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The perfect family day out in Coniston


The third largest of the lakes, the five-mile stretch of Coniston water has a rich history of dynamic action that belies the peace and quiet you’ll find there today. Step back to 1955 and you’ll find Donald Campbell speeding across the surface on his way to breaking the world water speed record at over 200mph.

Today, Coniston has a genteel, traditional feel about it that is a long way from the more commercial, tourist-focused towns of Ambleside and Bowness. If you’re looking for the quiet lifestyle and unspoiled beauty that so defines the Lake District, then Coniston is the perfect place to find it.

The town is set just to the north of the lake and has a good mix of family friendly restaurants and authentic pubs. Don’t miss the 400-year-old Black Bull, which is home to the Coniston Brewing Company, whose award winning Bluebird Bitter was named in honour of Campbell’s record-breaking boat. You’ll also find a replica of the original Bluebird in the Lakeland Motor Museum.



Taking to the water these days is an altogether more relaxed and refined experience, especially if you take a trip on the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola. Built in the grander Victorian era of 1859, it’s splendidly finished, with a luxurious first class cabin that protects you from the Lakeland weather, as well as an open foredeck for a spot of fresh air. If the sedate pace of the Steam Yacht is not for you, you can always take to the water under your own steam, by hiring a boat from the edge of the village.

There’s more elegance to discover in nearby Brantwood, the former home of John Ruskin. Here you’ll discover a beautiful country house and gardens where you can while away a cultured afternoon in the shadow of the famous Victorian art critic and philanthropist.

No day out in Coniston is complete without taking a walk up the Old Man of Coniston, the 2635ft peak that towers over the village on the north west end of the lake. It’s a challenging walk and you’ll need to be prepared with suitable footwear, but the views from the top are more than reward for your efforts. Perhaps the hardest part of the climb on a sunny day, is resisting the urge to give up and enjoy a cool refreshing dip in Low Water along the way. (Do be careful swimming in this type of pool though as they can be very deep and dangerous and are not really suitable for children).

If you don’t fancy the full on climb up the Old Man, there are plenty of other wonderful walks to be had in and around Coniston, including the Grizedale Forest and the picturesque Tarn Hows. One of the hidden gems of the Lake District, Tarn Hows is not a natural lake; it was created to feed the local sawmill. However, since the National Trust inherited it from Beatrix Potter, it has been allowed to go back to nature and has become a truly stunning location.

Whether you are seeking outdoor action or a spot of laid-back relaxation, a day out in Coniston offers something for everyone, with a true unspoiled sense of the Lake District at its very best.

To find out more about the fun family activities available, visit the Coniston Tourist Information Centre or the Visit Cumbria website.