Fell-walking is a chief attraction here. The pretty village of Coniston makes an excellent base for conquering the southern and western summits. There are several enticing inns and eateries here, as well as many independent shops. The village is close to the lake and the water-based activities this provides. Not to mention the stunning lake and mountain scenery. The lake itself, Coniston Water, is famously associated with Donald Campbell and his ill-fated speed record attempt in his boat, ‘Bluebird’. He is commemorated in the local brewed Coniston Bluebird Ale, which you will want to sample during your stay. The village and surrounding area is also associated with the eminent Victorian art critic John Ruskin. His former home of Brantwood lies a few miles along the lake shore. There are also some beautiful Coniston Walks.
An award-winning museum on Yewdale Road. Visitors are afforded a unique insight into the history of Coniston. Information and exhibits focus on John Ruskin, Donald Campbell and his craft Bluebird, Arthur Ransome, along with local industries of times past, including the production of slate, copper, Langdale linen, and Ruskin lace. – www.ruskinmuseum.com
One of the very most pleasant things to do in Coniston has to be whiling away an hour or two in the the Bluebird Cafe. Set right by Coniston Water at the end of Lake Road, by the piers and Coniston Boating Centre, the cafe enjoys fabulous views all round, and you can combine a visit here with a lake cruise, hiring a rowing boat, or exploring the lovely shoreline. – http://www.thebluebirdcafe.co.uk
Beautiful launches dating from the early 20th Century use a traditional Lakeland launch and Cygnet to glide you and your party over the lake, stopping at several jetties, including Brantwood, former home of Victorian art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin. You can alight at any of the stops and walk the fells and lakeside paths before taking to the water again. Guides offer commentaries as you go, and special itineraries include ‘Swallows and Amazons’ for Arthur Ransome fans and ‘Campbells on Coniston’ for those with an interest in the water speed record attempts that took place here. – www.conistonlaunch.co.uk
The craft that first inspired Captain Flint’s houseboat in ‘Swallows and Amazons’, The Gondola is the oldest steam yacht in the north of the country, and is owned by the National Trust. Let the breeze blow your cares away on deck or relax in the stylish saloon cabin as you glide over beautiful Coniston Water. – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/steam-yacht-gondola
As in the Lake District more generally, you can always head to the water in Coniston for things to do. Located at the end of Lake Road, right by Coniston Water, this centre allows you to hire rowing boats and sailing dinghies, motor boats, canoes and paddle boards. A great way to get properly acquainted with one of England’s loveliest lakes. – http://www.conistonboatingcentre.co.uk
What finer way to enjoy the best of Lakeland’s scenery? No previous riding experience is necessary, and children as young as 7 years old can enjoy pony rides under the guidance of an expert tutor. Located at Haws Bank close to the village. (015394 41391)
The Tourist Information Centre at Coniston is located next to the main village car park on Ruskin Avenue, and often hosts exhibitions as well as offering information on events, attractions, and things to do in Coniston.
Amongst several other shops there is a Co-op on Yewdale Road, and W.F.Hutchinson on Tilberthwaite Avenue is an excellent store which sells fresh bread and meat along with other produce.
There is a filling station on Broughton Road in the village centre.
Coniston Medical Practice is based at Wraydale House, on your left as you begin to leave the village to head down the lake side on the A593 – http://www.nhs.uk/Services/GP/MapsAndDirections/DefaultView.aspx?id=42954
The nearest veterinarian services are in Ambleside on Church Street and Windermere on Lake Road, both branches of the Oakhill Veterinary Group. – http://www.oakhillvetgroup.co.uk/home.html
There are pay and display car parks on Ruskin Avenue near the village centre, at The Old Station on Walna Scar Road towards Coniston Old Man, by Coniston Boating Centre on Lake Road, and at the head of the Lake at Monk Coniston. Some of the central streets in town offer time-limited parking only, though there is free unrestricted parking elsewhere.
Coniston is situated in the south-west of the area. It is well placed for exploring the whole Lake District, and is a short run from Ambleside and Grasmere. Hawkshead is nearby, and beyond lies Sawrey and Beatrix Potter country. The coast is within reach from here as you head west on the A593, and you can also go that way to take a drive up to the wild and beautiful valley of Wasdale in the north. Going south down past Hawkshead takes you to Newby Bridge and lower-lying hills and woodlands. Taking the turn for Little Langdale on the road from Coniston towards Ambleside is well worth the effort of negotiating the narrow lanes beyond, as it leads to one of the Lake District’s very prettiest valleys. Here you can find the rustic Slaters Bridge, a short walk from the Three Shires Inn, and nearby Cathedral Cavern, both products of the local slate-mining industry. At the end of the valley, high mountain passes provide an exhilarating drive and unsurpassed views, the imposing Wrynose Pass conveying you towards the Duddon Valley and Eskdale, and another pass winding its way over to the Great Langdale valley.
There are several minibus tour companies to choose from in the lakes if you want to take the stress out of sightseeing, and Bluebird Tours are based in Coniston. – http://www.bluebird-tours.co.uk
Leave the M6 motorway at Junction 36 and either pass by Kendal, taking the A591 to Ambleside and then the A593 to Coniston, or take the A590 and then the A5084 to Torver, and head north on the A593. Windermere rail station is at the end of the branch line from Oxenholme, on the west coast mainline near Kendal, and the 505 bus will take you to Coniston village from there. Information on bus timetables in the Lakes can be found here: http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/public-transport-road-safety/transport/publictransport/busserv/busservmap.asp