My boyfriend was keen to visit the Ruskin Museum in Coniston on a recent visit to the Lakes, and, having been so mean to him on the drive up there from London, I felt obliged to let him (though, really, it is the passenger's job to be bullied and bossed about by the person doing all the driving on a 300-mile journey).
The museum itself is pretty new, though offers no parking, so you have to circle the little village until a spot on the road comes free. Once you've found one, you have to pay the princely sum of a fiver to get in, and are then free to persue the odd combination of exhibits.
1. The life and works of Ruskin
2. Some random Lakeland history
3. Bits of the Bluebird and a history of Donald Campbell's speed record efforts on Lake Coniston
None of these fit together perfectly well, but are all jumbled up on the inside of the museum. So you can pull out a display of Ruskin lace, and then turn around to see a rusty old bit of Bluebird, and a case housing flint arrow heads.
I found it all a bit underwhelming, and I amused myself watching a sheep shearing video while Ian checked out the Bluebird stuff - much of which I found a bit grim: watching videos of Campbell's last record attempt - the one in which he died - made me feel a bit uncomfortable, as did the display of the overalls the poor man's body lay rotting in for 35 years at the bottom of the lake. But each to his own.
For what it is, the entrance fee is a bit steep. But then I guess they don't get a high footfall, and then need to pay running costs, so that's fair enough.
All in all, it's not one I'd recommend making a journey for.
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