Windermere is a large (long) lake in the southern Lake District. It is also the name of a town that is close by, separated from the lake by Bowness-on-Windermere (more or less part of the same town nowadays). The ensemble of the town and the picturesque setting make Windermere one of the most popular and visited destinations within the lake District.
Running north to south, Lake Windermere is about 11 miles long but less than a mile across at its widest point. The major population areas near the lake are at Ambleside and Waterhead to the north and Windermere town on the eastern side. To the south there is a small settlement at Lakeside (starting point for a restored steam railway), and a small village at Newby Bridge - both claim to represent the southern end of the lake, while the villages of Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey are close to the western shore. Within the lake there are also 18 islands, most are small but Belle Isle, the largest, is almost a kilometre long.
But of course it isn't facts and figures that attract so many visitors! The lake is in a very picturesque setting, with numerous opportunities to enjoy leisure activities both on Lake Windermere itself and around its edges - and according to official statistics a busy summer day will see 100,000 people on and around the lake!
One of the most popular ways to enjoy the lake is by pleasure cruiser. Passenger boats travel the whole length of the lake between Ambleside and lakeside with various optional stops along the way and are a good way to enjoy the scenery around lake Windermere. Boats can also be hired if you prefer to explore yourself, and there is a car ferry that crosses the lake from Bowness to Far Sawrey if you want to explore the eastern side.
The extensive National Trust managed gardens at Fell Foot on the southern part of the lake are also a lovely scenic spot and perfect for a picnic. Other popular activities on the lake include sailing, fishing, swimming, birdwatching (especially swans, ducks and geese), walking the lakeside footpaths, splashing around at the edge...
Make the Brockhole visitor centre (north-east shores of Lake Windermere) your first stop for more information and up to date details of activities taking place during your stay.
Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere town
The 'twin towns' of Bowness-on-Windermere and Windermere are together one of the most visited centres in the Lake District: the former is on the lake itself and the latter about 15 minute walk from the lake shore.
While the lake area is of course the big attraction, spend some time exploring the towns which are pleasant and lively, and offer every facility the visitor could want, and a very wide choice of eateries and accommodation to suit all budgets.
A local highlight includes the arts and Crafts house and gardens at nearby Blackwell, while the gardens at Graythwaite Hall and Holehird are also recommended to gardening enthusiasts.