MORE THAN 50 years ago Donald Campbell was setting his numerous breath-taking world water speed records on Coniston Water in the Lake District.

The annual landmark campaigns he held became a fixture in the calendar of admirers and news reporters as he set up an HQ in the village which has long been a tourist hotspot.

Streaking across the lake at more than 250mph it was a sight to behold but tragedy struck in January 1967 when his Bluebird K7 craft crashed.

The record-breaker was salvaged in 2000 and Mr Campbell's body recovered the following year and buried in the parish church.

Bluebird has undergone a decade of restoration by engineer Bill Smith back to operating condition and could one day be the star exhibit at a purpose-built extension at the Ruskin Museum.

The famous boat has inspired everything from a one-time champion beer of Britain brewed in the village and artwork and shop names but there's more to the area with fantastic landscapes to explore on foot, bicycle or boat, food and drink, heritage and culture.

Now as lockdown restrictions are eased Coniston is once again gearing up to welcome visitors and there would be no finer place to celebrate getting back onto the fells than one of the holidays cottages in the Coppermines group.

We stayed in Fairsnape House, set in a commanding position above the village and overlooking the lake and Grizedale Forest on the fells opposite.

When we were there before the lockdown it was part of Coppermines' larger offering but is now no longer with the group and is one to watch out for on the internet in the future.

Fairsnape is a 17th Century cottage at its heart with traditional beams and locally-sourced slate that has been extended over the years and now re-built to accommodate 12 and offer up-to-the-minute designs on luxury. For a large group of family or friends, it is one the properties suited for a long-awaited get-together and to mark a special occasion in style.

It has the Old Man of Coniston mountain to its back and indeed it almost feels like the hills sweep through the site with woods, wildflowers and streams surrounding the house as it nestles into the hillside.

Fairsnape is not short of impressive views and its six en-suite bedrooms, each have picture windows – the best of the best also boast glazed gables and balconies to bring the outside in so you can immerse yourself in classic Lakes vistas.

Another way to immerse yourself would be to take advantage of the super-sized hot tub in the garden which seats eight, surrounded by the mature trees and shrubs.

The bedrooms have their own luxuriously-appointed bathrooms with generous-sized baths, waterfall showers and floor to ceiling marble tiles.

Concerned that they might be cold on your feet? You needn't worry as the top spec of the house includes under-floor heating which is adjustable in every room thanks to Nest thermostats.

As you would expect the kitchen is also well-appointed – doubling up on ovens, fridges and even dishwashers to make meals on the huge dining table a winner.

If you fancy eating al fresco there are tables on the patio and picnic spots in the grounds but you can just do what we did and open up the full-retractable glass sliding doors opening out onto the extensive front terrace giving you the feeling of eating out while still in.

You can't guarantee good weather in the Lakes, of course, and Fairsnape is a comfortable place to wait out a shower or two, especially the sitting room with its open log fire and sumptuous leather sofas to curl up on. All it needs are some board games and you would be well set to ride out any storm.

Outside though is where the area scores highly and we explored the village, lakeside and some of the beautiful surrounding fells on our walks. Fairsnape's elevated position helps with the views, of course, but it does mean a short but steep climb back up to it by foot or on two or four wheels.

Enquiries in regards to bookings for Coppermines cottages can be made via the company's email address below.

There are numerous attractions in the area from the aforementioned Ruskin Museum which, amongst other things, celebrates the life of John Ruskin, the celebrated Victorian writer, artist and early conservationist who lived nearby at Brantwood, now also a museum.

It also celebrates local culture and history, Campbell and Bluebird and author Arthur Ransome, Leeds-born but who was inspired by holidays in the area to write Swallows and Amazons.

If you want to take to the water yourself then you can cruise on the lake with the regular ferry services or take a trip back in time on the National Trust's steam yacht Gondola.

The Coppermines Lakes Cottages portfolio boasts a range of fantastic holiday lets to suit all interests, size of group and budget. There are rustic snug cottages for two, cottages by the water, out in the fells or close the pub.

Started by Philip Johnston with the restoration of buildings in the historic Coppermines mining valley, the company now has nearly 100 hand-picked, unique, self-catering Lake District cottages on its books.

Coniston these days is a more tranquil place but with plans mooted to bring a restored Bluebird back to the village in time for the centenary of Donald Campbell's birth in March 2021, you could not hope to base yourself in a more ideal spot than Fairsnape to take advantage of all that the area has to offer now that tourism is the area is getting back up to top speed.


Coppermines Lakes Cottages - email for the latest details of availability

Cumbria Tourism -

Ruskin Museum -