Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
Graham Clark
Features Writer
11:48 AM 27th January 2021

Light At The End Of The Tunnel - Coppermines Cottages In The Lake District

The Coppermines Valley with Old Man of Coniston in distance
The Coppermines Valley with Old Man of Coniston in distance
It is not just we humans who will be getting a shot in the arm within the next few months. With foreign travel this year being a bit of a gamble and the need to become more flexible it looks like the domestic holiday market will indeed get a welcome shot in the arm too this year.

We are fortunate to have many places of outstanding beauty within an hour or so drive away. The Lake District had one of its best summers last year for tourists. Families young and old that would have probably been on a flight to the Mediterranean decided instead to head to one of our own places in the sun. Admittedly it might not be sunny most of the time, but when the sun does decide to shine the Lake District is up there with the best of them.

The Coppermines Valley from the Old Man of Coniston
The Coppermines Valley from the Old Man of Coniston
When someone mentions self-catering it always conjures up images of scantly furnished accommodation that is in need of refurbishment. Lake District Cottages have an outstanding portfolio of 90 holiday cottages spread across the Lake District and surprised me with the quality and standard of the accommodation.

Apparently there are properties that can comfortably accommodate up to 22 people and they even have a licence to hold civil wedding ceremonies.

For pet lovers there is a large selection of pet friendly cottages which meant that we didn’t have to put CoCo, my partner's Beagle into kennels - mind you after walking up the Old Man of Coniston, CoCo might have wished she had been at the kennel!

The Coppermines Cottages
The Coppermines Cottages
Just a mile above Coniston village sits the awe-inspiring Coppermines Valley, part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Copper was extracted on the site up to the 1950’s. In the following years the buildings and sawmill stood derelict until 1990 when the buildings were turned into holiday cottages with the construction of the waterwheel finished in 2019.

As we drove up the road from Coniston the track became rougher (little changed from when mining took place) until we arrived in the valley proper. As the Old Man of Coniston stood 2,635 feet tall and proud to the left, the mountain streams and crags gave it an almost Alpine feeling.

The living room in the Pelton Wheel Cottage
The living room in the Pelton Wheel Cottage
There stood at the head of the valley was our home for the next few days, nestled away ever so snugly. The cottages can be combined together ingeniously for families or groups. As the 32 feet waterwheel turned this time it was more for decoration rather than cutting up timber for the mining company as it did in the 1800s.

The Pelton Wheel cottage has oil fired central heating, a log fire (with a complimentary bag of logs to use during our stay), a well equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, hob oven, microwave, toaster, kettle and a washing machine. The small sitting room had a small TV with the old mining photos on the wall giving it an authentic feel. Add to that two en-suite bedrooms and you really do have all you need for your time away.

The path up the Old Man of Coniston
The path up the Old Man of Coniston
I was surprised the free Wi-Fi worked as quickly as it did, we are not talking rocket speeds here but it was adequate for our needs. The hot tub outside, heated to 38 degrees c was most welcome for resting aching muscles - after the trek up to the top of the Old Man of Coniston!

The Old Man looks down on the cottages goading you to climb his lofty heights. Even on a midweek walk it was far busier than I expected. It has to be said that it is not a climb for everyone, though anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to make it up to Low Water, 3/4 of the way up. The remaining ascent though requires a good footing. From the top you are rewarded on a clear day of the Isle of Man to the west, Ingleborough to the south east and through binoculars Blackpool Tower due south.

After all that walking we didn’t feel like cooking. We were recommended the newly refurbished Coniston Inn just outside the centre of the village. Situated on the shores of Lake Coniston with views across to the fells the Inn has been given a complete makeover from when it was the Waterhead Hotel.

The rooms too have been modernised with the mountain view rooms taking in views of the Old Man of Coniston and Dow Crag, whilst the lakeside view rooms indeed look across the lake to Grisdale Forest. There are dog-friendly rooms available too.

As soon as you walk through the door it feels like a warm and welcoming place and somewhere you don’t want to leave in a hurry. Naturally with being dog friendly CoCo was given a bowl of water and a treat so that she didn’t miss out!

The extensive menu ranged from traditional mains such as Fish and Chips, Cumberland Sausage and Mash, Persian Lamb, steaks, burgers to desserts such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Strawberry and Cream Baileys Blitz.

My Coniston Inn Burger was juicy and wholesome with a slice of mature cheddar sitting on top as proudly as we did when we reached the top of our hike up the Old Man.

Pan fried Sea Bass fillet
Pan fried Sea Bass fillet
My partner’s Pan Fried Sea Bass Fillet came with green beans, parmentier potato, spring onion and lemon butter sauce. The fish had a mild delicate taste with a subtle sweetness that didn’t disappoint.

After having burnt off the calories earlier the Sticky Toffee Pudding was a temptation I could not resist. Moist and sweet and with a view outside to inspire any restless soul it was indeed a recommendation that was spot on.

Prompt and friendly service added to the experience that rounded off a perfect day.

As we drove back to our cottage the clear, a light pollution-free night sky gave way to a myriad of stars above - now that’s something you don’t get in the Mediterranean!

The Coppermines Lakes Cottages, The Bridge, Coniston LA21 8HJ
Telephone 015394 41765

The Coniston Inn, Hawkshead Road, Coniston, LA21 8AJ
Telephone 0191 580 3610