Coniston Water and All Things Literary

We had a glorious day out on Saturday. Avoiding the honeypots in the Lakes, we undertook a tour which included visits to places connected with Arthur Ransome, John Ruskin and W G Collingwood.

These three writers, social thinkers and antiquarians are all connected through their love of the Lake District, and Coniston Water, in particular. W G Collingwood lived at Lane End on Coniston and taught Ransome to boat. He was also secretary to John Ruskin, who lived at Brantwood on Coniston, just up the road from Lane End and Bank Ground Farm, the setting for Ransome's Swallows and Amazons.

Our tour started at Arthur Ransome's final home in the Rusland Valley, Hill Top. Such a lovely, peaceful house in a backwater of the Lake District, where, even on a busy Saturday, we hardly saw a single person or tourist! From Hill Top, we next visited St Paul's Church at Rusland where Ransome, and his wife Evgenia, are buried. Arthur thought the churchyard, green and isolated, and one of the most peaceful places on earth.  He chose to be buried under the Corsican pine, with the sound of the wind in the pine needles.  Standing by his grave and surveying the surrounding countryside, we saw nearly everything Arthur Ransome held dear about this area.

We carried on through the Rusland Valley to Consiton Water where we explored, and enjoyed a spot of lunch, at Bank Ground Farm. Bank Ground Farm was the original setting for Ransome's Swallows and Amazons and, fittingly, where the first Swallows and Amazon's film starring Virginia McKenna, was filmed.
Bank Ground Farm

View from Bank Ground Farm towards Coniston Old Man
Next, we visited Brantwood, the Lakland home of John Ruskin. There is so much to see here, the house and gardens as well as a walk down to Coniston and Gondola. With my newly found appreciation of John Ruskin, I enjoyed exploring Brantwood more than I have ever done before. Mooching round Ruskin's study and, for the first time, understanding and appreciating his thoughts and words was uplifting. Some quotes stayed with me after our visit and many of his thoughts seem to be particularly pertinent in our current time. "To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion, — all in one". His thoughts on wealth and illth have given me much food for thought. Illth is the opposite of wealth, as ill is the opposite of well. Extremely pertinent at the moment where food banks proliferate.
Ruskin's home, Brantwood, on the shore of Coniston

Finally, we completed our tour with a visit to Ruskin and Collingwood's final resting places in the churchyard of St Andrew's in Coniston. The graves are elaborate, the Northumbria crosses designed by W G Collingwood with engravings and emblems covering Ruskin's life and work.
Ruskin's grave stone in Coniston
The Collingwoods' grave stone, near Ruskin's
All in all, a wonderful day which will remain in our memories for a very long time.