Coniston Water, England, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - England - England's Northwest -

Also known as:  Conison Lake, Coniston, Thurston Water, The Lake District

Coniston Water is in England’s Lake District, its spectacular landscapes making it an impressive tourist attraction in its own right. However, Coniston Water has an infamous history that makes it an even more interesting holiday location: Several water-based speed records were set and broken here during the 20th century. Most notably, Sir Malcolm Campbell set a speed record in 1939 in his Bluebird K4 speedboat. Campbell’s son, Donald, also set his own records during the late 1950s in his Bluebird K7, a hydroplane. In 1967, Donald Campbell tried to beat his own record, which he did–and then lost control of his hydroplane and crashed. He died during the accident and his body was not recovered until 2001, when both his remains and the Bluebird K7 were raised from Coniston Water.

Coniston Water, which is a glacial ribbon lake 5 miles (8 kilometers) long and 0.5 miles (800 meters) wide in Cumbria, England, is one of 80 bodies of water in the Lake District, located in Lake District National Park. Coniston Water is in the top five in overall lake size in the Lake District, which is found entirely in Cumbria in northwest England, one of the few mountainous regions.

Coniston Water, which was also referred to as Thurston Water until the Victorian age, has had other moments in the spotlight. “Swallows and Amazons,” a beloved children’s book by Arthur Ransome, was written with Coniston Water as its setting. John Ruskin, a 19th-century artist and poet, owned a home on the lake’s east shore. Brantwood, as its known, was built in what’s considered to be the best location for lake views on Coniston Water. Brantwood is now a well-maintained museum dedicated to Ruskin, his life and possessions and his influence on social thinking.

The lake contains plentiful species of fish, which inspire many anglers to travel here for holidays. Trout, char, perch, eel and large pike are all on the checklist for this lake. For fishing on the water, a boating rental center is situated close to Coniston village. The large lake contains only five islands, which may be one of the reasons it is popular for speedboating–a lack of obstacles to avoid.

An 1859 steam yacht makes scheduled trips around the northern section of the lake. This yacht takes up to 86 passengers per cruise, all of which can experience the Victorian opulence of the boat’s decor and construction, inside and out. This boat is called the Gondola; it blends the look of the Venetian gondola with the technology of the Victorian era–steam engines. Although this vessel was in action on Coniston Water from its debut until the 1960s, it was seriously damaged during a storm in that decade. Eventually it was renovated and rededicated in 1980, and has been in operation every year since.

Coniston village is a small village that was once centered on the mining industry, which has since become defunct. The village, at the foot of the Old Man of Coniston, has become in recent years a center for hikers and mountain climbers. Lodging is available there, including bed and breakfasts, inns and holiday homes. Shops and restaurants make it a true vacation village for those staying the area. West of the village of Coniston is the Old Man of Coniston, the tallest member of the Coniston Fells group at 2,635 feet (803 meters). Travelers flock to this natural observation viewpoint, which has incredible panoramic views at its peak. On the ground near Coniston Water, the Old Man of Coniston draws the eye as it dominates the area. It is an impressive sight and conveys stoic beauty.

Amateur archaeologists and biologists also visit the area around Coniston Water. Copper mines and stone and slate quarries once thrived here, especially in the land between the water’s edge and the Old Man of Coniston. Trilobites and brachiopods are some common fossils that seekers sometimes find in the region, so collectors frequent the area. Bronze Age tools and remains have been found in the area near the copper mines, so there is always the possibility of finding something of real interest and importance that lures fossil and treasure hunters to the old quarries and mines. There is evidence that copper was mined in the vicinity as early as Roman times.

Swimming and diving in Coniston Water are always popular in the warmer months. Canoeing, kayaking and abseiling (rappelling) are some other boating activities that bring out families who are looking for relaxation and fun. Mountain biking and cycling the trails allow the riders to see more of the area than walking does, and the diverse levels of riding difficulty offer something for everyone. Pony trekking is enjoyed here, as is horse riding, camping, caravanning, orienteering and–for the truly brave–gorge climbing.
East of the lake is Grizedale Forest. This area is also known for its majestic views and breathtaking scenery. Indeed, the whole area around Coniston Water is picturesque, with meandering streams, babbling brooks, wooded hillsides and fields of wildflowers in the summer months. Tarn Hows, only a short walk northeast of Coniston, is sought after for its lovely walks along the water’s edge, as well as its spectacular views of rolling mountains. In 1965, this artificial lake was named a Site of Scientific Interest in the United Kingdom. Beatrix Potter once owned the land on which this tarn is found; the National Trust manages the area today and has been making improvements in order to encourage tourism without damaging the natural surroundings. Those looking for a challenging climb are drawn to Dow Crag. This vertical wall is 600 feet (183 meters) high and engages many fearless and tenacious climbers every year.

Bungalows, apartments, self-catering cottages, single-family homes and renovated villas are all available for vacation rentals for the individual, couple, family or group looking to book accommodations in this area. Whether travelers prefer a lakeside cottage in the hub of activity or a rustic log cabin in a quiet wooded area, their wishes can be granted in this lovely area surrounding Coniston Water.

Things to do at Coniston Water

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Coniston Water

  • Char
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout

Coniston Water Photo Gallery

Coniston Water Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,210 acres

Shoreline Length: 13 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 143 feet

Average Depth: 79 feet

Maximum Depth: 184 feet

Water Volume: 91,854 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 340 days

Lake Area-Population: 3,500

Trophic State: Meso-oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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