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Coniston, nestling between Coniston Water and the Coniston Fells, owes its early existence to copper mining and slate quarrying. Today, tourism has usurped the former mining and quarrying industries, and the village’s proximity to dramatic landscapes – lake, mountains, waterfalls, tarns, woods – has given rise to a thriving economy based on walking, sightseeing, water sports, mountaineering, horse riding and the consumption of real ale!

Two spur roads north of Coniston lead to Tilberthwaite where a world of slate opens up. Here, quarrying on an industrial scale has created a distinctive landscape of huge spoil heaps and gaping rock chasms.

Coniston Water is one of the largest lakes in Cumbria at around 5 miles (8 km) long. The lake has long been used as a highway for the transport of copper, iron ores and slate. A relic fish from the Ice Age, the Arctic Char, still inhabits these waters.

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Things to do

Adventure & Outdoor Activities

And so the adventure begins. Add some thrills to your holiday by fully experiencing everything Cumbria has to offer. Walk, run, climb, swim, get muddy, have fun!

Browse Adventure

What's on

 June 2020>
There are a variety of events taking place in Coniston and the surrounding areas over the year. Why dont you check out the calendar and see what's on while you're here?

For events happening around the county, click below for our What's On page.

Food & Drink

Coniston is spoilt for choice with many of its cafes and restaurants having beautiful lake vistas, or are even sited by Lake Coniston itself. How about sitting on a cosy sofa in a Farmhouse tearoom overlooking the lake, or take your coffee, or perhaps something more substantial, on a café terrace, with unrivalled views across the Lake.

Many of the pubs, restaurants and cafes have intimate settings, which are warm and cosy and offer a variety of locally sourced, award-winning foods. There’s everything from Indian food, making a very good choice for vegetarians, to a marvellous selection of traditional pubs with roaring log fires, a warm and friendly service, either in the town itself or in nearby Torver.

The selection of beers are second-to-none, with Coniston having its own local brewery, there is much to try from the Bluebird Bitter to Coniston Old Man Ale.

The Terrace Cafe at Brantwood, Coniston

Portions are often generous without skimping on quality with many eateries being dog-friendly. There’s classy Bistros with beautifully presented inventive cuisine and several of the eating establishments in Coniston aren’t licenced, so you need to BYOB. What better way to enjoy first class food at affordable prices.

Whatever the weather, couples and families will always find somewhere to relax and unwind and enjoy the very best of Cumbrian cuisine and hospitality.

For more information on what Cumbria has to offer see Food and Drink

Culture and Heritage

In the 16th century, rich seams of copper ore were found in Coppermines Valley. With little local mining expertise, German miners were drafted in to work the copper veins. Peak output occurred in the mid 19th century with most of the copper taken to line the hulls of wooden sailing vessels.

Thereafter, falling prices and overseas competition started a gradual decline and eventual closure in 1915. Centuries later, copper mining has left a legacy of abandoned shafts, water courses and open workings that must not be entered.

Much of this area was formerly monastic land owned by Furness Abbey which derived its wealth from sheep farming, and iron ore mining and smelting. One of their estates was at Monk Coniston, now owned by the National Trust.

The local Herdwick sheep, from the Norse for ‘sheep farm', have distinctive grey fleeces and short, sturdy legs. Many Lakeland hill farms continue to farm this old breed as they are particularly suited to the rigours of living on the open fells.

Slate quarrying developed during the 17th century in response to increased demand for building materials, particularly roofing slates. The quarries at Tilberthwaite and on the ‘Old Man' were mined systematically for around 200 years and one or two are still in operation today.

Quarrying and mining were so profitable that in 1859 a railway was built to bring out the copper and slate. In later years, the railway brought the first tourists to the area, but was subsequently closed in 1964.

Early tourists came to marvel at the natural scenery of the area. John Ruskin, the influential 19th century writer and social reformer, also admired the local landscape, declaring that his house, Brantwood on the eastern shore of Coniston Water, had ‘the best view in all of England'.
Pony treking

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