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Whether you are in the mood for a challenging climb, a scenic stroll or a waterside walk, you’ll find an abundance of walking routes around Coniston Water.
It’s an activity that’s available to all with accessible paths, National Trust sites and plenty of pubs where you can stop for refreshments along the way. Walking in the Lake District is the perfect way to discover hidden fells and secret valleys as well as explore some of the more popular tourist hot spots during your next getaway to the Lake District.
Here’s our guide to some of the best Coniston walks:
#01 - Coniston Boating Centre to Torver Common Woods
This is a straightforward walk along the shoreline of Coniston Water with the option to either return to Coniston Boating Centre by foot or to catch a launch boat from Torver jetty. It’s a ‘Miles without Stiles’ route which means it’s suitable for all with smooth footpaths and gates that are wide enough for wheelchairs, prams and pushchairs.
Things to look out for along this walk include the Brantwood Estate which was once the home of John Ruskin and boasts views across to the Old Man of Coniston.
Starting point: Lake Road car park, LA21 8AN
Distance: 4.4 miles (or 2.2 miles if you catch the boat for the return leg)
#02 - Monk Coniston to Tarn Hows
This scenic walk takes in two bodies of water and a trip on the National Trust’s historic Steam Yacht Gondola - it’s the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon in the Lake District.
Travel by boat from Coniston Pier to Monk Coniston then walk through the pretty grounds of this Lake District estate which include an arboretum and walled garden.
Follow the footpath through Tarn Hows woodland before circling around the tarn itself. Tarn Hows is one of the Lake District’s most beloved beauty spots and you can soak up some stunning views as you make your way around the water before heading back down to Coniston past Boon Crag Farm which was used in the filming of Swallows and Amazons.
Starting point: Coniston Pier, LA21 8AN or Monk Coniston, LA21 8AH.
Distance: 3.5 miles
#03 - Tom Gill to Tarn Hows
This alternative walk to Tarn Hows is a bit more challenging with rocky gill side paths and steep narrow trails, but it does take in the majestic Tom Gill falls which is one of the Lake District’s prettiest waterfalls.
There’s a car park at the start of the walk and after reaching Tarn Hows you’ll pass by Yew Tree Farm which was once owned by Beatrix Potter and featured as her home in the film Miss Potter. It’s up to you whether you walk all the way around Tarn Hows but keep an eye out for stunning views of Yewdale as you head back towards Coniston.
Starting point: Glen Mary National Trust car park, LA21 8AQ
Distance: 1.6 miles
#04 - The Old Man of Coniston
The most well-known Coniston fell has got to be The Old Man of Coniston which towers over the village at a height of 803 metres (or 2,634 feet). There are a number of routes to the top of ‘The Old Man’ but the most popular and direct one is from Coniston Village. We recommend parking at Walna Scar Road which will cut about a kilometre from your walk to the top of this peak.
You don’t need any mountaineering skills or equipment to tackle the route but you will require good walking shoes and a head for heights. You’ll see the remains of slate mines as you climb towards the summit along a zig-zagging trail that passes by the beautiful Low Water Tarn.
Choose a clear day for your walk and you’ll be rewarded with far-reaching views that include Scafell, Blencathra and Kentmere - if you’re lucky you might even see all the way to the Isle of Man.
Starting point: Walna Scar car park, LA21 8HD
Distance: 4 miles
#05 - High Nibthwaite to Top O’Selside
Another Lake District climb worth tackling is Top O’Selside - a peak of 335 metres (1099 feet) which lies between Coniston and Lake Windermere on the edge of Grizedale Forest.
Start out from the peaceful hamlet of Nibthwaite on the east of Coniston Water and head up through Bethecar Moor on this Wainwright fell walk which also takes in the peaks of Brock Barrow and Low Light Haw on the way to the summit of Top O’Selside
Top O’Selside is the highest hill on the eastern edge of Coniston and stunning views over the Coniston Fells make the climb well worth the effort.
Starting point: High Nibthwaite, LA12 8DF
Distance: 4 miles
#06 - Coppermine Valley walk
The Coppermine Valley lies above Coniston and is a reminder of this village’s copper mining history which dates back to Elizabethan times and was still going strong as recently as the 1950s.
This walk starts at the Black Bull Inn and you’ll take a gravel track out of Coniston, passing along the side of Church Beck before crossing over Miner’s Bridge and into the Coppermine Valley. The landscape here is peppered with disused entrances to the historic mines and shafts so keep an eye on children and make sure dogs are kept on a lead while exploring this valley.
Carry on walking along the access track to the serene Levers Water dam and the nearby Boulder Valley where you can see a range of interesting rock formations such as The Pudding Stone before heading back to Coniston Village and a rewarding drink at The Sun Inn.
Starting point: Black Bull Inn, LA21 8DU
Distance: 2.3 miles
#07 - Coniston to Hawkshead
Hawkshead is a pretty Lake District village that’s around 4 miles from Coniston. You can take a walk from Coniston to Hawkshead, spend time exploring the village’s dog-friendly shops, pubs and tearooms then catch a regular bus back to your starting point.
There’s a direct road from Coniston to Hawkshead but the safer and more scenic walking route is a 6.5-mile point to point walking trail which skirts the edge of Tarn Hows, taking in farmland and open countryside before heading up Hawkshead Hill towards the village square.
While in Hawkshead it’s worth visiting the Beatrix Potter Gallery and exploring The Old Grammar School where William Wordsworth was once a resident.
Starting point: Coniston Village car park, LA21 8EH
Distance: 6.5 miles
#08 - Grizedale Forest
Grizedale Forest is a good place to head to for a family-friendly Lake District walk as this large forest park near Coniston has a number of walking trails that are suitable for all ages and abilities. For a challenging walk try the 10-mile Silurian Way which takes in both sides of Grizedale Valley and includes the summit of Carron Crag which is the highest point in the forest.
At the other end of the spectrum is the easy access Ridding Wood Trail which has a mile of even pathways and passes through ancient oak woodland - perfect for a nature trail with little ones.
Starting point: Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre, LA22 0QN
Distance: Various from 1 mile to 10 miles
Difficulty: Walks range from 🚶 to 🚶🚶🚶🚶
#09 - Cathedral Cave
Cathedral Cave is a series of interlinked quarries that are around 5 miles north of Coniston. Start the walk at the little hamlet of Tilberthwaite which is nestled in a valley under Wetherham mountain at the top of Coniston village.
Parking is available at Tilberthwaite and you’ll pass by farmland and Moss Rigg Wood on your way to the cavern. You can walk through an underground tunnel to reach Cathedral Cave but make sure to keep dogs and children close to you and safe. You’ll also need to bring a suitable torch to light your way to this magical Coniston cavern.
Starting point: Tilberthwaite Quarry car park, LA21 8DG
Distance: 3.7 miles
#10 - Lowick Common Nature Reserve
Lowick Common is a Cumbria Wildlife Trust site that makes an ideal spot for a spring or summer walk. It’s a few miles south of Coniston Water and there’s a maze of trails and pathways through the nature reserve with a full circuit of the common coming in at around 2 miles.
The area is dotted with ponds with dragonflies, butterflies and yellowhammers are amongst the species you can spot during a walk around the nature reserve. Some of the pathways can be overgrown and uneven so take care with young children and dogs must be kept on leads.
There’s a steep walk from the common up to Lowick Beacon which gives a stunning view of the surrounding hills to the north and of Morecambe Bay to the south.
Starting point: LA12 8EA
Distance: 2 miles
With so many scenic walks around Coniston, it makes an ideal base for a short break or holiday to the Lake District. There are also lots of lovely Coniston cottages where you can rest your head after a busy day of exploring. Here are just a few of the places you can stay:
A romantic one-bedroom holiday cottage that’s set on a private estate at the northern tip of Coniston Water with private jetties, lakeshore access and a shared central courtyard.
Park Gate Cottage
Originally a gatekeeper's cottage for the Coppermine railway line, Park Gate Cottage is a dog-friendly two-bedroom holiday home that’s just a 10-minute walk from Coniston Village.
This dog-friendly three-bedroom holiday home looks out over Coniston from an elevated position above the village and comes with wonderful views of the area.
How Head House
A large five-bedroom holiday home that dates back to the 16th century and looks out over Coniston Water from a spot on the lake’s northeast shoreline.
For more inspiration read our guide to Coniston and browse our full selection of Coniston cottages.