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Lake Windermere, the Largest in England's Lake District

My interest in historic events, nature and wildlife is reflected in our choice of destinations when planning our holidays and day trips.

Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere in England's Lake District

Lake Windermere is full of wildlife that includes a multitude of fish and birds and supports a host of relaxing activities that includes yachting, canoeing and leisure cruises for tourists wishing to see the full splendour of the lake and the surrounding countryside. The lake is surrounded by forested mountains on all sides.

One of the main tourist spots on the lakeside from where leisure cruise trips can be made is Bowness-on-Windermere, a beautiful spot in itself with a swarm of friendly swans happy to be hand fed.

Cruise boats regularly dock at Bowness-on-Windermere and around the other villages on the lakeside, from where they can give trips around the lake. The Queen of the Lake is the boat we took our adventure on.

The Spectacular Lakes of the Lake District

The Lake District is, without a doubt, the most gorgeous part of England, and Lake Windermere is the largest and most spectacular lake in the area.

The lakes in Cumbria were formed by the ice of retreating glaciers that gouged out the mountainsides of Cumbria, North West England at the end of the last ice age which occurred over 13,000 years ago. Lake Windermere is the largest of them all and measures 10.5 miles long, is a mile wide and has a depth of 220 feet; it is also the largest natural lake in England.

I’ve been to the Lake District a couple of times and would go again given the chance. It’s a place of natural beauty with plenty of mountains and lakes to explore and is very popular with people who wish to spend a week or two camping in the hills and mountains while exploring this natural wonder on foot.

On our last holiday to the Lake District, we rented an upper-floor flat that overlooked Lake Windermere, and from there, we were able to explore the great lakes and the surrounding areas by car. We made day trips to many places including the childhood home of William Wordsworth, the Osprey Project, the mountain steam trains and the beautiful Beatrix Potter museum.


Bowness-on-Windermere is two towns—Bowness and Windermere—each with its own town centre that grew and eventually merged together to become one large settlement.

As well as the boat trips and all the pleasure cruises around the lake, Bowness also has a train station and buses serving the local area. The Windermere Car Ferry runs from Bowness Ferry Nab to the Ferry House Far Sawrey on the other side (west side) of the lake; the trip, once you're aboard, takes about 10 minutes.

Day Cruise of Lake Windermere on the Queen of the Lake

One of our day trips was taking an all-day cruise on Lake Windermere, boarding the Queen of the Lake, a traditional Launch Cruise starting at Bowness-on-Windermere. While waiting to board, we spent a brief period feeding and filming all the hungry and friendly swans at Bowness eagerly waiting for a treat from the passing tourists.

Halfway through the day the cruise boat moored for an hour-long lunch at Lakeside on the far side of Lake Windermere, and while having our packed lunch and a coffee, I took the opportunity to film the local steam train service running from Lakeside.

Steam Trains on the Lake

On the opposite side of Lake Windermere to Bowness-on-Windermere is Lakeside, where a train service on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway (just over three miles long) is generally timed to connect with lake cruises on Lake Windermere. So tourist from Haverthwaite can catch a steam train to Lakeside in time to take sailings to Bowness and Ambleside.

The railway was originally opened in 1869 as a branch line of Furness Railway but closed in 1965 as part of the Conservative Governments policy to close thousands of branch lines across Britain. The railway re-opened as a heritage railway in 1973, and now (along with the seven miles long Ravenglass and Eskdale railway in the Lake District) serves as a vital and viable toniest attraction that provides an invaluable local transport service.

When on holiday in the Lake District, although we took the day cruise around Lake Windermere (from Bowness), which stopped at Lakeside for an hour at lunch time, we didn’t take a trip on the steam train. Although it was great fun watching the trains depart and return while we were having our lunch; albeit, earlier in the week we did treat ourselves to a trip on the other great railway on the Lakes, the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway, which was first opened in 1875.

Queen of the Lake

The Queen of the Lake is just one of several pleasure cruisers, including the Miss Lakeland and Miss Cumbria that are operated by the Windermere Lake Cruises company.

Queen of the Lake

Queen of the Lake

Swans on Lake Windermere

While waiting to board the Queen of the Lake from Bowness-on-Windermere for our day trip around Lake Windermere we took the opportunity to film and feed all the hungry swans mingling with the tourists at this most beautiful town located right on the water’s edge. As the video shows, the swans were eager to eat to the point of even trying to snatch food from you given the chance.

A Little Walk on the Lite Side

While staying at Lake Windermere for a week, we took daily trips to explore the rest of the area including a visit to the childhood home and gardens of William Wordsworth (an English poet from the Romantic Age, who was named a Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1843 until his death in 1850). We also took a trip to Dodd Wood at Keswick to see the Twitchers at the Osprey Project overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake.

In fact, after not being able to fit everything into the one week we'd planned for, we extended the holiday an extra day by renting a tent at the English Heritage campsite located in the mountains near Great Langdale, Ambleside. The village of Ambleside is on the far side of Lake Windermere to Bowness-on-Windermere.

British Wild Birds Feeding at Sticklebarn Tavern Great Langdale, Ambleside

Extending our holiday by a day and staying at the campsite, in the early evening we enjoyed a meal at Sticklebarn Tavern. It was just a short drive from the campsite, and joining us were all the wildlife birds. You can see them in the short video clip.

Our rooftop holiday flat overlooking Lake Windermere

Our rooftop holiday flat overlooking Lake Windermere

© 2011 Arthur Russ