From climbing the Old Man to a having afternoon tea on a steam powered yacht, there are plenty of adventurous things to do around Torver and Coniston. Here are some ideas for first-time visitors, recommended by staff and guests at the Church House Inn.
Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the Lake District, is just a short walk away from Torver village. Here's our guide to a lovely lakeside walk starting in Coniston and ending here at the Church House. The lake is five miles long with woodland scenery on both shores. It's one of the best boating lakes in the whole of the national park and you can rent motor boats, rowing boats, paddle boards and canoes, from Coniston Boating Centre.
Or, if you'd rather do it like the Victorians, there's the Steam Yacht Gondola. This re-built Victorian steam powered yacht, run by the National Trust, sails from Coniston Pier four times a day from 1st April to 31st October. Further information and timetables here.
You can carry on in the Victorian fashion with a trip to Brantwood, which can be reached by boat or steam yacht from Coniston Launch. Brantwood reflects the brilliant mind of its former owner, 19th century thinker and polymath John Ruskin. It's mountainside gardens and 250 acre wood estate sprawl from the shores of Coniston Water making it a great spot to enjoy the natural world that Ruskin was so passionate about. There are hiking trails through the woodland, the house and gardens to explore, and, of course, a cafe for that obligatory scone and cuppa.
The Old Man
The Old Man of Coniston is one of the most iconic mountains in the Lake District and, with its well-trodden ascent from the village, is a great introduction to the Cumbrian Mountains. Here's our guide to a circular walking route that takes in the mountain, mine ruins and Goat Tarn. At just over 800m high, the Old Man is one of the Lake District's more manageable mountains whilst still presenting a good challenge. You'll get excellent views of surrounding peaks and can see right out to Morecambe Bay on a clear day.
If you'd like to delve deeper into Coniston's history and local characters, we heartily recommend the Ruskin Museum. The curators are great storytellers and bring the area to life through tales ranging from early settlers and copper mines to the real-life locations in Swallows & Amazons. The Rough Guide book calls it 'superb', we call it 'gurt barrie!'. Location and further information on their website.
Grizedale Forest Park is an extensive woodland and outdoor activity hub to the east of Coniston Water. The forest is home to a Go Ape treetop adventure as well as a celebrated sculpture park. At the Visitor Centre you can rent mountain bikes and pick up maps for walking and biking trails. The park is great for a family day out and free to explore. There are often extra activities scheduled such as star gazing and tree identification walks. More info here.