Monk Coniston

Lake District

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With a desirable address overlooking Coniston Water (the inspiration for Arthur Ransome’s 1930 novel, Swallows and Amazons), this characterful Grade II-listed house delights with lakeside and woodland walks from the doorstep, décor that stays true to the period feel, and plenty of Beatrix Potter references. While the children's author and illustrator did not live at the Monk Coniston estate (her beloved home was Hill Top, bought in 1905 with the royalties from The Tale of Peter Rabbit), she campaigned with the National Trust to save it from development. She then purchased the entire estate in 1930 and as the new owner she immediately sold half to the organisation, bequeathing them the other half in her will.

Known as Waterhead House and later as Monk Coniston Hall, the Gothic-stye property dates from the 1770s. Successively the home of the Harrison, the Ford, and the Knott families, the 4,000-acre estate was purchased by wealthy Leeds industrialist James Marshall in 1836. Not only did Marshal hugely extend and improve the property, but it was his idea to join three smallish ponds in a boggy valley to create Tarn Hows – now a Lake District classic. He spent much time at Monk Coniston, pursuing his life-long interest in geology and entertaining eminent friends such as Thomas Carlyle, Adam Sedgewick, Alfred Tennyson, John Ruskin, and Lewis Carrol. The house remained in the family thereafter. Leased from the National Trust, it has been part of our HF Holidays line-up since 1945.

Nowadays, it’s the perfect base for exploring beauties such as the Langdale Pikes, Buttermere, Bow Fell, and the Old Man of Coniston. You’ll find a hidden walled garden, a putting green and croquet lawn, ornate public rooms, a converted barn with exposed beams, and a Discovery Point offering a wide range of local area maps, route guides, and easy-to-follow information for self-guided walks. There’s a minstrels’ gallery, a licensed bar, books and games to borrow during your stay, and a dining room for a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. Elsewhere, the house has 30 well-appointed guest rooms in three categories (Classic, Premium, and Superior), extensive gardens, and an arboretum with a collection of conifers – some planted in the early 19th century. In the hallway at the bottom of the main stairs, the large oil canvas of Beatrix Potter painted by her brother, artist Walter Bertram, is a nice touch.

Our Country House: Monk Coniston

Open March to November and during the festive season ● 30 well-appointed guest rooms ● Check in from 4:00pm ● Free on-site parking ● Free Wi-Fi ● Boot room and drying room ● Discovery Point offering a wide range of local area maps, route guides, and information for self-guided walks Books and games to borrow Licenced bar Lounge Garden with putting green and croquet lawn Activity barn

  

Need to know

The safety of our guests, team, and leaders is always top of our list. We will closely align ourselves with the latest government advice and guidance on COVID-19 and implement the best possible hygiene practices across our country houses. We ask that you take sensible precautions to protect other people’s health and would appreciate you informing the house team immediately if you feel unwell. For the latest COVID-19 FAQs, please visit our Coronavirus Travel Advice Page

Rooms

Designed with your comfort in mind, Monk Coniston has 30 well-appointed guest rooms available in three categories: Classic, Premium, and Superior. 

Classic Rooms are comfortable en-suite guest rooms, ideal for a peaceful night's sleep. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, and shower gel), and a 23-inch TV. 

Premium Rooms are more spacious en-suite guest rooms offering upgraded views of the surrounds. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, body lotion, shower gel, shower cap), and a 32-inch TV. Extras include bathrobes, slippers, and comfortable mattresses. Please note that an extra charge of £15 per person per night applies for this room type. 

Superior Rooms are even more spacious en-suite guest rooms offering upgraded views of the surrounds. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee-making facilities, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, body lotion, shower gel, shower cap), and a 32-inch TV. Extras include bathrobes, slippers, and comfortable mattresses. Please note that an extra charge of £25 per person per night applies for this room type. 

We love: The rooms with a garden or lake view. We also love Room 9 on the first floor for its original features and beautiful views across the gardens and fields that slope down to the shores of Coniston Water. 

The Choose Your Room service is available at our UK country houses, allowing you the option of choosing and confirming a specific room for an extra charge of £30 per room. This is subject to availability. Upgrade supplements apply. 

CHECK IN & CHECK OUT 

You are welcome to check in from 4:00pm at the earliest. On arrival, you’ll enjoy a complimentary cream tea and get to meet your fellow guests, our HF Holidays Leaders, and the rest of the friendly team.  

On the day of departure, we kindly ask all guests to check out by 10:00am. You’ll be asked to settle your bill prior to leaving. You may, of course, make a charitable donation to our HF Holidays Pathways Fund if you wish. Please note that we only accept card payments.

About Your Stay

A WARM WELCOME 
We want you to feel comfortable from the moment you arrive. You’ll find a welcome pack in your room with guest registration forms, menus, order forms for dinners and picnic lunches, the Wi-Fi password, and the front door code. Our houses are locked at night, so we recommend noting the Duty Manager’s number on arrival in case of an emergency (or getting locked out). 

EVENING ENTERTAINMENT 
While evening entertainment varies from house to house, the HF Holidays Big Pub Quiz held after dinner on Wednesdays is a weekly staple. Your HF Holidays Leader may be around for tips on guided and self-guided walking routes as well as visit-worthy local attractions. 

WALKS TALKS  
Our HF Holidays Leaders host guided walking information briefings before and after dinner on arrival days. This is followed by a group Walks Talk for information on the following day’s walking delights (usually held before and after dinner, so you can join whenever suits). Self-guided walking guests are, of course, welcome.  

THE WALKING DAY 
Prior to setting off on walks, your HF Holidays Leader will run you through a short safety briefing. There’s also an up-to-date weather forecast on display at the house to ensure you have appropriate clothing and footwear (we recommend anything waterproof enough to keep you dry in a sudden downpour). If you choose to do your own walks or are on a self-guided walking holiday, we ask that you please complete an Independent Walker Card each day. These can be found near the Discovery Point in the house. 

Food & Drink

Led by experienced chefs, we serve a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. We always aim to source the best produce available and use home-grown herbs and vegetables from our own gardens whenever possible. Additionally, we have a licenced bar with beers, soft drinks, and a superb selection of spirits. 

Full-board comes as standard and includes a cream tea on arrival and a hearty breakfast on departure day. Most dietary requirements can be catered for, so please inform us of any food intolerances or allergies at the time of booking. Currently, global challenges such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are directly impacting our food and drink supply chain. We thank you for appreciating that menu descriptions are kept flexible to allow for last-minute changes if needed. 

Accessibility

For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865 or view the accessibility information online for Monk Coniston

What's on?

  • Guided Walking
  • Self-Guided Walking
  • Special Interests
  • Unavailable to Book

Discover Lake District

Local Area

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 Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome. 

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 Steam Yacht 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.

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. 

Blackwell House

Blackwell is a stunning house, completed in 1901 in the Arts & Crafts style. Admire the remarkably preserved interiors, and soak up the beautiful views over Lake Windermere and the Coniston fells

Brantwood House

Just a couple of miles from Monk Coniston, Brantwood House - John Ruskin's former home - commands superb views over the lake. The house's 250-acre estate features 8 distinct gardens which were created by Ruskin with the help of his cousin Joan Severn and head gardener, Sally Beamish.

Tarn Hows

A short walk from the Country House, Tarn Hows is a man-made lake 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. There is an accessible 1.75 mile circular walk around the lake.

Grizedale Forest

Nearby Grizedale Forest is ideal for walking and mountain biking and also has a popular sculpture trail. You can also experience the Go Ape high-ropes course and zip wire – a great option for active teenagers - or explore using a Segway.

Levens Hall

Levens Hall is a beautiful, privately-owned Elizabethan stately home, famous for its magnificent formal garden and having the world's oldest topiary gardens. Levens Hall is near Kendal and can be reached by car in about 50 minutes from Coniston.

Grasmere

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. Grasmere's famous traditional gingerbread shop is also well worth a visit.

Windermere

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

Getting to Monk Coniston

Travel Details

Our address is: Monk Coniston, Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8AQ
Tel: 01539 441566

By train:

The nearest railway station to Monk Coniston is at Windermere. However, the nearest mainline station is Oxenholme which may be more convenient. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.

By taxi:

The 13-mile journey from Windermere railway station takes approximately 30 minutes. You can pre-book a taxi from our recommended taxi company, Ace Taxi. As a guide price the cost in 2022 is £30 per 4-seat taxi. 8-seat taxis are also available at a higher rate. From Oxenholme a pre-booked 4-seat taxi costs £65 for the 26 mile journey. Please pre-book your taxi at least 7 days in advance by contacting:

Ace Taxi*
Tel: +44 (0) 1539 445445
Email: acetaxiwindermere@gmail.com

The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Monk Coniston Manager.
*Ace Taxi is not owned or managed by HF Holidays

By bus:

From Windermere station you can catch the 505 bus direct to Monk Coniston - the bus stop is right outside our country house. The journey time is around 50 minutes. For bus times see www.traveline.info

By car:

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 a 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.