Car-free and care-free in Coniston

Duration:Full Day

The stunning landscapes around Coniston influenced the lives and work of many of the Lake District's famous artists.

What better way to explore this area than by going car-free and helping to protect this landscape so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. Luckily, Coniston is the perfect place to get away from it all by bus, boot, bike or boat!

My favourite day out starts with a bus ride from Ambleside. The X33 Lakeland Explorer is perfect, because the bus ticket includes 20% off electric car, boat and bike hire at Coniston Boating Centre. Check out the notes under greener travel on the right for more information. The bus stop is right in the centre of Coniston, and here you'll find all you need to start a day of exploring - grab a coffee in a quaint cafe or picnic provisions from the shops.

Coniston Water is just a short stroll from the village, and you'll soon see why so many people find this landscape so inspiring. This is a really magical place for me, because I grew up reading the Swallows and Amazons books written by Arthur Ransome. His mischievous characters had many adventures on this lake, and Ransome himself first learnt to sail here!

If you are a keen sailor yourself, hire a dinghy from Coniston Boating Centre. You can also hire motor boats, canoes and bikes here - check out the National Trust rangers guide for great cycling routes. If, like me, you prefer to sit back and enjoy the journey (hey - I'm on holiday!) then the National Trust Steam Yacht Gondola is a great way to get around.

This elegant boat really captures the style of the Victorian era and it sails from March to November (call 015394 32733 for up to date sailing times). The yacht calls at Brantwood , the former home of philosopher and artist John Ruskin, and at the historic landscaped gardens of Monk Coniston. Monk Coniston was once home to James Garth Marshall, the creator of the world-famous Tarn Hows.

You can hop off the boat here to relax in Monk Coniston gardens (take the tree trail and look out for the exotic conifers) or even take a walk to the iconic Tarn Hows (take Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL7 and a compass). Take the boat back to to Coniston, but don't worry if you'd rather stay on dry land - you can walk back to Coniston village on a well-marked path set back from the B5285 road.

Back in Coniston there are plenty of places for a cup of tea (or a even local ale!) while you wait for the bus at the end of a great day.

Further Information

For more car-free inspiration and to download the FREE See More Lake District App visit

For more walking routes for all around Coniston and the National Park visit Miles Without Stiles

By Sarah Dale

I'm a visitor travel assistant at Nurture Lakeland and I love exploring the Lake District! I'm passionate about protecting this precious landscape, and helping visitors to get out there and get away from it all. I've been looking at ways to get around without the car, and I'll post some ideas for car-free days out on this site.

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How to get here

Coniston, Bus Stop (The Crown Inn)

Tilberthwaite Avenue
LA21 8

Ordnance Survey OL7
The English Lakes
South Eastern area

SD 302 976

Get Directions

Give the car a break and take the bus to Coniston!

The X33 Lakeland Explorer from Ambleside runs on the weekends from May to September, and on weekdays in school summer holidays. Get bus times and ticket offers from

The 505 also runs from Ambleside throughout the year. Visit or call 0871 200 22 33 for all public transport information.

Both services arrive and leave from The Crown Inn Bus Stop in the village centre