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Being both lucky enough to live only a few miles from Coniston and outdoor enthusiasts we spend a lot of time in and around Coniston doing one of the three things we love best; walking, cycling and canoeing. And I can honestly say that, for me, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world!
Coniston village itself is a lovely little place to walk around, but don't go there if you're all about the shopping! Whilst there are some nice little shops to have a mooch around, the focus here definitely isn't retail therapy. What you will find, however, is lovely little cafes and traditional pubs to get a decent meal and a pint.
Much more appealing to us, though, is the surrounding area. If you like the outdoors you really are spoilt for choice here with walks and cycling routes galore. There is a great one from the carpark opposite the land rover garage just outside town, which takes iin felltops with fantastic views, then drops down to finish along the lake edge...just beautiful.
One of the most popular walks in this area is the climb to the top of Coniston Old Man (or The Old Man of Coniston, to some people). It's not an easy climb, but nor is it out of the capability of most able-bodied people and when you get to the top you're rewarded with spectacular panoramic views and a huge sense of achievement that you've climbed a Lake District mountain!
My absolute favourite thing to do in Coniston, however, is to go canoeing around the beautiful lake. On a sunny day, there is nothing better than taking in the peace and quiet of the stunning surroundings and making your way to Peel Island (better known as Wild Cat Island in Swallows and Amazons) and climbing up onto it to enjoy a picnic lunch.
If you're after peace, tranquility and absolutely amazing scenery, you can't beat Coniston...and every time I stand on the shore and look up the lake I have to pinch myself and remind myself how lucky I am to live here.
Coniston is situated the south west of Cumbria and due to that it's often overlooked by a lot of visitors. Most visitors to the Lake District will go to Windermere, Ambleside, Keswick or Grasmere and that is a shame as Coniston has a lot to offer.
I have stayed in Coniston many times over the last 20 years and always get a warm welcome.
Coniston grew up around copper mining and in later year's slate. Slate mining still goes on in the area and you can by gifts made out of the slate in the local shops. There are a few mountains around Coniston and the most famous is Coniston Old Man and is 2634 feet high. It gets its name from the big cairn on the summit. Man is another name for cairn and years ago people called it the Old Cairn of Coniston. Other mountains in the area are Dow Crag, Swirl How, Brim Fell and Wetherlam.
There are many low level walks you can do if your not feeling energetic and don't fancy walking to the summit of the Old Man
The lake is Coniston Water and it is the third largest lake in the Lake District and is five miles long and half a mile at its widest. The maximum depth is 184 feet. The lake used to be called Thurston Water until late in the 18th century
In the 60's Coniston became famous as it was chosen by Donald Campbell as the location for his water speed record attempt but on January 4th 1967 he was killed when he lost control of his boat Bluebird K7 when it took off somersaulted and crashed. His body was not recovered until 2001 and he was buried in Coniston. They also raised Bluebird K7 from its watery grave and now they are trying to restore it and display it in Coniston. They even say it may be ok to race on the lake again.
Coniston is also the fictional location for the book Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransom and Peel Island on the lake is called Wild Cat Island in the books and film
John Ruskin the philosopher and artist owned Brantwood House on the east shore of the lake and there is a museum about him in the village.
There are many places to stay in Coniston from B&B to cottages. If you're in the mood for food and drink then you will not be unhappy as there are many fine places.
Here is a list of the pubs in Coniston
The Black Bull
The Sun Hotel
The Crown Hotel
The Ship Inn
There are two youth hostels in Coniston. There is a campsite (Coniston Hall) just outside of the village plus next to that there is a caravan site (Park Coppice). Both are 10-15 mins walk to the centre of the village.
There is a CoOp and general food store plus newsagent and gift shop.
The people of Coniston are warm and friendly and don't mind visitors to their wonderful village.
Having just come back from a week in the lake district, I am feeling especially inspired, (And qualified) to talk about the place. Where is it? Coniston is in the Lake District, in Cumbria - an area of outstanding natural beauty. It's not far from Windemere and is easy enough to get to by car. There is no train station, and buses are less than ideal, although viable. It's less touristy than Windemere and Ambleside and a lot nicer, I think. Accomodation: There is an excellent Lakeside campsite, numerous small hotels and B&B. There are self catering places you can rent - the Coppermines will house between 2 and 30 people as required. I've not had to pay for accomodation (friends in the area) so I can't advise about cost, obviously off peak is a lot cheaper than at the height of summer. Things to do: Walking - the Old Man of Coniston is an excellent climb for anyone in a reasonable state of fitness and posessed of walking boots. Arduous though. Take plenty of drinks and Kendal mint cake. For those less athletic, I would recomend a trip to Tarn Hows - national trust owned, wheelchair friendly and stuningly beautiful, this small lake up in the hills is delightful, takes an hour to walk around, lots of geese to see and the like. There are lovely walks along the Coniston lakeside or up onto the fells overlooking the lake. If you want to venture further afield, its easy enough to drive to other good walking locations - from gentle lakeside walks at places like Grasmere, to adventureous mountain stuff. The best thing to do is invest in ordinance survey maps - four will cover the entire area of the lake district. (Sadly Coniston is on the edge of one, so you really need the two that contain the lake.) On the water: There are launches that do trips around the lake - an excellent way to see the water, and Peel Island (Also known as Wildcat island in the Swallows and Amazons books). Costs about five pounds for an adult
, lasts nearly two hours, gives a discount for other places you might want to visit. Alternatively, you can hire boats if you want to head out on your own. There are windsurfing lessons. You can swim in the lakes, but they tend to be very cold even in the height of summer. No fast water boats are allowed on Coniston so now water skiing or anything like that. Other activities: You can go pony trecking from Spoon Hall, you can hire a mountain bike, go rock climbing - there are organisations who will organise this for you, for a price. (Again, I don't know what this is likely to cost you as its never appealed to me.) Shopping: Don't buy walking gear here, it costs a bomb. There's all you could ask for in the way of tourist stuff - fudge, postcards etc. If you want groceries, there's a small Co-op, and a butchers, which also does groceries. I recomend that you try the Cumberland Sausage from the butchers. They also sell local lamb and venison when in season. Food: This being a moderatly touristy place,there are plenty of places to eat. The Bull and the Ship both do good pub food and I would recomend either. There is a pizza place, which used to be a really good chip shop. There are several cafes as well - including one down by the lake. It tends to be a bit pricey but not outrageous. The Jumping Jenny cafe at Brantwood has the best views by far and you don't have to go into Brantwood to sample it. Cultural tourism: Coniston has two things it's well known for - the crash of the Bluebird killing pilot Cambell- to which there is as yet no real memorial, and John Ruskin, about whom there's a great deal. Ruskin was a Victorian thinker, a social reformer and a man with a morbid fear of pubic hair!As his home was in Coniston, there's a lot about him. Brantwood, his home, is open to the public, and contains a wealth of stuff about Ruskin, as well as art exhibitions. The house also has significant grounds. Goin
g round costs about five pounds for an adult, but is cheaper if you've been on the launch. The site also hosts the Jumping Jenny, and a small gallery of work by local artists - free entry to this bit, and opportunity to buy some really lovely stuff. The town also has a Ruskin museum - about four pounds for an adult to go round. This contains some stuff about the history of Coniston as well. Going to Coniston gives you a quiet break - its not an ideal place for children if what they had in mind was Disney, but for quiet people, its lovely. The walking and the views are superb, and there is a real sense of getting away form it all. If you fancy lounging in cafes, strolling along the waterside and pottering about gently in a boat, give this place a try. If you want night life and theme parks, forget it. I loved being in Coniston, and would recomend it as a place to stay, especially for those who enjoy walking.
This quiet village (although it is a fair size) has strong ties to my heart, as well as to my eyes. Situated about 8 miles south of Ambleside, one of the most picturesque of all the places to visit in the Lake District, Coniston has also an interesting history. Firstly, let me describe the village for you. Mainly built of slate, with its unique blue tinge, Coniston is situated just west of the head of Lake Coniston. There are 4 pubs in the village centre, and one just outside, heading south for about half a mile. The Yewdale pub, is also a hotel of very good quality, once run by Ken, and with a barman called Chubby! Large bar space with restaurant on the side. Seats about 60 people. Recommended to stay. The black bull, I think is opposite the Yewdale, smaller pub with adequate food The Crown hotel, a more basic hotel, stretches for about 50 yards, and has a few bars. They were renovating this last I heard, so the quality may well have gone up by now. The Sun Hotel, the finest of buildings, proudly stands overlooking the village from its perch, about 100 yards up a narrow lane. A majestic building, serving fine food in the restaurant and a varied pub menu. This hotel was more expensive, but has style. The Ship Inn, is about half a mile south of the village, and is worth the walk for its fine ales. There are about 5 cafes, including the Dairy, and also a bakery that serves fresh baked bread. There is a museum to Ruskin in the community centre, and various gift shops. The most varied of gift shops is that of Mr David hall and Fiona Hall. Brother and sister who have jointly ran this business for many years now. Always a warm welcome, great service and reasonable prices. Their shop is situated opposite the church, that dominates the village square. The main claim to fame of Coniston, was the death of Donald Campbell, in Bluebird, as he attempt
ed to break the water speed record in the 60’s. His boat was recently recovered from the bottom of the lake, but I am pretty sure the locals would have rather it was left to lie where it rested. The is also a derelict copper mine at the top of a short walk above Coniston. This was so vast, its scars can be seen many years after it was closed down. Legend has it they actually mined for gold, but found copper instead. The Old Man of Coniston, is the proud hill/mountain (you can argue that one) that stands above this village, and was once the tallest mountain in Lancashire, before borders were re-arranged. I hope this gives you enough of a taste to visit if ever you are near, as I will in the near future. There are many walks of varying ease to difficult, and I am sure this will be loved by couples and families Angus