Coniston Tourist Information
Coniston prospered from the mid-1850’s with the significant production of copper ore and thousands of tons of slate from the numerous quarries. These two industries provided many of the population with employment. The town achieved additional benefit with the introduction of a rail link from Broughton-in-Furness, completed in 1859, speeding up the delivery of supplies to shops and industry. However, it was not only supplies to be transported by rail, but tourists, who came to walk, climb and admire some of the most spectacular scenery in the Lake District and Cumbria.
The tourist industry has continued to grow ever since, and the very numbers are evidence of the all-round high standards offered to, and appreciated by, the visitors.
The railway remained open for passenger traffic until 1958, and goods trains operated until 1962.
Little remains of the station buildings whose canopy was built in Swiss Chalet design to complement the grand surrounding scenery.
Coniston is a favourite with walkers, some of whom arrive to challenge the “Coniston Round”, and climbers to hone skills on Dow Crag. After a long day, some will be found enjoying a little of the locally produced ale from the small award winning brewery.
Brantwood, the home of the late poet, painter and writer, John Ruskin, stands on the eastern side of the lake in a position providing very fine views. It houses a collection of his paintings and original furniture. His grave in St. Andrews churchyard is marked by a Celtic Cross carved from local green slate. A visit to the Ruskin Museum is recommended.
Many of you will be familiar with the exploits of the late Donald Campbell who was killed on Coniston Water when attempting a world water speed record in 1967. His famous “Bluebird” flipped at around 300 mph. His remains were recovered and laid to rest in the churchyard of St. Andrews on 12 September 2001.
Coniston Water enjoys a fine setting and is ideal for those with an interest in water sports. The Victorian steamship “Gondola” sedately plies the length of the lake and passengers are treated with old fashioned hospitality and views of the fells and wooded slopes. It was here that the childrens author Arthur Ransome set his story of “Swallows and Amazons”.
Coniston treats its visitors well with a good range of shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and excellent accommodation to suit all pockets. Nearby is the Grizedale Forest, Tarn Hows, Ambleside, Windermere, Hawkshead, the Furness Peninsula and the west coast resorts. Be you a long or short term visitor, there is something for everyone, and Coniston will make you more than welcome.
How to get there:
By rail: From the West Coast Main Line, change at Carnforth for Foxfield on the Cumbrian Coastline. From Foxfield travel by road on the A593 directly to Coniston.
Or change at Oxenholme for Windermere. From Windermere,travel by road via Ambleside (as detailed below).
By road: Not so conveniently placed but easily found nonetheless. Leave the M6 at J36 and take the A590 via Newby Bridge to Penny Bridge. Here, turn right on to the A5092 and on reaching Lowick Green be prepared for the right turn following signs to Torver and Coniston.
Or, travel to Ambleside on the A590/591 and there take the A593.
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Walking and Climbing
Coniston and its surrounds has long been a favoured choice of walkers and climbers. Many are drawn by the challenge of the “Coniston Round”. This is an exacting walk beginning with the ascent of the “Old Man” and on to Brim Fell, Levers Hawse, Swirl How, Hen Crag and Lad Stones. There are of course less demanding paths and trails. For example the walk to Tarn Hows starting from Monk Coniston Car Park and passing through the gardens and grounds of Monk Coniston is 1 ½ miles of gentle exercise and lovely views of the fells and lake. Alternatively, the same starting point is convenient for the 1 ½ miles walk by road to Brantwood with lake and fell views en route. Brochures of low level walks are available from Tourist Information Centres. The fells of the Furness Peninsula are close by with a series of high and low level paths. Serious climbers may be tempted to move further afield to the rock faces of Pillar Rock near Wasdale or Borrowdales Shepherd Crag both of which are rated “very difficult. Wordsworth Country wishes to encourage safety on the fells and mountains. Please do not take any chances and always seek advice and information before embarking on anything which may be deemed risky.
Lots of opportunities for sailing, canoeing, rowing, windsurfing, kayaking and hire of electric powered boats. Tuition and advice for all levels of ability is available from locally based qualified instructors. More information from Coniston Boating Centre.
Fishing with a rod licence from any of the public shores is allowed. Contact the Tourist Information Centre for full information of permits and purchase or hire of tackle.
Options galore from the leisurely pedal to the energy of mountain biking. For the latter, there are the tracks of the nearby Grizedale Forest and the ultimate challenge of the route to the summit of Skiddaw from the Whinlatter Forest farther north.
Literally a forest of delights and surprises. There are walks along forest trails, cycle paths, wood sculptures, a high level “Go Ape” adventure, café, gift shops, cycle hire, picnic areas and expert advice and information on site. Good parking at the Visitor Centre and also at the new facilities a couple of hundred yards beyond. During the latter part of the year it is the venue of the Grizedale Stages Motor Rally. Please note that during this event some areas will be closed to walkers and cyclists.
Plenty to see and do around the third largest stretch of water in the Lake District and Cumbria. Of interest to many, it was here that the late Donald Campbells ill fated attempt on the World Water Speed Record took place in 1967 which tragically resulted in his death. Readers of Arthur Ransomes “Swallows and Amazons” will be interested in trying to identify the real life locations of his book Can you find “Wild Cat Island” or “Kanchenjunga”? A particularly good way to enjoy the scenery of the Water and its surrounds is as a passenger on one of the Coniston Cruises or aboard the Steam Yacht Gondola. The Cruises employ a mixture of ancient and modern. The vessels of 1920’s vintage are powered by solar electric energy. Personal commentaries will introduce you to features found on the Red or Green Route journeys plus cruises of special interest. The Steam Yacht Gondola is a magnificently restored craft and the oldest to be found in the north of England. It operates from Coniston Pier and includes stops at Brantwood.
Exhibits and displays detailing the development of local industries with emphasis on the mining history of the area. Also features the life of John Ruskin and a focus on Donald Campbell. French, German, Japanese language audio guide system available.
The former home of John Ruskin. The house, mountainside gardens and land occupy 250 acres with stunning views of the fells and Coniston Water. It is filled with Ruskin memorabilia, paintings and furnishings. Make a date and visit the outdoor theatre and a drawing room concert. The kids will enjoy the activity workshops.
Saint Andrews Church
A 19th C building. It is the burial place of John Ruskin which is marked by a cross carved from the distinctive green slate of the nearby Tilberthwaite quarry.
The charming setting of the tarn, level walks and views to the fells attracts photographers from world wide. It is reputed to be the most photographed Lake District attraction. The grassed slopes of one side provide a restful grandstand for relaxing. It is within easy reach of Coniston, has good parking, and if you don’t wish to use the car or walk, then the Mountain Goat Bus Company operates a service which connects with boats on Coniston Water. Also, The National Trust provides an April to October free service.