A paradise of
art & nature
A paradise of art & nature
The historic home of John Ruksin
Discover the world of John Ruskin at Brantwood, a historic house and vibrant centre for the arts on the shores of Coniston Water. Explore the character of its famous resident through displays and activities in the house, gardens, and estate.
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Immerse yourself in the world of John Ruskin, the famous writer, artist and social reformer. Discover his legacy through displays and activities in the house, gardens and estate.
Explore the stunning 250-acre estate, featuring eight unique gardens created by Ruskin, his cousin Joan Severn, and head gardener Sally Beamish. The gardens offer breathtaking views across Coniston Water to the fells and are divided into three areas – the northern and southern gardens which involve some uphill walking, and the lower gardens which are suitable for all.
Activities for all ages are available, including exploring the gardens and woodland trails, connecting with the landscape through observation and art, and learning about Ruskin’s fascinating life and legacy. Don’t forget to try out the Terrace and enjoy one of the finest café views in the Lakes.
Dogs are welcome on a lead in our gardens and the Terrace Cafe. Come and experience the beauty of Brantwood in all seasons.
‘Brant’ is old norse for steep, and so our gardens and woodland have varying levels of gradient, appropriate footwear for a walk in the countryside is recommended.
Seasonal Opening Hours
Brantwood is open every day during summer and Wednesday to Sunday during winter, also closing on Christmas & Boxing Day.
Brantwood has a number of services and facilities available for disabled visitors throughout both the house and some of the gardens.
To find out more about the about access throughout the house and gardens visit the Disabled Access page for full details.
The Gardens at Brantwood
Welcome to Brantwood’s gardens, to ensure the safety of all staff and visitors please make sure to follow all instructions and signage during your visit.
From the car park there are entrances to the upper gardens and on the other side of the road to the harbour walk . We have designed two routes into the upper gardens, on the one hand is the Ruskin route – a steeper route beginning from the zig-zaggy up the purgatorial mount, and the gentler Severn route starting from the maple walk.
Delve into some of our Garden’s below ….
The Lower Gardens
The lower garden’s perform an important task at Brantwood and always have as they connect the house to the lake. The lake was both an important utility and amenity in Ruskin’s time. It was Ruskin’s cousin Joan Severn who created the harbour walk which is a pleasant and gentle way down to the lake.
The most important garden Ruskin created at Brantwood, designed as an entrance to the whole estate. It is a mythological garden based on Dante’s Divine Comedy which Ruskin admired hugely. Particularly based on the idea of the Purgatorial Mount on the passage of the soul to paradise. Paradise for Ruskin was a state where man and nature are working in harmony with one another; in order to do that you first had to get rid of your worldly sins hence each of the terraces of the Zig-Zaggy are designed to represent one of the seven deadly sins.
The High Walk
This spectacular and genteel garden was situated to provide a vista across the lake to the Old Man of Coniston, providing easy access to some of the greatest scenery of the Lake District. Having been lost for a century after the death of it’s creator Joan Severn, the rediscovery of this garden in the 1990s changed both the character and balance of the gardens at Brantwood, providing an elegant contrast to Ruskin’s more wild style of garden.
The Professors’ Garden
The Professors’ Garden was a working garden and the one most likely for Ruskin to be found in. The limited area provided a place of tranquillity and peace of which he desperately needed as well as an opportunity to experiment with the cultivation and display of wild, ornamental and edible plants. The garden was planned and managed by Ruskin and is the place where he grew flowers, fruits and herbs suitable for a local cottager’s garden – arranging them in such a way to provide examples of the cultivation of food for the soul, as well as the bodies, of the local labourers.
Food & Drink
At the Terrace Coffee House & Restaurant you can expect friendly, attentive staff, delicious home cooked food and a view that never fails to amaze. Not your usual coffee shop; you’ll always find something a bit different on the menu to tempt your palate. Alongside the seasonal lunch menu (served 12 – 3pm) you’ll find scrumptious rustic desserts & beautiful cakes and treats for those who need that mid-afternoon tea break.
All food is prepared on site to order every day, so why not drop by for a bite to eat or relax over a cup of excellent coffee. Click here for more information.
Arrive in style
Brantwood’s gardens stretch as far as the lake shore, to the harbour Ruskin built, from which you can catch the Coniston Launch or Steam Yacht Gondola. This has to be one of the best ways to arrive at Brantwood.
Steam Yacht Gondola
Float back in time and enjoy Coniston Water as the wealthy Victorians once did, travelling in style in Gondola’s opulent saloons or relaxing on her open air decks and taking in the spectacular scenery. What better way to get to Brantwood. Gondola has a luxurious ambience recreating the atmosphere of a bygone era. The interior of the boat is divided into two saloons reflecting Victorian trains from the Furness Railway: a first class saloon with luxuriously upholstered seating and a ‘third’ class saloon with a rich mahogany ceiling and leather upholstery. See the national trust website for more details
The very best way to approach Brantwood is from the Lake, and the two launches provide an hourly northern cruise service from Coniston and an hourly yellow route cruise service to Brantwood. Discounted tickets are also available from the launches for entry to the house and gardens – bookable online from the coniston launch website.
Directions to Brantwood
By Car – Exit the M6 at Junction 36. Join the A590 in the direction of Kendal. Exit at the Brettargh Holt junction. At the roundabout take the 1st exit signposted for Barrow-in-Furness. Continue to follow the signs for Barrow-in-Furness. At the Meathop roundabout take the second junction exit towards Barrow-in-Furness. At the next roundabout (junction with A592) take the first exit continuing on the A590. Turn right onto the A5902 signposted for Workington, Whitehaven. Turn right onto the A5084 signposted for Coniston. Turn right onto the A593 inTorver. Follow the signs for Brantwood from the village of Coniston. FREE PARKING ON SITE.
By Bus – Take the 505 from Windermere or Ambleside to Coniston and catch either the Coniston Launch or SY Gondola to Brantwood.
By Boat – Both the Coniston Launch and SY Gondola call regularly at Brantwood’s jetty.
By Train – The nearest train stations are Windermere (trains to Oxenholme on the West Coast Main Line) and Ulverston.
By Bicycle or by Foot – Brantwood and it’s facilities make an ideal visiting point for cyclists and walkers.