Lake District Towns and Villages
Windermere and Bowness in the Lake District National Park
Lake Windermere at 10 and a half miles, is the longest lake in England. Situated on it's eastern side are the 'villages' of Windermere and Bowness on Windermere. Windermere is about a mile from the lake and set on a hillside whilst Bowness, the more attractive of the two, is at the water's edge, a short distance away. The two almost merge into each other with the railway station being at Windermere and buses running down to Bowness every few minutes. Winderemere was a village called Birthwaite until the coming of the railway in 1847, which changed the face of the district for ever. Many of the hotels and villa's that sprung up are still here offering plenty of accommodation to visitors.
At the height of the summer the region seems more like Blackpool than the Lake District and Bowness bows to every whim of the tourists, who often go no further than here. Aside from the strolling around the gifts shops, ice cream parlours, bars and cafes there are plenty of attractions in the area. Cruises around the lake are popular and there are stopping off points, allowing visitors to spent time at other attractions before returning. The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway connects with the Lake Steamer from Bowness making an interesting day's outing. The Windermere Steamboat Museum on the Bowness to Ambleside road has an interesting collection of old steam craft, each with a story to tell. At the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, characters from her books come to life with the help of modern technology.
Situated on the road from Windermere to Ambleside is Brockhole, the National Park Visitor Centre. Here you can learn about the Lake District and the effort to preserve the beauty of the Lakes or you can just wonder around the superb gardens. During the summer you will find a regular programs of events for all ages. Lake Windermere Aquarium has an amazing array of freshwater fish, typical of the ones found in Windermere lake itself.
Much of the eastern side of the lake is privately owned offering few public access points where people can stroll by the water's edge. In comparison the much less populated western side, much of it under the stewardship of the National Trust offers delightful lakeside walking. Orrest Head offers some escape from the crowds at Windermere, is only a 20 minute walk away and offers a glorious view of the lake and the southern fells. Likewise Troutbeck is only a short distance away and provides some decent low level walking.
St Martins's church in Bowness is worth a look at. It was built around 1483 replacing a much earlier church which had been destroyed by fire. The font and some of the stained glass survived from the original building and may have come from Cartmel Priory. Belle Isle, the largest of the eighteen isles on the lake is privately owned and contains a Georgian round house, home to the Curwin family for over 200 years. It is visible through the trees if you can get close enough by boat.
More on the steamboat centre can be found on Steamboat Co
and from Windermere Lake Cruises on Windermere Lake Cruises
Beatrix Potter attraction on Beatrix Potter Attraction
For accommodation at Windermere and Bowness see Windermere and Bowness Hotels and Guest Houses