Coniston
Coniston
A popular village at the north west corner of Coniston Water. The origin of the name is thought to derive from 'King's town'. Coniston has a long history as a centre for mining, with copper mines dating to the 17th century. More recently, slate mining has helped shape the landscape. However, it is primarily as a centre for walking that Coniston is rightfully known; the area is known for its superb recreational opportunities, and many of the most popular walks in the Lake District start or finish from Coniston.
Of these, the most popular - and one of the easiest - is the ascent of the Old Man of Coniston, the peak that rises above the village. There are several routes to the top, and the routes are well-trodden and easy to follow, yet still challenging enough to provide an enjoyable walk for even the most experienced fell-walker. Almost any walk in the area can be combined with other trails to create a much longer circular route. If you wonder if the ascent of the Old Man of Coniston may be too difficult for you, let me assure you that my 7-year old made it, and she is not known for her enthusiasm in tackling challenging exercise! Your reward for the ascent are wonderful views across Coniston Water.

If walking doesn't appeal to you, you'll probably enjoy taking a boat trip on Coniston Water. Several private companies provide regular boat trips. The Coniston Steam Gondola is just what it sounds like; a restored boat in the shape of a Venetian gondola, powered by a steam engine. There are also regular tours offered by the Coniston Launch company, with several themed voyages, including a Swallows and Amazon cruise (highly recommended). For Coniston Water was the setting for several of Arthur Ransome's popular 'Swallows and Amazons' stories. Keen readers of Ransome's work will recognize Coniston Water landmarks.

On the far shore of Coniston Water, across from the village, is Brantwood, the residence of Victorian writer John Ruskin. The house is preserved much as Ruskin left it, and the superb gardens provide wonderful views across the lake. The Ruskin Museum in Coniston provides more details of this remarkable man's life and works. John Ruskin is buried in the churchyard of Coniston's parish church.

A short distance away is the grave of Donald Campbell, world speed record pioneer. Campbell was killed on Coniston Water during an attempt on the world speed record when his boat, Bluebell, overturned and capsized. For many years his body lay lost in the depths of the lake, but it was later found, and Campbell was buried here, beneath a simple slate gravestone on which is engraved the shape of a bluebird.

A short distance to the north east is Tarn Hows, a famous Victorian beauty spot, where trails lead around a small lake set in a bowl of hills.

Coniston is proud of the fact that it was the very first recipient of the award 'Village of the Year', in 1999.