells, the connection being via the long east ridge of Swirl How. Midway along this ridge is Black Sails, an intermediate top usually considered to be part of Wetherlam, [2] [3] and listed as a Hewitt in its own right.

Swirl How mountain in United Kingdom

Swirl How is a fell in the English Lake District. It stands between Coniston and the Duddon Valley in the southern part of the District.

From Swirl How the east ridge drops steeply down Prison Band to Swirl Hawse, before rising again to the summit of Black Sails. Black Sails has a descending southern spur which steps down over High and Low Wether Crags. Between this and the main Coniston range is the valley of Swirl Hawse Beck and Levers Water. This tarn has been raised by damming to a depth of 125 ft, originally to supply water to the Coniston Copper Mines. Following the decline of mining a water treatment plant was built, and since the 1970s the tarn has supplied drinking water for Coniston and other local villages as far east as Sawrey. [4]

Levers Water lake in Cumbria, England

Levers Water is a small lake in the English Lake District. It is located at the head of the Coppermines Valley, above Coniston village. To its south-west is Raven Tor, a spur of Brim Fell, and to its north-west are Little How Crags and Great How Crags, on the eastern side of the north-south ridge leading to Swirl How.

Tarn (lake) Mountain lake or pool in a glacial cirque

A tarn is a mountain lake, pond or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. A moraine may form a natural dam below a tarn.

The main ridge continues east from Black Sails across the depression of Red Dell Head to the summit of Wetherlam. A second southward spur, paralleling that from Black Sails, descends from the main summit. This is Lad Stones ridge and the valley contained between the two is Red Dell.

Wetherlam has a further ridge which descends steeply north eastward along Wetherlam Edge. This leads via Birk Fell to an attractive upland plateau between Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale. Many rocky knolls characterise the area, the most prominent being Blake Rigg and Great Intake. To the south east of Wetherlam is a further upland area, named Yewdale Fells on Ordnance Survey maps. This displays less bare rock, but is fringed by a wall of crag above the Coniston - Ambleside road.

Ordnance Survey organisation that creates maps of Great Britain

Ordnance Survey (OS) is the national mapping agency of the United Kingdom which covers the island of Great Britain. Since 1 April 2015 part of Ordnance Survey has operated as Ordnance Survey Ltd, a government-owned company, 100% in public ownership. The Ordnance Survey Board remains accountable to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It is also a member of the Public Data Group.

Coniston, Cumbria village in the United Kingdom

Coniston is a village and civil parish in the Furness region of Cumbria, England. Historically part of Lancashire, it is located in the southern part of the Lake District National Park, between Coniston Water, the third longest lake in the Lake District and Coniston Old Man; about 25 miles (40 km) north east of Barrow-in-Furness.

Ambleside town in Cumbria, England

Ambleside is a town in Cumbria, in North West England. Historically in Westmorland, it is situated at the head of Windermere, England's largest natural lake. The town is within the Lake District National Park.

To the north of Wetherlam is the Greenburn Valley, a feeder of Little Langdale. A steep sided, rather marshy valley, Greenburn's waters join the River Brathay at Little Langdale Tarn. Greenburn itself bears a tarn, or more correctly the remains of a reservoir. A natural waterbody was dammed in the early 18th century to provide water for the Greenburn Mine. The 250 yard long barrage has now been breached to leave a collection of pools and bogs. [4] Greenburn is bounded to the north by the curve of Wet Side Edge, falling from Great Carrs.

Great Carrs mountain in United Kingdom

Great Carrs is a fell in the English Lake District. It stands above Wrynose Pass in the southern part of the District.


The summit is a gentle dome with a cairn marking the highest point. The vista is wide with the majority of the Southern, Central and Eastern Fells in view. Little Langdale is perhaps the finest aspect. [3]

Cairn man-made pile of stones or burial monument

A cairn is a man-made pile of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn[ˈkʰaːrˠn̪ˠ].

Southern Fells group of hills in the English Lake District

The Southern Fells are a group of hills in the English Lake District. Including Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England, they occupy a broad area to the south of Great Langdale, Borrowdale and Wasdale. High and rocky towards the centre of the Lake District, the Southern Fells progressively take on a moorland character toward the south west. In the south east are the well known Furness Fells, their heavily quarried flanks rising above Coniston Water.

The Central Fells are a group of hills in the English Lake District. Reaching their highest point at High Raise, they occupy a broad area to the east of Borrowdale. Perhaps unexpectedly the Central Fells are generally lower than the surrounding hills, the Lake District's general dome-like structure having a slight dip in the middle. The range extends from the boggy ridge between Derwentwater and Thirlmere in the north, to the famous rock peaks of the Langdale Pikes in the south.


In the past Wetherlam was extensively exploited for its mineral resources. The slopes on all sides are pitted with disused copper mines and slate quarries, making it the most industrialised of the Lake District fells. [3] The workings are on a small scale, however, and, according to Alfred Wainwright, unobtrusive: "this fine hill... is too vast and sturdy to be disfigured and weakened by man's feeble scratchings of its surface". [3]

The principal copper mining areas were to the south of Wetherlam, in what is now Coppermines Valley. Much of the activity took place on the slopes of Brim Fell to the south, but Red Dell and the ridges on either side hold many shafts, and there are workings below the bed of Levers Water. These mines were at their most productive in the 1850s, closing in 1915. Some prospecting was carried out in 1954, but the degree of collapse was too severe for reopening. Copper Pyrite was the main product, but iron, lead, nickel and cobalt were also won.

To the east of the fell was Tilberthwaite Mine, with many shafts around the gill and up the slopes of Birk Fell. This was also worked for copper, operations ceasing in 1942.

The mines in Greenburn served by the reservoir there were also known as New Coniston Mine. Copper was won from 1845 until the mine was substantially abandoned in 1865, the shafts reaching a depth of 700 ft below ground. [5]

There are major slate quarries at Tilberthwaite and further workings on the Yewdale Fells and Lad Stones ridge.


There are three natural starting points for an ascent of Wetherlam: [3] the village of Coniston to the south, and the valleys of Tilberthwaite to the east and Little Langdale to the north-east.

From Coniston a path and an unsurfaced road lead into the Coppermines Valley, the site of a number of disused mines; this is also the start of a popular path up the Old Man of Coniston. There are two possible routes to Wetherlam's summit from the Coppermines: either up the south ridge, called Lad Stones, or up the Red Dell valley to the west of the ridge.

Walkers approaching from Little Langdale or Tilberthwaite can take any of a number of paths to Birk Fell Hawse, a small col to the north-east of the summit at the foot of the ridge of Wetherlam Edge. It is then a steep ascent (around 200 metres in half a kilometre) up the latter ridge to reach the summit.

Wetherlam is often climbed as part of the "Coniston Round", a circuit of the skyline of the Coppermines Valley that takes in Swirl How, Brim Fell, the Old Man of Coniston and optionally Dow Crag.

Related Research Articles

Old Man of Coniston fell in the Furness Fells in the English Lake District

The Old Man of Coniston is a fell in the Furness Fells in the English Lake District. It is 2,634 feet (803 m) high, and lies to the west of the village of Coniston and the lake, Coniston Water. The fell is sometimes known by the alternative name of Coniston Old Man, or simply The Old Man. The mountain is popular with tourists and fell-walkers with a number of well-marked paths to the summit. The mountain has also seen extensive slate mining activity for eight hundred years and the remains of abandoned mines and spoil tips are a significant feature of the north-east slopes. There are also several flocks of sheep that are grazed on the mountain.

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Dale Head mountain in United Kingdom

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Holme Fell mountain in United Kingdom

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Pike of Blisco mountain in United Kingdom

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Sergeant Man mountain in United Kingdom

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Dow Crag mountain in United Kingdom

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Steel Fell mountain in United Kingdom

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Grey Friar mountain in United Kingdom

Grey Friar is a fell in the English Lake District, it is one of the Coniston Fells and is situated 13 kilometres west-south-west of Ambleside. It reaches a height of 770 metres and stands to the north west of the other Coniston Fells, a little off the beaten track and tends to be the least visited of the group. It is quite a large fell and forms the eastern wall of the Duddon Valley for several kilometres, in fact all drainage from Grey Friar goes to the Duddon Valley and not to Coniston Water.

Mardale Ill Bell mountain in United Kingdom

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Black Fell (Lake District) mountain in United Kingdom

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Brim Fell mountain in United Kingdom

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Little Langdale valley in the Lake District, England containing Little Langdale Tarn and a hamlet also called Little Langdale

Little Langdale is a valley in the Lake District, England containing Little Langdale Tarn and a hamlet also called Little Langdale. A second tarn, Blea Tarn, is in a hanging valley between Little Langdale and the larger Great Langdale to the north. Little Langdale is flanked on the south and southwest by Wetherlam and Swirl How, and to the north and northwest by Lingmoor Fell and Pike of Blisco. The valley descends to join with Great Langdale above Elter Water.


  1. 1 2 Database of British and Irish Hills. Accessed 12 February 2012.
  2. Richards, Mark: Southern Fells: Collins (2003): ISBN   0-00-711367-6
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Alfred Wainwright: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells , Book 4: ISBN   0-7112-2457-9
  4. 1 2 Blair, Don: Exploring Lakeland Tarns: Lakeland Manor Press (2003): ISBN   0-9543904-1-5
  5. Adams, John: Mines of the Lake District Fells: Dalesman (1995) ISBN   0-85206-931-6

Coordinates: 54°24′04″N3°05′53″W / 54.401°N 3.098°W / 54.401; -3.098