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Windermere Water Skiing Lake
Written by Rajoo on July 23, 2020 Share on

Best Things to Do in Windermere – the largest natural lake in England

Things to do in Windermere are numerous. Windermere is both the largest natural lake in England and the name of the small town on its east shore. This is a coveted summer holiday escape and arguably one of the most beautiful places in the UK. Tourists began to arrive in the mid-19th century when the Kendal and Windermere Railway opened. One person who was always besotted with Windermere was the children’s author Beatrix Potter. He moved into the mansion near the west shore in 1906 and wove the building into her illustrations. Windermere the town is in a loose conurbation with Bowness-on-Windermere. You can catch a ferry to the lake’s west shore and embark on a steamboat trip. Let’s explore the best things to do in Windermere:

  1. Windermere Lake
  2. Lake Cruise
  3. Orrest Head
  4. World of Beatrix Potter
  5. Blackwell
  6. Holehird Gardens
  7. St Martin’s Church
  8. Brant Fell Above the Bustle
  9. Boating and Watersports
  10. Hill Top

1. Windermere Lake

Lake Windermere Nature
Image Credits: Pixabay

The largest natural lake in England, Windermere was born some 13,000 years ago. Water from melting glaciers was held in place by moraine rock that the glaciers had deposited during the Ice Age. The lake is more than ten miles long, and a mile across at its widest point, with a surface, flecked with 18 islands. When tourism arrived in Victorian times, entrepreneurs built themselves lavish homes in gardens, down the east shore. Many of these are now posh hotels, while several gardens are open to the public. The scale of Windermere brings in crowds of yachters and paddle boarders in summer. The raw beauty of the fells (hills) around the shore, and the swirling cloudy skies will keep you transfixed on walks. This is surely one of the best things to do in Windermere.

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2. Lake Cruise

Many of the activities on this list require a pair of walking shoes or getting wet in the lake. You can also spend an unforgettable couple of hours on Windermere without having to move a muscle. If you just need an introduction to the lake, 45-minute cruises depart the pier at Bowness every half hour in summer. But if you can’t get enough of those mountain vistas and wooded islands, there are longer journeys from Bowness to Lakeside at the lake’s southern shore (90 minutes).

3. Orrest Head

One of the great things to do in Windermere is about staying in Windermere is that even short circular walks will deliver you to glorious viewpoints with minimal effort. That’s the story at Orrest Head, a 20-minute hike to the hilltop where awesome panorama can be witnessed. There’s an orientation table up here, detailing all of the summits and ranges you can see. Examples are the Old Man of Coniston, Fairfield, Great Gable, Scafell Pike and the Langdale Pikes. After leaving this summit, the walk continues on through the bucolic St Catherine’s Wood and High Hay Wood, back to Windermere.

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4. World of Beatrix Potter

This themed attraction in the middle of Bowness is suffused with the spirit of her books. It has all of her beloved characters, like Jemima Puddle-Duck and Peter Rabbit. At the start, there’s a brief film introducing Potter’s work and life. In the seven areas that follows are 3D representations of her characters, using ambient sound, scents and lighting.

5. Blackwell

Blackwell - The Arts and Crafts House
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the best things to do in Windermere is paying visit to this place. The Manchester brewing magnate Sir Edward Holt ordered this house as a holiday retreat at a lookout on the edge of Bowness-on-Windermere at the turn of the 20th century. The architect was Baillie Scott, a luminary of the Arts and Crafts movement. The house has come through the last 120 years with all of its fittings and furniture in place.

The level of detail in Scott’s design never ceases to surprise, and shines through in the peculiar window catches, leaf-shaped door handles, stained glass and a wealth of decoration produced by the leading Art and Crafts studios of the day. The fireplaces are especially creative, like the one in the front room, flanked by benches. The garden was designed by Arts and Crafts landscaper Thomas Mawson, on a gorgeous flight of terraces oriented towards the Coniston Fells.

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6. Holehird Gardens

Holehird Gardens is one of the best things to do in Windermere which is just a mile north of Windermere the town. This is a demonstration garden and the seat of the Lakeland Horticultural society. The garden has plants that do well in the Lake District’s stony soils and damp climate. It has Alpine houses, rock and heather gardens and a lovely walled garden noted for its herbaceous borders. Thomas Mawson was also involved here at the end of the 19th century, enlarging the Walled Garden, which had first been built-in 1870. There are national collections of Polystichum ferns, astilbes and hydrangeas, as well as an array of azaleas and rhododendrons. 

7. St Martin’s Church

St Martin, Bowness on Windermere
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

On a sightseeing tour in Bowness, you can take a look around this historic church. St Martin’s dates for the most part to the end of the 15th century and was restored in the 1870s. The walls are slate rubble, with sandstone door and window dressings, while the interior is notable for its use of plaster. On the spandrels between the arches in the nave are texts from a catechetical book published at the end of the 16th century. In front of the lectern, you can also read a small poem written to give thanks for the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, written in 1629, making it one of the best things to do in windermere.

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8. Brant Fell Above the Bustle

Cresting behind Bowness-on-Windermere, Brant Fell is 192 metres high and has a wonderful prospect of the lake. As the name tells you, this 3.5-mile circular walk leads you away from the busy lakefront in summer. The climb can be quite stiff in places, through woodland and open fields to a bare summit, stopping at a viewpoint at Post Knott along the way. The top of Brant Fell is covered with rocky outcrops, up to three metres high. You’ll want to pause for photos of this magical setting before heading back down to Bowness.

9. Boating and Watersports

When the weather’s warm you couldn’t pick a better place for water activities than Windermere. With magnificent Lakeland Fells for scenery, you can hire a variety of boats (a 10-mile an hour speed limit applies) and master the art of sailing. You can hire equipment for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing, and try waterskiing and wakeboarding. The Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa, 10 minutes from Windermere village, has its own watersports centre providing all of these experiences.

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10. Hill Top

Hill Top Near Sawrey
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons.

This National Trust Property and former home of Beatrix Potter can be reached as it’s a simple walk, bike ride or drive and is one of the best things to do in Windermere. HillTop dates to the 1600s and was bought as a writing retreat in 1906. If you know Potter’s illustrations well, you may recognise the furnishings in the entrance hall, like the 18th-century longcase clock, the 17th-century oak press cupboard, an 18th-century dresser and Chippendale-style chairs, which all featured in her illustrations. More than 1,400 objects were left to the National Trust by Potter at Hill Top. You can follow up with a trip to the Beatrix Potter gallery a couple of miles away in Hawkshead.

Windermere is England’s scenic Lake District is famous for its stunning countryside, its award-winning attractions and its beautiful lakes to walk, hike, swim and chill out. Check some of the best England holiday packages and book your trip now with Pickyourtrail and “leave a Whatsapp inquiry  for more options.” Install the best travel app from Playstore and IOS, a 24/7 App to guide you throughout your vacation, we are just a ping away from you.

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