A while since we’d been to the Lake District, we decided to take a trip to Windermere, the largest of the English lakes. Having driven numerous times along the eastern lake shore and then cycled beside the lake to Wray Castle, this time we decided to take in the scenery from the water. Not the first time we’d been on Windermere on a boat, when Son was little we took a Santa cruise. Magical and a really lovely experience but we didn’t pay too much heed to the scenery then. This time we decided to put that right.
Parking spots in the bustling resort of Bowness-on-Windermere have always been like gold-dust on our past trips. This little place always seems to be busy and always full of people no matter when you visit. We did strike it lucky though finding a car park straightaway where spaces were available and better still, a ticket office nearby where we could buy a combined parking/lake cruise ticket. The icing on the cake – it was only a short stroll from the boat launches.
There are any number of cruises on offer from either Lakeside in the south, Bowness in the middle and Waterside (Ambleside) in the north. You can travel from end to end, do a circular cruise and choose any type of vessel from lake steamers to mid-sized modern launches and tiny little wooden boats. We opted for a cruise from Bowness to Waterside and back, up the lake on a mid-sized launch and back on a steamer. Availability for any of these options seemed to be no problem on the day.
We arrived ten minutes before our departure time, took our seats up top and set off for a gentle cruise to the southern end of the lake. It takes about an hour to do the round trip, we decided to disembark at the two stops – Waterside and Brockhole. It felt very genteel and extremely pleasant to sail on this great expanse of water. You can well understand why tourists have been flocking here in vast numbers since the mid 19th century.
The lake is 10 miles long and a mile wide, the waters were incredibly calm and without doubt this is a great way to savour the scenic wonders.
We had a commentary as we sailed, the captain pointed out a few things of interest but I just focussed on those views – the shore line with wooded fells, hills and crags in the distance.
Our first stop was Brockhole, we walked from the jetty through a huge grassy area with people picnicking and relaxing. Son raced to an adventure playground and let off steam there for about half an hour. They had a tree top adventure course and a giant net thing suspended from the trees with crowds of excited children bouncing around in it. Son was keen but we were under time pressure – we vowed to return sometime for this.
Just enough time to walk to the little visitor centre where we had drinks on the patio with a view of the lake before it was time to head back and catch the next boat.
We got off again at Waterside – the stop for Ambleside – and decided to walk to the town. It took a while – just over a mile but we decided to stop and check out some Roman ruins first.
The walk is away from the lake and along quite a busy road so not really as pleasant as I was expecting. Son moaned and groaned the whole way, however when he spied a pitch and putt course in the town his energy levels were miraculously restored. We wandered around pretty little Ambleside, found loads of bars, cafes and hiking shops and then decided to take the charabanc back to the jetty – a pleasant ride for £1 each and no moaning this time – win win.
Back on the boat we spied Wray Castle and chilled as we glided back to Bowness. A lovely day out on the biggest lake in England, this is a magical place and definitely, I think, best seen from a boat.