Shore thing

Mark Sutcliffe explores the wooded shoreline of Coniston Water, which inspired Arthur Ransome’s famous children’s tales

Lying just a few miles to the west of Windermere, Coniston is a quieter, more intimate stretch of water nestling below the rugged flanks of the famous Old Man – one of Lakeland’s most iconic mountains.. 

While crowds of holiday-makers make a beeline for Windermere and the bijou hotels and boutiques of Ambleside and Bowness, Coniston offers a more authentic Lake District experience. This close-knit little community was once part of Lancashire and remains fiercely independent in spirit. 

The gin-clear waters, rough-hewn slopes of the Old Man and the densely wooded shores of Coniston Water inspired Arthur Ransome to write his Swallows and Amazons stories. This usually calm ribbon of water was also the location for Donald Campbell's ill-fated attempt to set a new world speed record in 1967. 

This easy walk leaves the site gate and follows the line of an abandoned railway before descending through the woodland to reach the lake and following the shoreline to loop back to the Club site via a cosy Lakeland pub. For a longer and more varied route, catch the Coniston Launch from the jetty at Point 6 and cross the water to explore the house and gardens at Brantwood – John Ruskin’s elegant, historic lakeside home. 


1. From the main gate, head left along an access road, signposted Torver. Where the access road turns right towards a main road, keep straight on and continue through the gate. After 50m, head right then left, continuing along a path running parallel to the main road. 

2. 0.6km – After the path joins the road, continue past High Ground Farm then, after 300m, join a bridleway on the left heading towards Torver. After another 150m, keep left and continue under the bridge and through a 3couple of gates. 

3. 6km – After another 150m, turn left onto a footpath signposted Coniston Water. Climb gently half left on grassy path and through gate. 

4. 1.7km – Cross the lane and continue straight ahead on a gravel track. Follow the track past Brackenbarrow Farm, keeping right at a fork after the farm. Continue along a gravel path along the edge of woodland. At the next fork, head left through a gate, descending more steeply on a gravel path. 

5. 2.4km – After 50m, at a three-way fork, continue straight on a rocky track, descending through a gate and into the woods. Follow the path as it meanders downhill for 500m to the lake shore.

6. 3.2km – If you’re feeling adventurous, you could catch the Coniston Launch from the jetty across the lake to Brantwood, or up the lake to Coniston village, from where it’s a 30-minute walk back to the site. Otherwise, head left, over a footbridge following the Cumbria Way along the lake shore for the next three quarters of a mile.

7. 5.1km – At Coniston Old Hall, continue on a road around Sailing Club Bay and fork  right at a gate by a barn. Continue on a gravel track through the next gate, heading towards Coniston village.

8. 5.7km – After 250m, where the track curves right, take a footpath on the left heading into a coppice. Climb through the trees and through a gate, following a path through another couple of gates to a road.

9. 5.9km – Cross the road with care, heading right then left on a bridleway running behind The Ship Inn. Climb steeply for 75m then turn left through a gate onto a track. Continue past a church following the old railway line.

10. 6.5km – Head right through a gate and carefully rejoin a road at Park Gate house then veer left through a gate and follow the old railway back to the Club campsite.

About the route

  • Start/finish: Coniston Park Coppice Club Campsite, Park Gate, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8LA.
  • Distance: 7.2km/4.5 miles. 
  • Time: 1 hr 45 min.
  • Level: Suitable for all walkers of reasonable fitness – some uneven ground.
  • Terrain: Mainly gravel paths, with some short sections of footpath that can get muddy after rain.
  • Landscape: Mature woodland along the shoreline of Coniston Water. 
  • Refreshments: The Ship Inn (below), Coniston. 

The Caravan and Motorhome Club make no warranties concerning the accuracy or completeness of the routes published, which to the best of our knowledge were correct at the time of publication. Your use of the routes is at your own risk and we accept no responsibility for the suitability or safety of any routes published. Routes may be out of date or affected by changes to the physical environment and, to the extent permitted by law, we accept no responsibility for personal injury or property damage caused by your use of the routes.

About the author

Coniston Park Coppice Club Campsite


The Black Bull Inn in Coniston boasts it's own micro-brewery, and serves its own home brew beer. This pub is only 1.3 miles away from the site.

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