A Weekend in Coniston – James Ibbotson

A Weekend in Coniston – James Ibbotson

Coniston lake is the third largest lake in the Lake District, and is surrounded by lots of the beauties of the national park. So Myself, Kerry, David, and Tamsyn decided to take advantage of the Experience Freedom glamping site situated next to the lake for a weekend getaway. We opted for the glamping cabin, offering a little more space and luxury. 


When we arrived on Friday afternoon we decided it was the perfect opportunity to go for a walk from the site. It was a short walk down to the waterfront where you could see the full length of the lake. The gusty wind meant there were some meaty waves breaking on the bank, not a day for SUPing on there. We continued along the shoreline taking in the beauty of the water and hilly landscape. On our side of the lake was one of the national park’s highest fells, The Old Man of Coniston. Sitting at over 2633 ft high, the fell overlooks the village of Coniston and its waters. Once the cobwebs had been blown away we retreated to the cabin for a cosy night of lasagna and uno!

coniston waters with blue skies above


The next day the wind had relented a little so it was time to explore some water! Recent rains had meant that the rivers were full! Leaving us with an abundance of rivers to choose from for our paddle. Just a 20 minute drive away was the River Duddon, offering a good few miles of grade 2 to 4 water. We started on the lower section, stretching 3.5 miles and cutting through some stunning scenery. This stretch of river provided lots of playful waves and eddylines and made for a brilliant paddle. Once at the bottom we considered our next move. Do we go run the upper section, head to the River Leven, or check out nearby  Skelwith Force falls? 

three kayakers on the river with large hills in the background

We decided it was perfect conditions to run Skelwith Force, so drove back past the glamping site and 15 minutes the opposite direction. The falls are an easy park and play rapid with a public car park right by them. A public footpath walks you along the river and right past it, and a bridge even runs over it just upstream a little. As we scouted the falls we began to draw a crowd, interested to see three kayakers running it. While two ran safety below, one ran the falls. We rotated this so we all had a chance to enjoy the water. Once all down we had some quick fun in the play hole below before jumping off and walking back up to the cars, and back to the cabin.

kayaker running the waterfall at skelwith force

That evening we took a short walk to the local pub for some food. It was great to stretch the legs and sample a few local beers! The view of the stars we got on our walk back was amazing too. It was a clear night, and being in the middle of the Lake District, there was next to no light pollution allowing the stars to shine. 


The clocks sprung forward that night, and Sunday morning was bright and sunny. The perfect weather to hit Coniston lake with the SUP’s. We took advantage of Coniston Boating Centre’s car park and cafe, launching from their beached area. Paddling straight out onto open waters it was idyllic. From the middle of the lake you could see for miles around. Surrounded by fells, mountains, and forests. It was amazing to get out on the water, bask in the sun and take in the beauty of the Lake District. Then afterwards we enjoyed a quick coffee and cream scone at the cafe before starting the drive home. 

a group of people sat on benches next to coniston water with paddle boards in front of them

The Experience Freedom glamping site was a brilliant base for a whitewater paddling, SUPing, and walking weekend. Only a short drive from perfect spots for it all. The Lake District is a real playground for the outdoors, with more hills and mountains to walk, more miles of lakes to explore, and more rivers to tame than you could manage in one holiday. So we will definitely be back!

a paddle board and kayak in front of a glamping cabin