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Coniston Water

coniston water, coniston water lake district
Coniston Water in Cumbria is the third largest lake in the English Lake District It is five miles long by half a mile wide 8 km by 800 m, has a maximum depth of 184 feet 56 m, and covers an area of 189 square miles 49 km2 The lake has an elevation of 143 feet 44 m above sea level It drains to the sea via the River Crake


  • 1 Geography and administration
  • 2 Etymology
  • 3 History
  • 4 Waterspeed record
  • 5 Lady in the Lake
  • 6 Boating
  • 7 In Literature
  • 8 Gallery
  • 9 References
  • 10 External links

Geography and administration

Coniston Water is situated within the boundaries of the historic county of Lancashire Today Coniston Water forms part of the administrative county of Cumbria

Coniston Water is an example of a ribbon lake formed by glaciation The lake sits in a deep U-shaped glaciated valley scoured by a glacier in the surrounding volcanic and limestone rocks during the last ice age

To the north-west of the lake rises the Old Man of Coniston, the highest fell in the Coniston Fells group


" 'The king's estate or village' The 2nd el is OE tūn, and the whole name may, like numerous English Kingstons, be from OE 'cyninges-tūn' Scand influence is, meanwhile, shown by the '-o-' of early and modern spellings, and Ekwall speculated that this could have been the centre of a 'small Scandinavian mountain kingdom' " Plus "OE 'wæter', with the meaning probably influenced by its ON relative 'vatn'" OE=Old English; ON=Old Norse


Remains of agricultural settlements from the Bronze Age have been found near the shores of Coniston Water The Romans mined copper from the fells above the lake A potash kiln and two iron bloomeries show that industrial activity continued in medieval times In the 13th and 14th centuries, Coniston Water was an important source of fish for the monks of Furness Abbey who owned the lake and much of the surrounding land Copper mining continued in the area until the 19th century

The lake was formerly known as "Thurston Water", a name derived from the Old Norse personal name 'Thursteinn' + Old English 'waeter' This name was used as an alternative to Coniston Water until the late 18th century

The Victorian artist and philosopher John Ruskin owned Brantwood House on the eastern shore of the lake, and lived in it from 1872 until his death in 1900 Ruskin is buried in the churchyard in the village of Coniston, at the northern end of the lake His secretary the antiquarian W G Collingwood wrote a historical novel Thorstein of the Mere about the Northmen who settled on the island in the lake

The Victorian and Edwardian artist Henry Robinson Hall settled in Coniston during the Great War and is buried in the parish church graveyard

Arthur Ransome set his children's novel Swallows and Amazons and the sequels Swallowdale, Winter Holiday, Pigeon Post and The Picts and the Martyrs around a fictional lake derived from a combination of Coniston Water and Windermere The fictional lake resembles Windermere, but the surrounding hills and fells resemble those of Coniston Water Some of Coniston Water's islands and other local landmarks can be identified in the novels In particular the books' Wild Cat Island with its secret harbour is based on Peel Island The Amazon River is based on the River Crake The Swallows and Amazons series involve school holiday adventures in the 1930s

Historically, Coniston was part of Lancashire North of the Sands, until Local Government reorganisation in 1974 when Cumbria was created

Waterspeed record

An Ordnance Survey map of Coniston Water from 1925

In the 20th century Coniston Water was the scene of many attempts to break the world water speed record On August 19, 1939, Sir Malcolm Campbell set the record at 14174 miles per hour 228108 km/h or 123168 kn in Blue Bird K4 Between 1956 and 1959 Sir Malcolm's son Donald Campbell set four successive records on the lake in Bluebird K7, a hydroplane

In 1966 Donald Campbell decided that he needed to exceed 300 miles per hour 483 km/h in order to retain the record On January 4, 1967, he achieved a top speed of over 320 miles per hour 515 km/h or 278 kn in Bluebird K7 on the return leg of a record-breaking attempt He then lost control of Bluebird, which somersaulted and crashed, sinking rapidly Campbell was killed instantly on impact when decapitated by the K7's windscreen The attempt could not be counted as a record-breaking run because the second leg was not completed The remains of Bluebird were recovered from the water in 2001 and the majority of Campbell's body was recovered later in the same year

Lady in the Lake

In recent times, Coniston Water has become known for a controversial murder case Mrs Carol Park was dubbed the "Lady in the Lake" after the Raymond Chandler novel of the same name


Kayaker's view of the lake

The lake is ideal for kayaking and canoeing and there are a number of good sites for launching and recovery It is paddled as the second leg of the Three Lakes Challenge The steam yacht Gondola tours the lake in the summer months, along with two smaller motorised launches

Boats can be hired from the lakeside near the steam yacht, with various sizes of boat for hire, from small canoes and kayaks to large personal craft Along with Ullswater and Derwentwater, Coniston Water has a mandatory waterspeed limit of 10 miles per hour 87 kn; 16 km/h This is suspended temporarily for boats attempting new world waterspeed records during Records Week, usually the first week in November

In Literature

Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poem Coniston Water illustrates a plate entitled Coniston Water from Nebthwaite, Lancashire



  • Cumbria portal
  1. ^ "Waterscape – Coniston Water" Waterscape 
  2. ^ Ekwall, Eilert 1922 The place-names of Lancashire Manchester: Chetham Society 
  3. ^ Whaley, Diana 2006 A dictionary of Lake District place-names Nottingham: English Place-Name Society pp lx,423 p80–81 ISBN 0904889726 
  4. ^ Whaley, 2006, p422
  5. ^ "Coniston Copper Mines – Mine Explorer Society" wwwmineexplorerorguk Retrieved 2016-12-26 
  6. ^ "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2009-06-27 Retrieved 2009-03-02  Derivation of the Names of Lake District Lakes and Tarns
  7. ^ http://wwwgeogportacuk/webmap/thelakes/html/west/ws02framhtm West 1784, 'A Map of the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire'
  8. ^ "Vigil for Lady in the Lake killer" BBC News January 28, 2006 
  9. ^ "Coniston Water" Retrieved 20 November 2010 

External links

  • Tourist attractions in Coniston
  • Gondola information
  • Lake District Walks – Coniston Water

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