The area surrounding Nibthwaite Grange offers a wealth of attractions from picturesque towns and villages rich in history and culture to spectacular scenery ideal for quiet contemplation or adventurous outdoor activities.
The landscape is the backdrop for Arthur Ransome’s famous novels and is perfect for walking and cycling. Bethacar Moor is criss crossed with tracks and pathways, rewarding you with bracing walks and fine views. At the foot of Coniston you can explore the shoreline with its little bays and running east from the lake, lies the Grizedale Forest.
Coniston village sits at the head of the lake, sheltered in the lea of the Coniston mountain range. Radiating from the stone bridge, spanning Church Beck, the four main streets are a bustling community with a fine church, shops, a post office, cafes, a local brewery and four good pubs. This is a village with much to do, the location perfect for outdoor pursuits; climbing, walking, cycling and water sport holidays. On all points of the compass there are trails, leafy forest paths, tracks and lake shores to explore, and you need travel very little to find a new and exciting landscape.
Coniston Water is one the most people friendly lakes, with much of the shore and the whole lake open to the public. Famous as the backdrop and inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbells’s world speed attempts, its wooded and grassy banks, along with the craggy coves and the deep clear water offer a habitat to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Here pike, trout, perch and ancient char thrive along with swans, heron, ducks, woodpeckers and owls to name a few and recently there has been a re-introduction of red kites. Red squirrels are abundant as are wild red deer and badger, and, perhaps best of all, is the return of otters to Coniston.
At the boating center you can hire rowing boats, sailing dinghies, kayaks and canoes or, small motorboats, perfect for a day out exploring the hidden bays and wooded coves. The Center also hires mountain bikes and electric bikes to help get you around. Still at the Boating Center, you can hop aboard one of the Coniston Launches with regular trips down the lake, stopping at various landing points including Brantwood, home of John Ruskin where, along with the Jumping Jenny restaurant, it makes for a good day out discovering the culture and work of the Pre Raphaelites and the Art Crafts Movement.
The famous Steam yacht ‘Gondola’, a beautifully rebuilt steam powered craft that will transport you back to an era of greater peace and tranquility makes for a romantic treat. The yacht can be hired for large private parties, or maybe splash for just the two of you as a grand gesture. Finally, the lake offers more simple pursuits: fishing, swimming or simply finding a nice spot for a picnic and enjoying a magnificent view.
The Old Man of Coniston stands at 2635 feet and is very popular, offering various well-marked paths to the summit. If you only go part way the view will be spectacular, the pint in the pub on your return all the more delicious. From the village a path takes you deep into the old Coppermines Valley, with its beck and waterfalls. At the head of the valley you carry on to discover the hidden tarns set in the lower slopes of Swirl How. There are plenty of low level walks and cycle trails. On the east side of Coniston water lies Grizedale Forest. A massive working woodland, it is crisscrossed with paths and tracks for walking and mountain biking. The Forest is big into arts, commissioning fabulous statues and installations throughout. It is well worth driving, via Hawkshead, around to the visitor center for a forest map and information to get the best from your day out.