A guide to Coniston Village
Coniston is one of the best bases for simply getting out and about and exploring the fells, mountains, water and forest. Situated in the heart of the Lake District, Coniston Village lies at the northwest head of Coniston Water. Found in the lea of the Coniston Old man, centring around a river, the village is rooted in a history of quarrying and mining for copper - the solid, grey stone buildings being hewn from the surrounding fell and mountain.
The location is perfect for visitors that love outdoor pursuits, walking, cycling and water sporting holidays. At all points of the compass, there are trails, leafy forest paths, tracks and lakeshores to explore, where you need travel very little distance to find a new and exciting landscape.
The village, along with its perfect location, has attracted some notable past residents and continues to be a great favourite with holidaymakers today. John Ruskin lived at Brantwood, and Lord Tennyson resided at Tent Lodge, one of our holiday homes of which Turner painted in 1818 and, where over the years, also saw the likes of Collingwood, Darwin and the Holts of The White Star Shipping Line.
Arthur Ransome, the author of the famous Swallows and Amazons, resided in a number of the houses, where today you can still track down the places described in his children’s books. One recent name that will always be synonymous with Coniston is Sir Donald Campbell and the Blue Bird. A 'derring-do' character, who is best known for breaking the land speed and the water speed records in the same year. He is also remembered for the tragic accident whilst attempting to beat his personal best of 300mph, where Campbell’s craft disintegrated in the late 1960s. Recently the craft has been recovered and is in restoration - it can be seen at the Ruskin Museum in the village.
We have some lovely cottages in and around Coniston Village. Read on to feel inspired.
Shopping - Dining - Entertainment
Coniston is very much a Lakeland village where, unlike some other places, has not yet totally given itself over to a host souvenir shop, boutiques and imported far eastern interior bling. However, it does have its fair share of lamp fittings, clock faces, bookends and the like, each stuck into, or made from shards and chunks of the Old Man designed to grace your mantelpiece, so be warned and exercise your better taste.
What Coniston does have is a small but good selection of shops ranging from butcher, baker, grocer and chemist, along with outdoor clothing stores such as Coniston Outdoor & Country and the ever reliable and professional Summitreks on Yewdale Road. For dining and a decent pint, there are a number of hotels and inns. Perhaps the best known is the Black Bull at the heart of the village by the river. The oldest inn, it serves hearty pub grub and the finest local brew, Coniston Gold, and has often been a welcome rest stop after a day on the mountain or lake. Across the water on the east shore is the Jumping Jenny Restaurant at Swarth, fully licenced, serving delicious meals all day. Back to the village and you can sample the Yewdale or The Ship Inn, with its beamed ceilings, cosy fire, good food and a fine pint of real ale. There is the Sun Hotel and The Waterhead Inn, set on the banks of Coniston Water and noted for its restaurant. There are plenty of cafes along with a new venue, the Steam Bistro, which is getting rave reviews from our guests.
Each year there are a number of local events: the Coniston Country fair takes place in July and it is held on the shores of Coniston Water. The fair is a traditional Lakeland Show offering visitors an insight into Cumbrian Life. Attracting thousands of visitors and locals each year there is plenty for everyone, with a variety of shows from Fell Foxhounds and Herdwick Sheep, to Sheepdogs and Cumbrian Walking Sticks. Traditional Cumbrian Sports are held, with a competition of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling and a Fell Race to the top of the mighty Coniston Old Man and back. There are tents offering the best of Lakeland crafts and food, along with trade stands, refreshments, amusements and much more, all set against a backdrop of lake and mountain.
Each August, the Lakeland Country Fair takes place at Torver. It is a similar event to the July fair set on the lake shores making for a great day out. Another event is the annual Coniston 14, run for charity and attracting entries from all around the country. First run in 1982 it has become a popular spring event in the village calendar. The hilly route follows the course of the road that circles Coniston Water with stunning views of the surrounding peaks and fells. The sight of hundreds of runners flowing through the narrow lanes like a human river is quite a sight.
Out and About - Local Walks - Activities
In the village of Coniston is the Ruskin Museum, charting the history of Coniston from the early prehistoric era to the jet age. At Brantwood House, home of John Ruskin, you can see an exhibition of Ruskin's life and work. There is also a planned walk from the house – why not make a day of it by dining at the Jumping Jenny Restaurant? A pleasing way to get to the house is by launch from the village.
For the adventurous there are plenty of activities on offer. Summit Treks, run by Ron Rutland, will take you rock climbing, abseiling, aqua sailing, canoeing and mountain biking. Similar are Joint Adventures, or you may like to try some avian pursuits, taking to the air with Coniston Paragliding. At the Coniston Boating Centre, you can hire all manner of craft from sailing boats to canoes, windsurfers to little motorboats, all there for you to have fun mucking about in and on the water. The lake is abundant with trout, eel, perch and huge pike. The friendly staff at the Coniston Boating Centre seem very helpful and can organise boat fishing for visitors.
A favourite spot on the lake is to seek out Near Peel Wood and Peel Island – AKA Wild Cat Island in Ransoms Swallows and Amazons. The wood, with its craggy rocks and little bay is accessed from the shore and is a great spot for picnics, paddling and swimming, however, to get to the island you will need a boat as it lies about 100 meters off the shore.
The Grizedale Forest flanks much of the east shore. A massive, working woodland of pine and deciduous trees, it is crisscrossed with paths and tracks for walking and mountain biking, along with Go-Ape, the tree-top adventure course which gets you swinging, scrambling and zip wiring through the forest canopy. The Forest Management has commissioned some fabulous statues and installations throughout by local and international artists. It is well worth driving via Hawkshead, around to the visitor centre for a forest map and information to get the best from your day out.
One of the popular trails begins in the village by the bridge, where a path takes you deep into the old Coppermines Valley, with its beck and waterfalls. From the head of the valley, you could carry on discovering hidden tarns set on the lower slopes of the Mountain. The Old Man, standing at 2635 feet is the king of the Coniston Mountain Range - paths lead to the summit, where the view is spectacular. Even if you only go some of the ways you will have a wonderful experience.
We have some lovely cottages in and around Coniston Village. Please visit our Lake District collection for accommodation inspiration.