Southern Lake District Small Hills, Big Views Holiday
Classic walking tour of the Southern Lake District
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Choosing the level of your walks
Our easy grading system shows whether a region offer gentle strolls or more challenging routes to help you choose the right holiday for you. Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we grade our walks 1 to 5 (where 1 is easy and 5 hard). Our challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Get your boots on and your cameras ready! HF Holidays leader Howard Matthewson has put together a fantastic set of walks to showcase the best views in the southern Lake District. All of these walks access some of the areas most photogenic locations and enjoy panoramic vistas from a selection of the area’s lower level hilltops. For a little effort, these walks offer great rewards. The routes take in the fells, lakes, tarns, waterfalls, and villages that have brought visitors to the Lake District since the time of the romantic poets. This is the ultimate ‘grand walking tour’ of the Southern Lake District, one which will generate memories of Lakeland beauty for years to come.
- Share some of Howard’s favourite routes and snap shots of the best of Lakeland’s panoramic vistas
- Visit the honeypot sites of Grasmere, Rydal & Ambleside
- Also enjoy an escape from the crowds and get of the beaten track to tackle some of Lakelands finest smaller peaks
- Enjoy accommodation in the National Trust’s historic Monk Coniston, once owned by Beatrix Potter
- Full board en-suite accommodation, a full programme of walks with all transport to and from the walks, plus evening activities
- Great walking, these walks are relatively easy on effort, big on beauty, and will be lead by experienced HF Holidays leader, Howard.
- Stay at the beautiful National Trust property, Monk Coniston, overlooking Coniston Water
As an historic National Trust property, Monk Coniston is full of romantic, gothic-style charm. With the attractive Lake District setting, it's well suited to a relaxing holiday. Whether it's a walking or activity break you're after, this is a wonderful part of the country to explore your way.
Monk Coniston has 33 bedrooms. Some are located in the main house, with others in the adjoining cottage and counting house.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
Due to the age and the layout of Monk Coniston, it is not recommended for wheelchair users and guests with restricted mobility. There are ground floor en-suite bedrooms in the Counting House, but this building is access via steps.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
Black Fell & Tarn Hows
We start our journey by walking directly from our door at Monk Coniston, and head through charming Yewdale, to eventually reach Yew Tree Farm – once owned by Beatrix Potter and location for the film. We then ascend via Tom Gill waterfalls, to the classically picturesque Tarn Hows. Walking alongside the west side of the tarn, we then head up through Iron Keld, to reach the summit of Black Fell. From there we’re treated to the first of our 360 degree panoramas, with views of lakes and tarns to the south and east, and fells to the west and north. We should get a great view of the Coniston Fells, to the Scafell massif and around to the Langdale Pikes. We descend over open ground from the summit to Oxen Fell Cross and walk on through woodland, to discover the twin falls of Colwith Force. From there, we continue through farmland, to reach Skelwith Force and finish our day at the nearby famed Chesters café in Skelwith Bridge.
7½ miles (12km) with 1,300 feet (400m) of ascent
Lingmoor Fell & Elterwater
Returning to Skelwith Bridge, we pass Skelwith Force again, then head on to pass Elterwater lake, with the classic view of the Langdale Pikes beyond. We reach Elterwater village and head up on the lane which continues towards Little Langdale. On reaching the col in the lane, we turn up onto the hillside past Bield Crag, to ascend Lingmoor Fell. En-route, we pass through a ‘hidden’ valley which abounds with orchids in June. We reach the top of Lingmoor Fell at Brown How, to admire the views from the highest summit of our holiday. Continuing along the ridge, we make our way to the subsidiary rocky peak of Side Pike. This is a fantastic vantage point above the head of Little Langdale, looking straight across at the majestic Langdale Pikes. From there, we descend into Great Langdale, making our way via Side House to the Sticklebarn café/pub at New Dungeon Ghyll, for a well earned drink.
6½ miles (10½km) with 1,550 feet (480m) of ascent
Silver How, Chapel Stile and Grasmere
From the New Dungeon Ghyll, we begin by walking along the valley floor of Great Langdale, an area which has been farmed since Neolithic times. Reaching Chapel Stile, we pass through the village and begin ascending under Raven Crag, onto Dow Bank. Turning northwest, we continue ascending to reach the top of our peak for today, Silver How. From here, there are not only sweeping views of Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes but also across to the Helvellyn range and the west side of the Fairfield Horseshoe. There are lake views of Grasmere and Rydal Water, along with Windermere, seen beyond Loughrigg Tarn. We descend by passing around Lang How and then following the path down to Allan Bank, once home of the poet William Wordsworth. From there, it is a short walk into Grasmere village, where there are numerous sights, pubs and cafés to enjoy.
6 miles (10km) with 1,200 feet (370m) of ascent
Loughrigg Fell & the Coffin Route to Rydal
From Grasmere village we head out the old ‘coffin route’ which takes us up and onto Rydal village. Passing Rydal Mount (the third Wordsworth home we encounter), we go through the churchyard to Dora’s Field and then cross over to Rydal Water. Walking above the lakeshore we head on up to the famous Loughrigg Terrace path, with views of Grasmere lake. Before reaching Red Bank we turn up to ascend to the top of Loughrigg Fell (335m). The summit is another superb vantage point, although diminutive in stature to the surrounding more lofty peaks, the location at the junction of five valleys makes it prime for all your panoramic shots. From the summit, we continue east, then descend to reach Miller Brow and on through Rothay Parkto reach Ambleside, where we should have time to explore.
6½ miles (10½km) with 1,400 feet (430m) of ascent
Orrest Head, Wansfell & Troutbeck
We leave Ambleside through Skelgyll Wood, and take advantage of the viewpoint of Jenkin Crag, to look along the length of Windermere lake and beyond. Our route continues skirting Wansfell, then descends via the Robin Lane to the village of Troutbeck. We head down to Troutbeck Church and then ascend again up to Longmire Road bridleway. Continuing on via Allen Knott, Far and Near Orrest, we eventually reach our final summit of the holiday, at Orrest Head. This is the point that the famous guidebook author Alfred Wainwright first visited in the Lake District. The view inspired him and there is a plaque here dedicated to this moment, showing his panorama sketch of ‘Windermere and the High Fells’. This viewpoint is a fitting end to our South Lakeland exploration, looking over towards where we have toured. It is then only a short walk down to our pick-up point at Windermere Station.
7 miles (11½km) with 1,480 feet (450m) of ascent
Discover the Lake District
Monk Coniston is an imposing Gothic property leased from the National Trust and set in 8 acres of grounds, including a restored walled garden and the impressive arboretum. Some particularly impressive specimens, including a giant sequoia (the largest tree in the world) and the wollemi pine can be explored on the Monk Coniston Tree Trail.
Views from the property offer breathtaking glimpses of Coniston Water and the surrounding mountains.
Coniston village is about one mile away – there is a direct path from the house to the village. Here you’ll find a small supermarket, post office, newsagent, pubs and a Barclays Bank (open 3 times a week). A wider range of facilities is available in Ambleside, the nearest town, about 8 miles away. The Ruskin Museum is also well worth a visit - find out more about the lake's connections to Donald Campbell and Arthur Ramsome. www.ruskinmuseum.com
During your visit to Monk Coniston you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
Steam Yacht Gondola
First cruising Coniston Water 150 years ago, the restored gondola is now operated by the National Trust, stopping at the Monk Coniston jetty at the bottom of the meadow below the house before gliding across the lake, calling at Coniston village and Brantwood House. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/steam-yacht-gondola
Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
Ride ‘L’al Ratty’ a highly scenic narrow gauge railway which runs from the coast at Ravenglass along beautiful Eskdale. You could combine a visit with a walk over Muncaster Fell, or to Stanley Gill waterfall. www.ravenglass-railway.co.uk
Just a couple of miles from Monk Coniston, John Ruskin's former home commands superb views over the lake. www.brantwood.org.uk
A short walk from the Country House, this man-made water was created by Monk Coniston’s resident owner, James Garth Marshall in 1865, as he continued to develop the estate and expand his pleasure grounds. He built a dam to flood the area, amalgamating several smaller tarns, before planting the shores and islands with new woodlands and specimen trees.
Nearby Grizedale Forest is ideal for mountain biking and also has a popular sculpture trail. You can also experience the Go Ape! high-ropes course – a great option for active teenagers. www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedale
Visit this stately home, famous for its magnificent formal garden and topiary displays. www.levenshall.co.uk
Grasmere is about 30 minutes’ drive from Monk Coniston and is famous for its connections with William Wordsworth. The poet’s homes at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount can be visited, the former of which includes the Wordsworth Museum. www.wordsworth.org.uk
Take a cruise along the length of Windermere - England's largest lake. Ferries connect Ambleside in the north to Bowness and Lakeside in the south, where you can connect with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk, www.lakesiderailway.co.uk
Gondola image ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris
Travel to Conistonwater
Our address is: Monk Coniston, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8AQ
The nearest train station is at Windermere. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
The 13 mile journey from Windermere railway station takes approximately 30 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £25. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Monk Coniston Manager.
From Windermere station you can catch the 505 bus direct to Monk Coniston - the bus stop is right outside our Country House. Journey time is around 50 minutes. For bus times see www.traveline.info
From Ambleside take the A593 signposted to Coniston. Turn sharp left over a narrow bridge, then after half a mile turn left onto the B5286, signposted to Hawkshead. About 3 miles along this road, and just before Hawkshead, turn right onto the B5285, signposted to Coniston. Follow this road over Hawkshead Hill. The road descends then goes around a 180° bend to the left. The entrance to Monk Coniston is on the left about 100yds after the bend. There is car parking available within the grounds.
Travelling from overseas
For most guests the most convenient option is to book a flight to Manchester Airport. There are direct trains every hour from Manchester Airport to Oxenholme, change here for Windermere- this is straightforward journey - allow 1½ hours to Oxenholme. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
You can take a taxi from Oxenholme station to Monk Coniston or you may prefer to change trains and continue your journey to Windermere. Please pre book your taxi from Oxenholme as there may not be taxis available at the station.
Flying to London Heathrow airport is another option, but has a longer onward train journey - allow at least 4 hours to reach Oxenholme. From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. Next take the Underground train to London Euston. Finally the main line train from London Euston to Oxenholme takes 2½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.