The linked towns of Windermere and Bowness at the heart of the Lake District have been an attraction for visitors since Victorian times and the arrival of the railway. With the lake shore of Windermere so close, there is always something to do whatever the season - walking along the lakeside, enjoying panoramic views of the lake and mountains from several viewpoints, experiencing a whole host of water-based activities, luxuriating in the pleasures of travelling around the area by steamer, open-top bus or steam train or discovering the lake for yourself by hiring a rowing boat or dinghy, or taking a cruise.
Away from the lake shore is a varied choice of heritage sites, historic houses, fortified farm houses, colourful gardens and other visitor attractions
Windermere, a narrow finger of water some 17km (10.5 miles) long stretching from Ambleside in the north to Newby Bridge in the south, is the focus for a variety of water pursuits - sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, windsurfing, and the more unusual scenic cruises. The comfortable cruisers call at Lakeside, Bowness, Brockhole and Ambleside.
Bowness grew from a small fishing village to bustling tourist destination once the railway came to Windermere in 1847 and now offers a cosmopolitan mix of shops and restaurants, and a large choice of accommodation to suit all pockets.
The town of Windermere has a more sedate feel, centred on a compact shopping area with art galleries and cafes alongside traditional shops such as butchers, bakers and a well-stocked ironmongery store. This was as far as the railway penetrated into the southern Lakes, bringing many thousands of visitors to marvel at the beauty of the lake and its surroundings.
LADIES OF THE LAKE
The oldest, Tern, was built in 1891 as a steam-powered yacht. During WW2 she was requisitioned as a patrol boat on the lake and used as a base for testing underwater mine laying techniques. Her original steam engines have since been replaced by diesel ones.
Teal was built in 1936 by Vickers of Barrow-in-Furness for the LMS Railway Co. Swan was built as a sister ship to Teal in 1938.
DID YOU KNOW...
In 1895, Windermere became ice-bound for 6 weeks, making it possible to walk across from one side to the other. Other frozen years were 1864, 1946 and 1963.
Orrest Head, above Windermere station, was the first summit visited by Alfred Wainwright and he later recalled that ‘those few hours at Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life'.
The Baddeley Clock on the main road (A5074) marks the division between Windermere and Bowness. It was built as a memorial to M J B Baddeley (1843-1906) who wrote a series of well-regarded guidebooks.
The two towns of Windermere and Bowness were the second area in England to have electric street lighting - supplied from a hydro-electric plant at Troutbeck Bridge.
A curious plaque set into the pavement of Crag Brow reads ‘This footpath is not dedicated to the public', meaning that the public have no right of way over this area but are allowed to do so by permission of the landowner!
Storrs Hall was built by John Bolton, a wealthy shipowner who dealt in the slavery trade. It is said that the slaves were kept in the cellars of Storrs Hall until buyers could be found for them.
Charles Dickens apparently ‘frequented' the New Hall Inn in Bowness-on-Windermere.
Thomas Longmire, landlord of the Hole in't Wall Inn was a champion wrestler of England - holding 174 wrestling belts to his name!