This is Coniston Water, a beautiful and peaceful place.
Five miles long and half a mile wide and up to 180 feet deep. It is not far away and is somewhere I go often.
The lake and the surrounding area is now tranquil but it was not always that way.
In years gone by the area was one of high activity for it was a major centre for the extraction of both copper ore and slate. Locals say gold was found here too and some still scour the old copper workings in the hope of finding a nugget, perhaps two! There was a railway as well, built to transport materials into and out of the nearby village. Long since closed, the route of the railway can still be traced as it now forms both a walking and a cycle path from which visitors can marvel at the wonderful scenery all around.
Coniston, the land of Ransome, Ruskin, Wainwright and Campbell
Coniston Water provided inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s famous children’s book ‘Swallows and Amazons’, the southern island, Peel, has been identified as the ‘Wild Cat Island’ in Ransome’s book.
The literary connection extends further for the lake is dominated by The Old Man of Coniston which rises to 803 metres (2,635 feet) and offers excellent views from its summit. The fell is a favourite with hill walkers and lies to the west of the village. The Old Man of Coniston is the inspiration for Kanchenjunga, the mountain in ‘Swallows and Amazons’.
I aim to climb ‘Old Man‘ sometime but not today.
Although beautiful, the area is also tinged with sadness as it was here, on 4 January 1967, that Donald Campbell was killed attempting to set a new water speed record in his boat Bluebird.
If you are interested, there is a museum in Coniston village where you can learn all about Ransome and Campbell along with the author Alfred Wainwright and John Ruskin the 19th century social revolutionary.
Strange to think that I am now near to a centre famous for the works of Ruskin and, as a child, I lived close to where he lived in London and where, to this day, there is a park named after him.
As it is often said, ‘life is a circle’.
Until the next time.
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