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Lake District | Things to do at Coniston Water

Posted by Luci Ackers on 30 November 2017
Related property: Merlewood
Lake District | Things to do at Coniston Water

Coniston Water, in the Southern Lake District, is one of the National Park’s greatest attractions. Not just for its beauty but for its attractions too.

As the third largest lake in the Lake District, there is always a lot on offer here to keep you busy, no matter the time of year. And at roughly half an hour from Merlewood, it makes for a good day out.

Why Coniston?

It is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District. The views from the water itself are lovely, you’ve got woodland and fells framing the shoreline and a number of walking routes disappearing into the beautiful countryside.

The famous ‘Old Man of Coniston’ is a well-known mountain in the Furness Fells, which you can see from the lake, over to the west. The Old Man is a popular one with fell-walkers and tourists because there are several routes to the top that are well way-marked.

The surroundings are really picturesque and it’s a great area to go for a walk, either along the lake shore or deeper in to the countryside along the footpaths and trails that wind their way through the woodlands and countryside. The three picturesque islands in the centre of the lake are now owned by National Trust, and the popular Grizedale Forest Park lies to the east.

Coniston Boating Centre

Particularly popular for boating activities, Coniston Water is a good lake for kayaking and canoeing. In fact, the Coniston Boating Centre is ideal for a range of activities and provides everything you need for keeping active or keeping little ones occupied.

Water activities

At the Centre you can hire motorboats, rowing boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and sailing dinghies. They also provide great activity days such as group canoeing with an instructor, or gorge scrambling where you scale waterfalls and swim.

Land activities

If boats just aren’t your thing, you’ll find the centre also hires out bikes, which are a great way to explore all the picturesque lakeside paths around Coniston water and further afield. Both adult and children’s bikes are available, plus trailers and tag-alongs. So the whole family can get involved. The centre’s activity days also offer non-water activities such as archery and rifle shooting.

Open every day from 10am – 4pm, the Coniston Boating Centre provides guaranteed fun for families, couples and anyone who enjoys outdoor activities! There is also a little café onsite for when you want to grab a bite to eat or a pick-me-up cuppa.


Brantwood House

On the eastern shore of the lake, Brantwood House was once the home of John Ruskin and is now open for visitors. The famous artist and writer lived here during the late 19th century for the final 28 years of his life. The house now is a homage to his life and works, acting as a museum as well as a pretty visitor attraction. This Lakeland estate has lovely gardens, lots of activities going on for families and a little tea room too.


The National Trust

The Steam Yacht Gondola is a great way to cross Coniston in style. A lavish Victorian steam-powered yacht has been rebuilt and is now run by the National Trust in order to provide tours across Coniston. Visitors can enjoy the views from the opulent saloons or up on the deck.


Grizedale Forest

Separating the Lakes of Coniston and Windermere, Grizedale Forest is to the east. There is a visitor centre which is open almost every day of the year and a GoApe centre too. Woodland adventures up in the trees, high ropes, bridges ladders and swings are enjoyed by Adults and children alike.


In winter

Some of the lake’s water activities might be shut during the winter months due to the weather out on the water. But there is still lots to do. Firstly, walks and bike routes are obviously open year-round. And those fells aren’t going anywhere either. If you go prepared, you can enjoy being outdoors whatever the weather!

If you’d rather stick to the safety of the indoors, Brantwood is open; have a wander and a bite to eat, it’s a really interesting place. The Ruskin Museum is on the opposite bank, in the town of Coniston itself. This is open most days of the year though it is worth checking the website before you set off, just to be sure.



Dove Cottage, just half an hour north from Coniston’s northern edge is the former home of William Wordsworth, who drew a lot of inspiration from his time living in the Lake District. The house is now a visitor attraction, largely unchanged since Wordsworth’s day, great for an insight into his life. Opposite is the Wordsworth Museum which hosts an array of his letters, journal entries poems and paintings.


How to get here

From Merlewood, it is really simple to get to Coniston Water. Head north to Newby Bridge, take the A590 and then north up the A5092/A5084 towards Coniston. There are several parking areas around the lake. You can find directions on the Lake District Website here.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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