Quieter Places to Visit Near Coniston & Langdale

The Hidden treasures in and around Coniston and Langdale 

Quieter Places to Visit Near Coniston & Langdale. So you’ve conquered the Old Man looming dramatically over the village. Taken a leisurely stroll around nearby Tarn Hows. Paid your respects at Donald Campbell’s grave – and visited the Bluebird exhibit at the Ruskin Museum. You’ve maybe hiked through the Langdale Valley to marvel at the dramatic Cathedral Cave. And you’ve probably pootled down Coniston Water – perhaps stopping at John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood – on the Victorian steam-powered yacht.

You’re now probably thinking – what next? Well, here are a few of Coniston and Langdale’s lesser-known gems to consider next time you’re staying in the area.

Hodge Close skull reflection

1. Britain’s scariest cave?  

About a mile from Cathedral Cave is spectacular Hodge Close Quarry – an abandoned slate working with an eerie feature.

Popular with abseilers thanks to its sheer rockface, and divers attracted by the underwater tunnels hidden beneath the surface. The reason it’s been dubbed Britain’s scariest cave is because the reflection in the water of the cave opening and the surrounding rocks looks like a terrifying giant skull when you look at it sideways. It’s no wonder the quarry was used as a location in the Netflix series The Witcher.

To visit, park up at the Hodge Close car park and head to the viewpoint for a breathtaking look down into the lagoon – don’t get too close to the edge though; it’s a long way down. 

If you want to take a closer look at the cave, you can walk down to it via a path through the surrounding woodland.

2.  Scramble and swim 

A favourite with wild swimmers in the know, and only a shortish hike from the centre of Coniston, the Coppermines waterfall is a magical little place with a small pool of crystal-clear turquoise water to take the plunge in – the only tricky bit is the final scramble down to it, which is probably why it’s remained a bit of a hidden gem for so long. 

When you’re down there though, surrounded on all sides by the rocks, it really does feel like you’re in a secret hiding place that only you know about.

The best time to visit is early in the morning or at the end of the day when there’s more chance of having it to yourself.

3. What does it all mean? 

In a field near the charming village of Chapel Stile in beautiful Great Langdale – the oldest inhabited place in the Lake District – are a pair of huge ancient boulders inscribed with mysterious prehistoric cup and ring markings.

The Langdale Boulders (Copt Howe) sit surrounded by countryside, the true meaning of their markings are unknown – although it is thought there may be a connection to the Neolithic axe factories that were nearby. 

Now protected by the National Trust as a site of archaeological importance, the boulders are popular with climbers and boulderers who come to practice their techniques, although you’re not allowed to climb on the faces the symbols are on. 

When you’re done standing in the footsteps of our prehistoric ancestors, a visit to the traditional cosiness of the Wainwright’s Inn in Chapel Stile is in order.

4. Bag yourself a Wainwright

Beginning at Yew Tree Tarn (although there are various routes you can take), with views to die for over Coniston Water and the Langdale Pikes from the top, boulders for little adventurers to clamber over, streams to cross and ancient woodland to tramp through on the way, a walk up Holme Fell is the perfect family adventure.

One of Wainwright’s favourites (he wrote that 37 other fells can be seen from the top), its modest height (around 317 metres) and relatively gentle ascent makes it accessible for all ages – though the final pull up to the summit offers a moderate challenge. 

When you get back to Coniston you can reward yourselves for a job well done with a trip to the Black Bull Inn, which sits by a beck in the shadow of the Old Man. They serve hearty food and have their own microbrewery on site, brewing Bluebird Bitter and Old Man Ale.

5. A thing of the past 

If you’re in Coniston between June and November and fancy a morning mooching around the village rather than scrambling up a fellside, make sure you head down to the Coniston Institute on Yewdale Road and check out the Coniston Vintage Summer Shop.

You’ll find around fourteen stalls selling a wide range of antiques and collectables – everything from kitchenalia to vintage toys and games, books and art to clothes and jewellery, vintage tools, to pottery and furniture, with lots more items arriving every day. 

By the time you’re done, you’ll be ready for lunch in one of the numerous cafes, pubs and restaurants dotted around the village, or a trip to the Bluebird Café on the lakeside to enjoy your food with a view over the water.

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