Cumbria & the Lake District

Windermere & Bowness

Windermere and Bowness, Cumbria

Windermere & Bowness

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The towns of Windermere and Bowness at the heart of the Lake District have been a magnet for visitors since Victorian times. With easy access to the lake shore of Windermere and panoramic views of the lake and surrounding fells, the area remains just as popular today. Windermere, England’s longest lake, is a narrow finger of water some 17 km (10.5 miles) long, stretching from Ambleside in the north to Newby Bridge in the south. There are 14 islands in the lake, the largest of which is Belle Isle (formerly known as Longholme) with its unusual circular house. A ferry service has operated across the narrowest point of the lake (Bowness to Ferry House on the western shore) since the 15th century. Originally a small hamlet called Birthwaite, the town of Windermere rose to prominence with the completion of the railway link from Kendal in 1847. The railway came and so did the visitors – some 120,000 in its first year, mainly from the industrial towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Horse-drawn carriages were laid on to ferry passengers from the station to the lakeside, whilst charabancs took hotel guests on sightseeing excursions around the area. Until the 19th century, Bowness-on-Windermere was a fishing village. But once the railway came to Windermere, hotels, villas and boarding houses rapidly sprang up to accommodate the influx of visitors. Today, it is a bustling tourist destination offering a cosmopolitan mix of shops, restaurants and accommodation. For wealthy Victorian businessmen from the urban areas, the Lakes was a haven of scenic tranquillity, and many of them acquired grand country retreats on Windermere, such as Storrs Hall (now a hotel) and Brockhole (now the Lake District National Park Visitor Centre. Today, the area is a focus for pleasure cruises and a variety of watersports, such as sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. Away from the lake shore you’ll find a variety of heritage sites, historic houses, gardens and other visitor attractions. Bowness on Windermere on Go Lakes

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