Coniston Water (usually simply called Coniston locally) in Cumbria, England is the third largest lake in the English Lake District. It is five miles (8 km) long, half a mile (800 m) wide, has a maximum depth of 184 feet (56 m), and covers an area of 1.89 square miles (4.9 km²). The lake has an elevation of 143 feet (44 m) above sea level. It drains to the sea via the River Crake.
To the north-west of the lake rises the Old Man of Coniston, the highest fell in the Coniston fells group. Coniston holds one of the oldest rocks in the world
Remains of agricultural settlements from the Bronze Age have been found near the shores of Coniston Water. The Romans mined copper from the fells above the lake, and a potash kiln and two iron bloomeries show that industrial activity continued in medieval times. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Coniston Water was an important source of fish for the monks of Furness Abbey who owned the lake and much of the surrounding land. Copper mining continued in the area until the 19th century.
The lake was also known by the alternative name of Thorstein's Water, being named after the Norse invader who took up residence int valley and claimed the lakebed. This name was used up until the late 18th century.
The Victorian artist and philosopher John Ruskin owned Brantwood house on the eastern shore of the lake, and lived in it from 1872 until his death in 1900. Ruskin is buried in the churchyard in the village of Coniston, at the north end of the lake.
Arthur Ransome set his children's novel Swallows and Amazons and some of its sequels on a fictional lake, but drew much of his inspiration from Coniston Water. Some of Coniston Water's islands and other local landmarks can be identified in the novel. In particular, Peel Island is the Wild Cat Island of the book including the secret harbour.
Historically, Coniston was part of Lancashire, North of the Sands, until Local Government reorganisation in 1974 when Cumbria was created.
In 1966 Donald Campbell decided that he needed to exceed 300 miles per hour (483 km/h) in order to retain the record. On January 4 1967 he achieved a top speed of over 320 miles per hour (515 km/h) in Bluebird K7 on the return leg of a record-breaking attempt. He then lost control of Bluebird, which somersaulted and crashed, sinking rapidly. Campbell was killed instantly on impact. The attempt could not be counted as a record-breaking run because the second leg was not completed. The remains of Bluebird and Campbell's body were recovered from the water in 2001.
Boats can be hired from the lakeside near the steam yacht, with various sizes of boat for hire, from small canoes and kayaks to large personal craft.