South Lakes Towns & Villages

The area known as the South Lakes wraps around long, thin Windermere lake. At 10.5 miles long, England’s largest lake forms the spine of this area.
 
Bowness-on-Windermere on Windermere’s shores is the best known of all South Lakes towns and villages. However, there are many truly beautiful villages in the South Lakes, perfect for a holiday base, within a 10 to 20 minute drive of Windermere lake.
 
Scroll down for the quick guide to villages in this area with links to extended pages with more info, photos and maps. Or jump to Map View. Distances given below are by road.

Small towns in the South Lakes

Definitely towns, but on a Lake District scale! The small resident populations are swollen many fold in the holiday season.

Bowness-on-Windermere

on Windermere lake shore

image of Bowness-on-Windermere town in the South Lakes

A bustling tourist town on the east shore of Windermere lake. Here you’ll find lots of accommodation, restaurants and pubs. Windermere Lake Cruises and most of the marinas and boat hire are based here as well as the most “touristy” attractions. The World of Beatrix Potter children’s attraction is here.

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Ambleside

: Windermere lake under 1 mile

image of an aerial view of Ambleside, a town in the South Lakes

Very popular and still thronged with tourists but less day trippers. Less than a mile from the northern tip of Windermere lake it has its own Lake Cruises jetty, marina and boat hire. Slightly more focused on culture and history than Bowness. The centre of the South Lakes outdoor activities industry.

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South Lakes Villages

To qualify here as a village, rather than a hamlet, these have a distinct village centre with multiple shops, restaurants, pubs and other tourist facilities.

Windermere Village

: Windermere lake 1.5 miles

image of Windermere village in the South Lakes

Almost merging with Bowness but with totally different centres. Around a mile and a half from the lake it’s very popular but quieter and more relaxed. Still lots of accommodation and attractions. It has the only train connection in the South Lakes and grew up around the attractive little railway station.

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Coniston Village

: Ambleside 7 miles, Coniston Water 0.5 miles

image of Coniston Water and Coniston Village in the South Lake District

Towered over by the “Old Man of Coniston” fell and a short stroll from stunning Coniston Water. Walkers and climbers meander in the streets while village life goes on apace around them. Famous for friendliness, great walking and great beer. The Coniston Brewing Company produces superb ales in a 400 year old Inn.

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Hawkshead

: Ambleside 4.5 miles, Coniston Water 3 miles, Esthwaite Water 1 mile

image of streets and houses in Hawkshead village in the South Lakes

The tiny village is a pretty collection of higgledy-piggledy houses, archways, and squares. Almost completely given over to tourism, cars are banned from the centre. The acclaimed Beatrix Potter Gallery is here. Less than 3 miles away is Grizedale Forest, one of the main Mountain Biking centres with miles of forest trails.

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Grasmere Village

: Ambleside 4 miles, Grasmere (lake) 0.4 miles.

image of an aerial view of Grasmere village in the South Lakes

Another pretty village, larger than Hawkshead. Again you wonder where the locals live as it seems every property is re-purposed for tourism. This is Wordsworth country, both Dove Cottage and Wordsworth’s grave are here. Relaxed and friendly it’s an excellent holiday base and has rowing boat hire on its lovely small lake.

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Newby Bridge

: Windermere lake 1 mile

image of the river at Newby Bridge village in the South Lakes

Located right at the southern tip of Windermere lake, Newby Bridge is a quieter village but still has plenty of accommodation and places to eat. The Lakeside & Haverthwaite steam railway from Haverthwaite to Lakeside Pier calls in here and there’s some very popular attractions nearby.

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South Lakes Hamlets

These South Lakes hamlets have scattered residential and holiday accommodation with a few tea shops and Inns.

Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey

: Ferry to Bowness 1.7 miles, Hawkshead 2.5 miles

image of Far Sawrey village in the South Lakes

On the quieter western shore of Windermere lake, Near & Far Sawrey are clusters of houses, guest accommodation, teas rooms and pubs. The car ferry to Bowness also takes foot passengers. Beatrix Potter’s home, Hill Top, now a museum, is a hugely popular visitor attraction in Near Sawrey.

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Troutbeck

: Windermere lake at Ambleside Waterhead 3 miles

image of the small shop in Troutbeck Village in the South Lakes

Traditional Lakeland properties strung out along a hilly road above Windermere lake. As is usual in the South Lakes there are hotels, b&bs, holiday cottages and a holiday park. Local Inns provide evening meals and it’s a short run in to Bowness, Windermere Village and Ambleside for all the major tourist facilities.

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Rydal Village

: Ambleside 1.5 miles, Grasmere 2.5 miles, Rydal Water 0.3 miles

image of an aerial view of Rydal village in the South Lakes

A collection of houses scattered around the winding road from Ambleside to Grasmere. Rydal Mount, owned by the Diocese of Carlisle is here; you can visit the gardens and Shepherd’s Huts can be rented there. Rydal Water, the nearby small, attractive lake is most peaceful on the south shores away from the road.

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