Coniston, Lake District Sunday 3rd June 2018

Today’s Walk

Strenuous Leader : Malcolm Chamberlain   Distance : 11.50 miles

This walk takes 5 hours and climbs 480 m or 1500 ft and the first climb is steep – please bring plenty of water.
We head northwest out of Coniston on the Cumbria Way through Back Guards Wood to Yewdale. From here we start to climb, through Harry Guards Wood, taking the Uskdale Gap to the top of Holme Fell (317m); some parts of this path are narrow, rough and steep. If the weather is clear, then we will get good views of Coniston Water and across to Lingmoor Fell and Langdale. We then descend to Oxen Fell High Cross and climb up the path to Tarn Hows, where there is an ice cream van and toilets. From here we descend to Boon Crag Farm (more good views) before one last short climb through Guards Wood and back into Coniston.

Moderate Leader : Pamela Chamberlain   Distance : 8.70 miles

We head northwest out of Coniston on the Cumbria Way to climb through Guards Wood and Tarn Hows Wood on pathways, some of shale, and make our way to Tarn Hows. There is a moment to take a quick break before we walk around the water and head downhill via waterfalls. This path is narrow (1 person at a time), slippery and will take some time to complete. At the bottom of the waterfalls we will walk via Yewtree Farm to Shepherd’s Bridge and make our way across fields of sheep before one last short climb through Back Guards Wood and back into Coniston.

Leisurely Leader : Peter Denton   Distance : 5.00+ miles

Off we go! We pass the Ruskin Museum past Mart Crag then Yewdale Crag, we cross the road (A593) go to Yewdale Beck and then into Tarn Hows Wood. We pass Tarn Hows Cottage and go up to Tarn Hows where we lunch. We then head back down to Coniston via Hill Fell Plantation for a well-earned Cuppa or something. Although this walk does not have the usual miles for a leisurely walk it is not an easy walk as it has a long climb at the first part of the walk.

Easy Leaders : Ruth Melling &, Hazel Anderton   Distance 5.00 miles

A nice walk. After leaving town we walk near the lake side, passing Coniston Hall, as far as Torver jetty and then turn up and go past a camping site with yurts and teepees. We follow the route of the main road back to town but walk mainly on an old railway track, and only one part on a newly constructed footpath on the roadside verge. It is flat nearly all the way apart from going up to the campsite, and going down back into town right at the end. There are no stiles, and generally good underfoot on little lanes and good tracks apart from one small section which might be muddy in wet weather. Our boots came home clean. Lovely views all round often with the lake in sight. Near the jetty we saw some chemical loos, think called Lakeside Loos. Not a pretty sight looking down the pan but well maintained as the interior of the booth was clean, did not smell and hand cleanser was provided.

Notes In The Area

Dominated by the Coniston Fells, which rise to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston (2643 ft) the pretty village of Coniston is one of the most popular places in the Lake District and much quieter than Keswick or Ambleside. Its name derives from the Anglo-Saxon for the ‘king’s village’. The fells that surround it have the characteristic ruggedness of Borrowdale Volcanic rocks, yet the village itself is built on slates and shales. Despite the development nearby of slate quarries and copper mines which, in the 19th century brought the village much of its prosperity, the character of the village, which gathers round its fine church of St Andrew, remains largely unaffected. Some terraced cottages date from the mid-18th century. At that time Coniston and the whole of the Furness area formed part of Lancashire, but became part of Cumbria in the local government reorganisation of 1974. St Andrew’s is a Georgian church in the middle of Coniston village. The churchyard contains the grave of the noted Victorian intellectual John Ruskin. Also, inside the church is a memorial display featuring the engine of a crashed World War II bomber with information on the rescue attempt and crew. Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin from 1872 until his death in 1900, has been described as the most beautifully situated house in the Lake District. It enjoys some of the finest lake and mountain views in England and has diverse cultural associations. The copper mines, for which the area is renowned, probably date from Norman times, but were primarily worked from the 16th century when German miners were used. The main valley rising along Church Beck into the fells is still known as Coppermines Valley, and was the scene of considerable mining activity until the end of the First World War. The ore was taken out of Coniston on a railway opened in 1859, which linked with the Furness Railway near Broughton in Furness. Now, only the track bed remains and is used as a public footpath in places. 

The nearby Coniston Water is one of the longest straight stretches of placid water in the Lake District, 5 miles long, and was used for Donald Campbell’s ill-fated attempt at the world water speed record in 1967. His jet-powered boat, Bluebird, went out of control as he attempted to become the first man to break 300 mph on water, and Campbell was killed. Basically, when the boat reached a certain speed it took off as if it was an aeroplane. His body has never been found, until very recently, when remains, believed to be those of Campbell have been recovered from the lake, following the discovery and raising of Bluebird itself. The boat is now undergoing extensive restoration. A short distance to the north of Coniston is Tarn Hows, a popular beauty spot. The tarn is strictly an artificial pond created by damming a stream and a few pools of marshland. The area around Tarn Hows is now in the care of the National Trust, and was once owned by Beatrix Potter, the author and illustrator of books for children, including Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck and others. She sold half of the Tarn Hows area to the National Trust at cost, and bequeathed the other half.