Coniston Water and its surrounding mountains and fells are one of the nation’s favourite landscapes for walking and waterborne activities. Lying to the west of Windermere, the two lakes are separated by the Furness Fells, the Rusland Valley and Grizedale Forest.
Of Cumbria’s sixteen large bodies of water, Coniston Water ranks as the third largest with a length of five miles, half a mile at its widest point and a depth of 184 feet. Reflecting in its waters are the peaks of the Coniston mountain Range.
Old Man Coniston
At 2635 ft, the Coniston Old Man is one the highest mountains in the Lake District, yet it is one of the most accessible. The natural beauty of the lake and its surrounding mountains and fells have attracted many artists and poets. John Ruskin lived at Brantwood; Lord Tennyson resided at Tent Lodge; and Arthur Ransome, author of the much-read Swallows and Amazons children’s classic, resided in a number of the houses set around the lake, where today you can still track down the places described in his stories.
Sir Donald Campbell
One recent name that will always be synonymous with Coniston is that of Sir Donald Campbell and the ill-fated Bluebird K7. A 'derring-do' character, he is perhaps more remembered for his tragic fatal-accident whilst attempting to best his water speed record of 300mph in 1967. Campbell's craft disintegrated during the attempt and was only recently recovered in 2001. You can see the remnants of the Bluebird K7 in the Ruskin Museum in Coniston Village.
Coniston Water offers generous public access to its shores. Along the east lake road are lots of little bays where you can park up, picnic, swim or fish. To get on the water you can hire boats at the Coniston Boating Centre. These range from row boats to canoes, sailing dinghies to small motor boats. If you’re feeling adventurous there is a host of activities on offer; Summit Treks and Joint Adventures offers rock climbing, abseiling, aqua-sailing, canoeing and mountain biking. If you would like to try some aerial pursuits, you can take to the air with Coniston Paragliding.
The Lake Cruise and Ferry Service offer regular daily sailing, calling at seven jetties - ideal for those visiting Brantwood. There is also a water taxi which you can take directly to the source of several walks. The beautifully restored Queen of the Lake Gondola runs from Coniston Pier to Brantwood, a trip of about 45minutes. It is possible to hire the craft for private parties such as anniversaries where, if well organised, relive its elegant past. Fishing at the waterside is open to all with a license. You may fish from any of the public shores - more information can be obtained from the Coniston TIC. The lake has trout, eel, perch and huge pike stock in abundance.
The Mountains, Fells and Forest
Coniston area is one of the best bases for getting out and about, exploring the fells, mountains, water and forest. There are plenty of local guides available that are well worth buying when making preparations for walking in the area.
The Old Coppermines Valley
From the village, by the bridge, a path takes you deep into the old Coppermines Valley, with its beck and waterfalls. From the head of the valley carry on discovering the hidden tarns set on the lower slopes of the Mountain.
Paths and Tracks
Paths lead to the summit, where the view is spectacular. There are trails taking in the low fell and lake shore, where you can pick up ferries and launches as part of your hike. Running from the east shores of the lake is the Grizedale Forest, a massive working woodland. It is criss-crossed with paths and tracks for walking and mountain biking.
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