Coniston Water - explore and visit

Coniston Water and Coniston village

Coniston Water is about five miles long and half a mile wide. Above its western shore, the mountain of the Old Man of Coniston towers above the lake and the village.

The lake is about half a mile down from the village, where you can hire boats and bikes from Coniston Boating Centre (opens in new window). There are shops, pubs and places to eat in the village.

Brantwood (opens in new window) overlooking the eastern shore, John Ruskin's home, is open to visitors with its beautiful gardens and views. The Ruskin Museum (opens in new window) in the village features an exhibition about Sir Donald Campbell, who was killed in 1967 making an attempt on the world speed record in his speedboat Bluebird.

Wheel of a steamer © Dave Willis

Coniston Boating Centre Attractions

Have a great family day out at Coniston. Pre-book motor boats, canoes, bikes and more!

Things to do in Coniston


This pretty village's cobbled lanes are best explored by foot. There are many pubs, shops and cafes. You can see Wordsworth's schoolboy signature carved in a desk at Hawkshead Grammar School. The Beatrix Potter Gallery (opens in new window) occupies rooms once used by the solicitor William Heelis, Potter's husband.

Esthwaite Water

This small lake, just two miles long, near Hawkshead is privately owned. However there is a footpath to the lake from the road just south of Hawkshead which follows the shore for a short time. There is also a small public access area by the lake shore just before Near Sawrey.

Useful links

Getting to Coniston

There are regular buses to Coniston from Ambleside and Hawkshead (service 505, Stagecoach) and from Ulverston and Barrow (Service X112, Blueworks Travel) For more details and links to timetables see Travel and Transport

SwimSafe code

Be Seen, have support

Swimmers may be able to see boaters but boaters may not be able to see swimmers!

  • Have a safety boat or canoe support displaying a white and blue Alpha flag Blue and white Alpha flag, warning of divers or swimmers in the water.
  • Wear a bright swim cap and tow a bright float.
  • Never swim alone.

Take a look at the photos below. If you were steering a boat, which swimmer is easier to spot?

Showing how much easier a swimmer is to spot when next to a support boat

Be Water wise

Exposure to cool water can rapidly lead to hypothermia

  • Wear a wetsuit to keep you warmer and more buoyant.
  • Enter the water slowly to get used to it.
  • Check the depth and the water bed by walking in carefully.
  • Don't jump in.

Be Informed

Other people use the lakes too! Windermere, Derwentwater, Coniston Water and Ullswater are busy with boats. People on boats may struggle to see swimmers. A collision with any boat can be fatal.

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Be Mindful

  • Choose one of the quieter lakes that do not allow boats.
  • Avoid mooring areas, marinas and jetties used by boats, ferry routes and boating channels.
  • Be aware boaters may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.
  • Only swim when weather conditions are suitable - remember they can change quickly.

BoatSafe code

Be aware

  • A white and blue Alpha flag Blue and white Alpha flag, warning of divers or swimmers in the water means there is a swimmer or diver in the water.
  • Keep a look out. Swimmers are not easy to see.
  • Make yourself aware of the lake byelaws for the National Park's lakes.
  • If you are using a powerboat, make sure you have had suitable training.
  • Know your lake.


Swimmers and other lake users may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.

  • Maintain a proper lookout for swimmers and other boats.
  • Swimmers can be very difficult to see, especially when there are waves or sun glare.


  • Keep as far away from swimmers and their support boats as possible.
  • Boats supporting swimmers can not move out of your way.
  • Your wash can put swimmers and other lake users into serious difficulty.
  • Slow down and keep a safe distance.

Turn off engine

  • Always wear a kill cord, and make sure it is attached to the driver of the boat.
  • In an emergency, if you do get too close to a swimmer, turn off your engine to stop injury from propellers.
  • In an emergency ring 999 and ask for the coastguard. 

Print out a handy guide

Full version

Need holiday accommodation?

Cottage near Coniston - copyright Charlie Hedley

We've cosy holiday cottages, quirky boutique hotels, friendly bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels!

Our commission goes towards keeping the National Park special: Browse and book accommodation online here