lake district attractions

conistion water

Coniston Water

Coniston Water (sometimes simply called Coniston locally) in Cumbria, England is the third largest lake in the English Lake District. It is five miles (8 km) long, half a mile (800 m) wide, has a maximum depth of 184 feet (56 m), and covers an area of 1.89 square miles (4.9 km²). The lake has an elevation of 143 feet (44 m) above sea level. It drains to the sea via the River Crake.


Coniston Water is an example of a ribbon lake formed by glaciation. The lake sits in a deep U-shaped glaciated valley scoured by a glacier in the surrounding volcanic and limestone rocks during the last ice age.

Immediately to the west of the lake sits the Old Man of Coniston, the highest fell in the Coniston fells group.


Remains of agricultural settlements from the Bronze Age have been found near the shores of Coniston Water. The Romans mined copper from the fells above the lake, and a potash kiln and two iron bloomeries show that industrial activity continued in medieval times. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Coniston Water was an important source of fish for the monks of Furness Abbey who owned the lake and much of the surrounding land. Copper mining continued in the area until the 19th century.

Victorian artist and philosopher John Ruskin owned Brantwood house

The Victorian artist and philosopher John Ruskin owned Brantwood house on the eastern shore of the lake, and lived in it from 1872 until his death in 1900. Ruskin is buried in the churchyard in the village of Coniston, at the north end of the lake.

Swallows and Amazons - Author: Arthur Ransome

Arthur Ransome set his children's novel Swallows and Amazons and some of its sequels on a fictional lake, but drew much of his inspiration from Coniston Water. Some of Coniston Water's islands and other local landmarks can be identified in the novel. In particular, Peel Island is the Wild Cat Island of the book including the secret harbour.

Waterspeed record

In the 20th century Coniston Water was the scene of many attempts to break the world water speed record. On August 19, 1939 Sir Malcolm Campbell set the record at 141.74 miles per hour (228.108 km/h) on Coniston Water in Bluebird K4. Between 1956 and 1959 Sir Malcolm's son Donald Campbell set four successive records on the lake in Bluebird K7.

In 1966 Donald Campbell decided that he needed to exceed 300 miles per hour (483 km/h) in order to retain the record. On January 4, 1967 he achieved a top speed of over 320 miles per hour (515 km/h) in Bluebird K7 on the return leg of a record-breaking attempt. He then lost control of Bluebird, which somersaulted and crashed, sinking rapidly. Campbell was killed instantly on impact. The attempt could not be counted as a record-breaking run because the second leg was not completed. The remains of Bluebird and Campbell's body were recovered from the lake in 2001.

Lady in the Lake

In recent times, Coniston Water has become known for a controversial murder case. Mrs Carol Park was dubbed the 'Lady in the Lake' after the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name.

Steam Yacht Gondola

It is possible to cruise the northern part of Coniston Water on the steam yacht gondola “The Lady of the Lake” which makes regular trips during the tourist season between Coniston pier and Brantwood where it is possible to disembark and visit the house. The gondola was first launched in 1859 and carried on working until the 1960s when she was ran aground after a storm. An attempt to restore “The Lady of the Lake” in the 1970s was unsuccessful due to the amount of deterioration, however she was rebuilt to her original specifications and re-launched in 1980 as a tourist attraction, 120 years after her initial voyage on the lake.

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