Things to do on Lake Windermere
If you haven't heard about Lake Windermere, where have you been hiding? It is the epicentre of the glorious Lake District. Windermere is, in fact, the largest lake both in the Lake District and in England with ‘an estimated 10,000 boats registered to sail on its waters', according to LakeDistrict.org
It is also home to our boat showroom and Bowness Bay Marina, our boat hire company. We feel incredibly lucky to call Lake Windermere our home and love how people from near, far and wide come to experience what the area has to offer. However, we noticed that most guides tell you about what you can do IN Bowness-On-Windermere. We’re going to tell you what you can do ON the lake itself instead.
Head to Bowness Bay Marina
Hiring your own boat allows you to experience the serenity of the lake without the crowds of passenger boats. It is so peaceful looking at the hills and mountains on one side and the unique Lake District architecture of the houses on the other side.
Bowness Bay Marina, our sister company, also in Bowness-On-Windermere, is the place you need to go to hire your own boat. The marina has several options that we’ve broken down for you. That way, you can get an objective point of view of what will suit your needs, budget and experience.
Of course, we are located here too. Pop in and see what boats we have if you are thinking of becoming a boat owner yourself.
What to hire:
Electric boat hire is the ideal option for those with little boating experience. They are easy to operate and boat hire companies on the Marina always provide thorough safety talks and life jackets. Families love hiring these boats, as they are great fun and reasonable in price to hire. There are plenty of variations in size, but you can fit up to eight on some. Even the kids can have a go navigating. Make sure that you take a little picnic to have on board.
Two tips you must remember:
1 – Book in advance
We recommend that you book your boat hire in advance, especially in the peak season. This can be the day before, but it is the best way to avoid disappointment. Queues can become very long and popular boats are snapped up quickly.
2 – Boat Navigation
It is best to stick to the middle of the lake to avoid the commercial ferries. It is easy to navigate your way to the middle and it allows you to enjoy the relaxing surroundings without too much disruption. It takes roughly an hour non-stop to make your way north to Ambleside. Or, allocate a good 3-4 hours to make it a leisurely journey where you can stop to have a bite to eat on the open waters – highly advised on a clear sunny day.
Traditional Rowing & Steam powered Boats
When you prefer a slower pace or want to do as the Victorians did, we suggest hiring out a traditional wooden boat from Bowness Promenade or Ambleside Pier.
You can normally hire these for one to two hours, depending on what your arms can withstand. The joy of this boat hire is the abundance of history.
Did you know that Windermere has its own rowing/steamboat design? One famous passenger boat is the Osprey. Windemere Jetty has lovingly restored the Osprey to steam power and tours are running to experience this small passenger boat in all its glory. This is only at certain times of the year, so check in advance before you commit.
Sailing tours with Lunch or Dinner
Sailing is a completely different experience to boating. It’s wonderful to watch this joyous skill in action, making the experience of travelling across Lake Windermere even more serene.
Several companies in the area offer sailing tours with included dining. This is the option for you if you love the idea of being on Lake Windermere, but prefer to relax rather than navigate and cater for yourself, although you can assist in driving the yacht.
These guided tours are often a great way to start your stay at Lake Windermere, as you’ll get some ‘insider’ tips and ideas on what do elsewhere.
You can only book in advance, but as the Trip Adviser reviews will tell you, these trips are brilliant treats to celebrate special occasions.
These are the main tourist attraction on Lake Windermere, so we'll be shocked if you don't partake in the lake cruises. They provide an excellent hop-on, hop-off experience on magnificent Victorian steam liners and cruisers and visit some of the main lakeside attractions from the Lakeland Motor Museum, to Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole, and Fell Foot Country park. It’s a much more serene way to travel around Lake Windermere than by car, and more enjoyable too.
Don’t be afraid of trying Watersports
Lake Windermere is probably the perfect place to try out watersports for the first time. It may look daunting from the shore, as people zip across the water with ease, but see this as a positive. Whichever ever watersport you choose, your guide will be incredibly experienced.
Head to the quieter and calmer parts of the lake at the top end of Bowness-On-Windermere and enjoy a session of paddle boarding. It’s perfect for beginners, as you can stand or kneel and you can take part in a guided tour too.
The same tours can be done by kayak and canoeing. With islands to explore, such as Thompson Holme, you can also enjoy a relaxing picnic away from the hoards of tourists. Sounds perfect to us.
At Low Wood Bay, to the north of the lake, you can also enjoy the thrill of powerboats and water skiing, wakeboarding and knee boarding. This has to be a favourite of ours, as experts in powerboats. Again, Low Wood caters to all abilities and ages, so don’t be afraid to visit and try. Guides are very knowledgeable and will make you feel at home straight away.
Head to the waters
Make sure you incorporate an activity on the waters beyond the cruise line tourist trip next time you visit Lake Windermere. You will need to book in advance, but trust us when we say that being on the lake is the greatest feeling. We think you’ll get hooked and will be soon heading to our showroom to invest in a boat of your very own.