Monday, 14 February 2011

Coniston Water

All I knew about Coniston Water was that world speed record holder Donald Campbell met his end there in 1967 in the Bluebird.  A long, straight and fairly narrow strip of water, Coniston is the third biggest lake in the English Lake District, at five miles (8 km) long and only half a mile (800 m) at the widest point.  It is also one of the deepest, at 184 feet (56 m).  Sheltered from prevailing winds by mountains, the lake is dominated by an impressive peak called the ‘Old Man of Coniston’.

Perfect flat water

We arrived early and had the entire lake to ourselves and paid a couple of pounds to launch from the main shingle ‘beach’.  We headed up to the end where Campbell and his jet boat were recovered - as recently as 2000 after years of searching by divers.  Early in the morning Coniston is the most sheltered and peaceful lake I have ever kayaked, although it does get busier in the season once the pleasure boats start up.

Ruskin’s House at Brantwood

Famous Victorian John Ruskin’s house marks the mid way point as you paddle along the length of the lake.  Ruskin had a jetty built and used a rowing boat of his own design on the lake (it wasn’t a very good design, so he called it the ‘Jumping Jenny’ and it can still be seen in his boathouse).

Yachts and boats

It is a long lake so by the time you get to near the top the sailing yachts and pleasure boats are probably running. They are quite fast so you need to keep a look out, but quite interesting as one is an original Victorian Gondola, first launched in 1859 and restored by the National Trust.  We planned to arrive back at our launch site before lunch, as Coniston village has some good pubs and shops, so we saved going right to the top for next time.  We will definitely go back as it is one of my favorite lakes. 

Me on Coniston Water with the 'Old Man' in the background

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