If you are in the Lake District over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend, head over to Coniston Water and experience the pleasure of an old steam cruiser as it whisks you along the majestic waters of Coniston.
On Sunday 18th March 2018 I was lucky enough to travel on the Steam Yacht Gondola’s full lake cruise of Coniston Water whilst the sun was out and the Coniston Water was relatively calm. In any weather, well almost any weather, Gondola will be found circling the waters of Coniston. Hope on and off at several Jetties up and down the Lake, or sit back and enjoy the 1hr45 cruise around the whole lake.
Gondola starts its day at Blue Bird Pier, where I started most of my days with a full English in Blue Bird Cafe down on the Lake shore (given the weather on some of the days I was the only one!!). You don’t have to get on at Blue Bird but given its proximity to Coniston Village, it is a natural starting point.
From there on, Gondola fires up its steam engine and heads on down the Lake. Depending on what cruise you’re on, you will either go to Brentwood (Ruskin’s majestic house set on the Eastern shore), or you will follow the Western shore down to the more secluded and calmer waters of the Southern Lake. So either relax inside, or head out on deck to take in the ever changing scenery.
Once moored at the southern jetty you’ll be able to take in a very different experience of Coniston Water away from the crowds and the majority of the boats, this southern end exists in an almost splendid isolation. The water tends to be more sheltered leading to a more tranquil atmosphere. But don’t venture too far from the boat as you don’t really want to be left all the way down here!! Unless, of course, you want to explore the beautiful views from Torver Common as you walk back north towards Coniston Village!
On your way back north, Gondola hugs the Eastern shore, stopping at Parkamoor Jetty (a perfect place to get off if you want to venture out in the ‘Swallow’s & Amazon’s’ spirit around the surrounding woodland of Peel Island), and then Brantwood. Brantwood is the more usual place to disembark, being able to explore Ruskin’s house and garden, whilst also getting a hot drink or food at the cafe. It is worth a trip if you’ve never been before, the cafe alone offers outside seating with panoramic views of the Lake and the Old Man (a mountain, not a local hermit). Inside, the seating is made from the old horse stables, it certainly is quaint but possesses an enormous amount of charm as well.
The north of the Lake does tend to be less visually appealing, the wind also tends to funnel here so brace yourself a little more than usual. But the top of the Lake offers another Jetty where you can leave to explore Monk Coniston and the beautiful gardens. Or, as you can see from two of my photos, you can follow the road up around the Eastern shore towards Brantwood and take in the view from High Bank Ground. From here you are looking directly towards the Old Man of Coniston, the farm house used in ‘Swallow’s & Amazon’s’, and the private camp site of Pier Cottage. The latter being the place where Donald Campbell left on the morning of January 4 1967 and tragically never returned.
And all this brings you back to Blue Bird where you began.
To find out more here’s a video from Gondola’s website:
I do hope you enjoy your Easter weekend, and if you are in the Lake District that you pop over to Coniston Water.