Windermere, at 10.5 miles long, one mile wide and 220 feet deep, is the largest natural lake in England, and is fed by numerous rivers. The Romans built their fort of GALAVA at its northern end (Waterhead), and it has always been an important waterway for movement of heavy materials.
Bowness-on-Windermere – Lakeland’s most popular holiday resort – is an excellent centre for boating activities, with over 10,000 boats registered. Until March 2005 Windermere was the only lake without a speed limit, but a 10 mph limit has now been imposed.
There is a large selection of Adventure Activity companies, guides and instructors for all abilities based around and on Windermere. Details of these can be found in our Activities Section.
The village of Windermere grew around the Windermere railway station, about a mile and a half from the lake. The village was originally called Birthwaite, but the railway company decided to call the station after the lake.
Steamers and launches operate from Bowness Bay to Waterhead at Ambleside, and Lakeside at the southern end.
In the late 19th century, wealthy businessmen from Lancashire built grand mansions overlooking the lake, and many of these have now been converted to hotels, such as the Langdale Chase Hotel, and the Belsfield Hotel. Others houses include The National Park Visitor Centre at Brockhole, between Ambleside and Bowness, and Wray Castle almost opposite Brockhole, and the first Lake District holiday home of Beatrix Potter.
Arthur Ransome based his book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ partly on Windermere and partly on nearby Coniston Water. The lake is today one of the prime destinations for watersports and is home to several marinas and Sailing and Windsurfing Centres.
Windermere accommodation links
The Cedar Manor Hotel – boutique hotel within walking distance of Windermere town centre.
The Rothay Manor Hotel – charming hotel in Ambleside village on the northern end of the lake.
Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa – luxury lakeside hotel in Bowness on Windermere.
Bed & Breakfast
Lindeth Fell – 5* luxury bed & breakfast in a tranquil location on the outskirts of bustling Bowness.
Blenheim Lodge – 4* bed and breakfast in Bowness with lake Windermere views.
Oakfold House – 4* bed & breakfast located in a quiet position between Bowness and Windermere.
High Fold Guest House – 4* bed & breakfast in Troutbeck village, approx 3 miles from Windermere lake
Smallwood House – 4* B&B with use of nearby Spa facilities in Ambleside village on the northern end of the lake.
Hillsdale – 4* townhouse B&B with parking in Ambleside village on the northern end of the lake.
Holly Wood Guest House – 4* B&B in a quiet location in central Windermere village.
Amboseli Lodge – 4* B&B with garden & parking, 10 minutes walk to the lake in Ambleside village.
The Cuckoo’s Nest – in a central location in Ambleside village. Sleeps 2, no pets.
Glamping – see our Glamping page for a full selection of sites & providers on Windermere