A Circuit of Coniston
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Going: Tarmac roads all the way. A few ups and downs along the east side of the lake, with a longer climb north of Brantwood. Steep descent follows. Long gradual climb out of Coniston, with a couple of short, steepish stretches. Nothing too special. Gentle climb towards Sunny Bank, followed by a longish descent.
Total distance:
14 miles, from Water Yeat, 15 miles from Blawith, 24 miles from Greenodd.

    For my money, there is no more scenic on-road cycle ride in the immediate (Furness) area than that along the eastern shore of Coniston Water. The distant hills gradually become a wide panorama, while the road rises into native woodlands and then falls all the way to a delightful pebbly shore, only to rise again. This is a popular cycling circuit, and despite a few climbs should be achievable by most.

    There are various possible starting points, and I have in the past begun at Greenodd, to take in the whole of the Crake Valley. I’ll use Water Yeat for the beginning of this description however, as it offers the shortest circle; there’s some parking space here, and also just before at Blawith. Set off down the lane to the right, and the River Crake is soon reached at Bouthrey Bridge, an attractive crossing point over the fast-flowing water. Turn left towards Nibthwaite and the foot of the lake. A glance over the wall just after the last house will reveal a wooden boat-house, which is said to have inspired Arthur Ransome’s ‘Amazon Boathouse’ in his children’s stories. A little further on and Peel Island is passed, which Ransome converted into ‘Wild Cat Island’.

    The woodland whose fringes you will pass through were once home to the charcoal industry, which was used in local iron making, and also the manufacture of gunpowder at Elterwater. The trees were coppiced, cut back on a regular cycle to supply the wood, and frequent evidence of this remains, in the form of a tree stump, with five or six small tree 'trunks' growing out of it.

    Another short rise and Brantwood, John Ruskin’s home for the latter part of his life is reached. Pause here to enjoy the outlook over mountain and lake, which captivated him so strongly. A steep descent is made to the head of the lake, and keeping left, Coniston is soon reached, with numerous possibilities for refreshments. There’s a steady pull up the bank from Coniston, only steep briefly in a couple of places. Just before the Torver village sign, look out for a narrow lane to the left, which offers a pleasant break from the main road. A swift descent down Sunny Bank to the lake shore follows, and then it’s not too far back to Water Yeat.

    This is a ride during which it is a pleasure to linger at any of a dozen places, dallying by the edge of the lake, resting at the top of the bank opposite Coniston village, or savouring the view over Torver to Dow Crag.

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Refreshment possibilities 
    Tea shop at Brantwood.   
    Several pubs, cafes and shops in Coniston.
    Two pubs at Torver.
    Ice cream van by lake shore after Torver at popular times.

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The boatshed just beyond Nibthwaite, at the foot of the lake. Look out for the carved figure nearby too!

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The Yewdale fells from the east side of Coniston Water.

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Brantwood, John Ruskin's home in the latter part of his life.

Links
    Information about Arthur Ransome, author of 'Swallows and Amazons'.
    The Brantwood official web site.
    The Coniston community web site.
    The Ruskin Museum, Coniston

Any comments on the cycling pages would be gratefully received!

 Copyright J Chambers 2005. Unauthorised reproduction not allowed. May be printed for personal use only.

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