What a great sight the steam yacht Gondola is, sailing graciously up and down Conison Water.
She is a rebuild of a steam yacht built in 1859, which in 1860 first took passengers for cruises on Coniston Water. Way back then, you travelled according to your purse, there being three seperate classes.
By 1936 the boat was looking a little run-down and was retired, but was put to use in 1945 onwards as a houseboat. In the early 1960's storms beached it and it sank. I hope all occupants had already fled!!
In the early 70's the yacht was rescued by a group of enthusiasts who rebuilt it to the same design as the original Gondola, managing to retain some of it's original features. It then belonged to the National Trust who re-launched Gondola in 1980.
Today, it is a popular tourist trip, making a circular tour of Coniston Water and calling at the former home of John Ruskin, Brantwood, also owned by the National Trust.
It's a strange fact, but I remember this boat lying beached at the south end of the lake in the very early 70's. My friend's dad helped out at Water Park, an old mansion on the west side of the lake. This is where he pointed Gondola out to us. He later went on to own Water Park, until his death in later years. Little was I to know how famous this wreck of a boat was to become!!!!
Sails from Coniston Pier, daily,(in season) from 11am until 4pm.
Why not admire the scenery of the Lakes from the steepest roads in the UK - the Wrynose and Hardknot Passes which have gradients of 25 and 30%. Our family sized car just made it but it would be easier in a 4 wheel drive vehicle.
This is where Beatrix Potter lived when writing her beautiful books. The house is small, so the actual tour doesn't take too long, but the charm is large. As most children who grew up on her books seeing the garden and house was too cute. The smallish giftshop mostly has children's gifts. I recommend buying the National Trust booklet with a room by room description.
I don't know how excited children would be about coming here, there are some other sights that are more geared towards children and her books around the area. There is usually a wait as timed tickets are used. Plan to wait about an hour.
This was nice to do on a rainy day. The antique steamers were not so nice to travel in, as it was cold and inside you can't see much. The more modern less attractive boats provided better views in a warm inclosed area. We went from Ambleside to Bowness and back.
Coniston Launch is a boat service running up and down Coniston Water, using traditional timber built boats with electric engines!! The boats call at various jetties on the lake, including Brantwood, John Ruskin's home.
There are a variety of services, including an evening cruise where you are allowed to take your own alcohol and enjoy the beauty of the lake on summer evenings. Very popular, this one, so make sure you book!!! There are other runs, of differing lengths, some sailing the entire length of the lake, and theme based trips like Swallows and Amazons. See website for full details.
From Coniston Boating Centre, you can also hire rowing boats and electrically powered ones for char fishing. Quite costly, these!! Also, canoes, sailing dingies, whatever takes your fancy.Here, you will also find the Bluebird cafe, serving light refreshments and you will also want to feed the ducks, geese and swans that are always starving.
Coniston Water is 5 miles long and up to half a mile wide. It is the 3rd largest lake in the Lake District and is probably the second best known, the first being Windermere.
Coniston village nestles at the head of the lake with Coniston Old Man behind, standing 2,635 ft.
Water speed records first took place on Coniston in the 20th century and continued to do so until very recently. Donald Campbell lost his life in the 1960's attempting to beat his own record. He actually reached the incredible speed of 320 mph. in Bluebird before losing control and flipping the boat over. All was lost and his body and boat have just been recovered in 2001 from the lake bed. Divers are still finding odd parts from Bluebird and indeed, when we visited Coniston Water in March 2007, divers were seen in many places.
The lake is a popular place for swimming, boating of all sorts (apart from power boats) wind surfing, fishing, picnicking or even just sitting watching people at play. Electric boats can be hired for the infamous char fishing (an ancient breed of fish specific to Lakeland waters.) There are also many lake shore walks and a series of car parks on the quieter, less popular eastern side, have forest walks leading from them.
Every year, Coniston Water Festival is held, where a series of water based activities take place over a week.
The lake is accessible from both eastern and western sides, but parking is more limited on the major route, the western side, apart from a largish pay and display carpark.
Asked that I don't take pictures instead without signing something - so no pics.
Wonderful place, informed and friendly people. Use their website to learn more about what's inside.
For myself - becoming familiar with the genius of John Ruskin was the draw. And anyone who defends Turner's paintings is a friend in spirit. Learn more about the great man at the museum.
Five miles long, and with a maximum depth of 184 feet, Coniston Water is the third largest of the lakes. An elegant victorian steam yacht is a great way to explore the lake.
It is the oldest steam yacht in the North of England being built in 1859 by the Furness Railway Company.
The trip round the lake starts at Coniston Pier, proceeding anti-clockwise past Coniston Hall (a working farm owned by the National Trust) to Park-a-Moor (no stop). The journey then continues northwards, stopping at Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin from 1871 until his death in 1900. The yacht then travels the short distance across the lake back to Coniston Pier.
For details of operation and timetable check out their website.
This only applies if you want to go camping. Just outside Conniston there is a place called Conniston Hall, this is a large campsite that I highly recomend. The price is cheap and the facilities are good. Next to the camp site is Conniston lake, it has easy access and it looked like quite a large percentage of the people on the site used the lake for water activities...wind surfing etc etc