Coniston Water and the village of Coniston where once a hub of our industrial past, whilst today it is one of the most visited of all the Lakeland destinations, offering great walks to the world renowned Old Man Of Coniston as it rises dramatically to a height of 2,635 feet behind the village. With the village delightfully set between the mountain and the lake.
Should you consider climbing the local fells of Coniston, weather permitting you will be rewarded with some fantastic views and on a clear day you can see Morecambe Bay and the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the United Kingdom.
That being said Coniston Water is the third largest lake within the Lake District being 5 miles long, half a mile wide and with a depth of 184 feet.
The Romans mined copper from the fells above Coniston and this industrial activity continued in medieval times. In the 13th and 14th centuries Coniston Water was an important source of fish for the monks of Furness Abbey who owned the lake and much of the surrounding land with copper mining continuing in the area until the 19th century.
One of the most famous local inhabitants was the Victorian artist and philosopher John Ruskin who owned Brantwood House, which is situated on the eastern shores of Coniston Water, and he lived in it from 1872 until his death in 1900. Ruskin is buried in the churchyard within the village of Coniston.
Arthur Ransome set his children’s novel ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and some of its sequels on a fictional lake, although drew much of his inspiration from Coniston Water. Some of Coniston Water’s islands and other local landmarks can be identified in the novel. In particular, Peel Island is the Wild Cat Island of the book including the secret harbour.
Record Breaking Coniston Water
For a lot of people the association of the water speed world record attempts with Coniston Water being the scene of many of these attempts to break the world record of Sir Malcolm Campbell originally set in 1939 at a speed of 141.74 miles per hour in Bluebird K4. Between 1956 and 1959 Sir Malcolm Campbell’s son Donald Campbell set four successive records on Coniston Lake in Bluebird K7, a hydroplane.
In 1966 Donald Campbell decided that he needed to exceed 300 miles per hour in order to retain the record. On January 4th, 1967 he achieved a top speed of over 320 miles per hour in Bluebird K7 on the return leg of a record-breaking attempt. He then lost control of Bluebird, which somersaulted and crashed, sinking rapidly. Donald Campbell was killed instantly on impact. The record-breaking attempt could not be counted as a run because the second leg was not completed. The remains of Bluebird were recovered from the lake in 2001 and Campbell’s body was recovered later in the same year. A replica of Bluebird can be seen at the Lakeland Motor museum, at Holker Hall.
Sailing Coniston Water
There are two public launch services on Coniston Water with the Coniston Launch offering special lake cruises of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and ‘Campbell’s on Coniston’ for those wishing to explore the lake and its history. The National Trust’s steam yacht Gondola along with the Coniston Launch both call at Brantwood. Boats can be hired from the lakeside near the steam yacht, with various sizes of boat for hire.
The Monk Coniston Estate, Beatrix Potter purchased originally belonging to the monks of Furness Abbey in 1930. She immediately sold half to the National Trust and upon her death the remainder was given to the National Trust. The estate stretches from Coniston to Skelwith Bridge. It includes the famous Tarn Hows. The attraction being its sheer beauty, surrounded by thick woodland, and views towards Wetherlam, the Helvellyn range and the Langdale Pikes. There is a 1.5 mile path at Tarn Hows that is level and well maintained and thus suitable for wheelchairs.
Should you wish to see better quality photographs of Coniston Water please visit Coniston Water on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.
There is an abundance of holiday accommodation near Coniston Water and the surrounding area of the lake, with Campsites, Guest Houses and local pubs. For a pet friendly home search our Lake District Cottages for a local cottage close to Coniston Water.
I trust you enjoyed this article on Coniston Water and found it helpful.