Coniston, Lake District: history and best places to visit

Our guide to Coniston in the Lake District National Park with a look at the history of the area and best places to visit.

Lake and trees in autumn

Coniston is one of the Lake District’s jewels. It sits in the heart of the Lake District National Park, and the village’s location, just half a mile from Coniston Water, makes it perfect for all kinds of activities, from sailing to fell walking.

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Our guide to Lake Coniston in the Lake District National Park with a look at the history of the area and best places to visit.

What is Coniston Water famous for?

Coniston pioneered the use of hydro-electricity, and local houses were powered entirely using this green energy source from 1932 to the mid-1950s. In 2007, a new scheme was built, and now supplies enough power for 260-300 houses via the national grid.

The big draw is the lake, the fifth largest in the Lake District. The best way to see the lake is from the water, and you can either hire your own boat through the Coniston Boating Centre  or take the Coniston Launch, a regular scheduled service that enables you to either drink in the scenery or get to different parts of the lake for other activities.

The Lake District's Blencathra mountain

What is there to do at Lake Coniston?

There are plenty of local walks to try  the Old Man of Coniston sits 803 metres above sea level, and thankfully there’s a tourist-friendly trail to the top. If that feels too strenuous, head to the north end of the water to see Coniston and Tarn Hows, which is administered by the National Trust.

Lake with boats surrounded by countryside
View from the top of Brock Barrow above Nibthwaite across to the Coniston Old man and Weatherlam in the background./Credit: Getty Images

The area is also renowned for its rock climbing – the eastern edge of Dow Crag, just three miles from the village, is widely renowned as the finest in the entire Lakes.

Also worth a visit is the Ruskin Museum should the weather prove unfriendly. This showcases local history, and fans of Arthur Ransome and Donald Campbell in particular will find much of interest here.


Best walks near Lake Coniston

Walk: Old Man of Coniston, Cumbria

Walk beside high tarns and copper-mining relics to a magical fell-top vista in the Lake District National Park

The village of Coniston, an attractive little spot bisected by the bustling waters of a mountain stream, sits near the northern end of beautiful Coniston Water in Cumbria.

View the Old Man of Coniston walking route

Old Man of Coniston Lake District ©Getty
Old Man of Coniston Lake District ©Getty

Best walks in the Lake District National Park

Of all the national parks in Britain, the Lake District in Cumbria is arguably the most celebrated – discover the the area’s fells, rivers, waters and towns with our favourite walks.

Sunlit valley and hillwalker; English Lake District, U.K
Sunlit valley and hillwalker; English Lake District, UK (Getty)

Best places to stay in Coniston Water

Step back in time and staying at the house – Yew Tree Farm – owned by Beatrix Potter in the 1930s. Prices include a full English breakfast cooked from local ingredients. If you’d rather stay in the village itself, check out the comfortable Crown Inn, again, breakfast is included.

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Best places to eat

The Sun Inn offers a delicious and varied lunch and evening menu cooked where possible with local produce, including fish caught from the lake. Don’t forget to sup one of the eight real ales on offer in the bar!