The third-largest lake in the English Lake District doesn’t fail to impress; at 5 miles (8 km) long, 184 feet (56 m) deep and half a mile (0.8 km) wide, it has been a favorite of kayak and canoe aficionados for several decades now and continues to entice visitors seeking stunning scenery and a feel for the much-hyped Lake District. Once the main fish source for the monks of Furness Abbey in the 13th century, it is now the home of the elegant, Victorian-era steam yacht Gondola, which sails from one end of the lake to the other between March and November.
Around the lake, there are three main villages, Coniston, Brantwood and Hawkshead, where visitors can sleep, eat, drink and shop as they please. Hawkshead is particularly lovely and easy to explore on foot, featuring charming cobble lanes and the fan-favorite Beatrix Potter Gallery.
Coniston Water has been depicted several times in fiction, with its most famous mention in Arthur Ransome’s novel Swallows and Amazons. The lake also received major international and local press during the 20th century because of the role it played in many water-speed world-record attempts. The record was finally set on August 19, 1939, by Sir Malcom Campbell. His son, Donald, subsequently tried to achieve the mind-boggling 300-miles-per-hour record in 1967 but was tragically killed on the second leg of his attempt. The Ruskin Museum in Brantwood features a complete exhibition on the event.
Bicycles; motor, sailing and rowing boats; canoes; and kayaks are available for hire at Coniston Boating Centre. Trekking is also a popular activity among visitors, as the lake is surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery, including the famed Old Man of Coniston.
Coniston Water is located in the south of Lake District National Park and can be reached from Liverpool and Manchester by car in two hours via the M6, the A590 and the A592.