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A day out in Coniston

If you’ve not been to Coniston yet, then let me try and convince you why you should. Coniston is a place that both looks picturesque and is filled with a local legacy that makes the people who belong to it feel a deep sense of pride. It might be a small place, but it has a rich, deep history- and with the Old Man of Coniston standing craggily over it, it’s set in the Spectacular landscape that keeps people coming back to the Lake District, Cumbria, time and time again. Here are 7 top reasons why you should visit Coniston (and why we think you’d fall in love)
1. Brantwood Brantwooda. The enchanting Brantwood house is the historical home of John Ruskin. Whilst he is a name on everyone’s lips who was brought up in Cumbria, this amazing historical figure isn’t always as well known outside of the county. But he really should be. An art-and-social critic, John Ruskin lived in the 1800s and was a contemporary (and is sometimes credited as being the biggest supporter of) the artist J.M.W. Turner. But there was so much more to Ruskin than that. He was a critical social thinker and objected to what he saw as the increasing mechanisation of the world around him, believing people were becoming less connected to each other, to their crafts, and to the environment. He encouraged, and supported, cottage industries, championed educating the poor. It is in his legacy the Ruskin Museum was founded (see below). Like a lot of people who feel the world is becoming less in touch even now, Ruskin found solace in the Lake District, and bought the stunning Brantwood House. Ever the innovator, he changed, adapted, and improved the building, installing an impressive 7 pained window (to represent the 7 Lamps of Architecture. Sacrifice, Truth, Power, Beauty, Life, Memory, Obedience), a tower in his bedroom, and he completely relocated the front door. The house today is open to the public, and is part gallery, part Museum. They invite you to use the furniture, a lot of it is Ruskin’s, to sit, or walk, in the places this great man did, and try and see the world from his perspective. It’s an enlightening and peaceful experience, and if you have the sort of artistic soul that loves to find a bit of magic in connecting to the past, the experience of standing in the tower he had built in his bedroom, looking over Coniston Lake, imagining this Victorian man starting his day with this view, all of nature’s splendour stretched before you, is an experience I cannot recommend highly enough. For more about Brantwood, including opening times, click here.
2. Ruskin Museum Ruskin MuseumSet up in the legacy of John Ruskin out of a lot of his own private collection, the Ruskin Museum safe guards, promotes, and celebrates Coniston’s history. A gem of a community Museum, they pride themselves in being an active part of the local school life, and in showing people that this supposedly small and easily over looked corner of the world has a deep cultural legacy that is still thriving today. The highlight for me was seeing one of the boats from the film swallows and amazons, and learning about Coniston’s favourite son, who is still very much missed, Donald Campbell. For information about the museum, click here.
3. Bluebird & Donald Campbell Bluebird K7 BlueprintsIf you’re a fan of human ingenuity and engineering then it’s likely you’ve heard of Donald Campbell. A true British eccentric, Campbell was dedicated to improving the speed of travel across water- and more, to smashing the speed record. Coniston, where he lived, was integral to this man’s drive, as Coniston Water, which is five miles long and half a mile wide, is a perfect track for such ventures. Campbell’s most famous creation, the Bluebird K7 was an incredible feat of engineering. In it he didn’t just break the water speed record. O no. He shattered it by an extra 100 miles per hour. Sadly, this incredible man’s life was cut short as he died in an accident whilst trying to break his own record in a modified version of the Bluebird K7. When going around Coniston to research this, one this was incredibly clear, he is missed still. If you’d like to learn more about this incredible life, I recommend visiting the Ruskin Museum (see above).
4. Ruskin’s Grave Ruskin's GraveIn the small, quaint churchyard of Coniston’s St Andrew’s, there stands a stunning gravestone. Designed to look like a Celtic cross, this amazing sculpture seems a fitting monument to a man who celebrated art, history, innovation, and tradition, with this cross combining them all. If you’re in Coniston, it’s well worth popping to the church to see- it’s a thing of beauty.
5. The Copper Mines Copper MinesConiston was once a mining town, and you can still go up and walk around the mines and see the remains of this fascinating industry. Make sure to bring your camera: the old equipment, spectacular views, natural rock formations, and signs of inudstry are sure to inspire you. There are little ruined buildings, and from the main mine processing site you can get up to see our next attraction
6. Old Man Old Man from the townOne of the ‘Wainwright Fells’, this mountain is one on a lot of people’s bucket lists and is fully deserves it. With a steep face sure to challenge you, and a more gradual incline for those less up to a challenge, it has something for all hikers. The view from the top- and the wind too for that matter- will always take your breath away.
7. Secret Slate Village Miniture Slate House

Finally on my list is the first thing that made me fall in love with the town. Dotted around, hidden behind walls and corners, are miniature houses built of local slate! I still don’t think I’ve found them all, so if you see any, please take a picture and post it on social media with the #theplacetobe so we can see! 

Looking for accommodation in Coniston? Check here.

Written by Alice Lawrence

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