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Britain > Lake District > Bowness on Windermere

Cumbria's most popular tourist destination


Windermere Views
Steam Ships
World of Beatrix Potter
Cockshott Point
Bowness-on-Windermere is halfway along the eastern bank of England's largest lake. Before the 19th century, this was merely a quiet fishing village. Then the railway arrived, and everything changed. Thanks to the new transport route, it quickly turned into the most popular tourist destination in the whole of Cumbria.
In truth, that all-important train station isn't in Bowness at all. It's actually a kilometre away, in a neighbouring village that's also called Windermere. Lately, the two settlements have grown so close together that's it's difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins.
Unsurprisingly, most visitors gather at the water's edge, to sit on the grass and take in the views. More ambitious types can see the lake from every possible angle by walking the Windermere Way. This 72 kilometre route circles the water completely, taking in all the major sights and settlements. Finishing the whole thing takes a good few days, so most people just pick out a single section.

Tourists relaxing by Lake Windermere
Photo jack berry
Another popular walk is to the summit of Orrest Head. Since it's not far from the station, this was the first peak that Alfred Wainwright ever climbed. In his own words, the view "cast a spell that changed [his] life". He later went on to become the Lake District's biggest expert. His guidebooks are still the definitive source of Lakeland information.

The view of Lake Windermere from Orrest Head
Photo Bods (cc)
Another good way to see Windermere is from the surface itself! This is probably the UK's best venue for water-based activities. Sailing and fishing are the most traditional, but all sorts of modern pursuits have become commonplace. From kayaking to wakeboarding, anything is possible. Be careful though, because this is the only lake in the entire National Park that has no speed limit!

Sailing on Lake Windermere
Photo john.purvis
Windermere's biggest vessels are its steam ships. They're the easiest way to travel between the nearby settlements, including Ambleside in the north and Lakeside in the south. These unhurried journeys take a relaxing hour and half, which easily disappears in the company of such stunning scenery. Previous passengers have included Cumbrian celebrities like the poet William Wordsworth, and the author Beatrix Potter.

Cruising from Bowness
Photo mattbuck4950
The latter is well remembered in Bowness. At the World of Beatrix Potter, her life and stories are vividly recounted. Characters such as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck come to life in the 3D exhibits.

The World of Beatrix Potter
Photo king_david_uk
It's difficult to get a sense of what Bowness was like before the boom in tourism. When the Victorians began to arrive in numbers, they transformed the place with their pretty architecture. However, there are still one or two spots that retain an older atmosphere. The best example is Lowside, a maze of narrow streets behind St. Martin's Church. Thankfully, despite the drastic changes, the town hasn't lost its cheery charm.

Bodega and Sol Tapas Bar

Nicely situated in the centre of Bowness, The Bodega, serves a good choice of coffee, wine, Tapas and world beers. Much of the food is locally sourced and cooked with a Mediterranean twist. Outdoor seating is available giving Bodega's a'pavement cafe' feel in the heart of Bowness. Ash Street, Bowness, LA23 3EB.

Lake view, Crown Carvery

Value for money carvery in a fabulous location on the waterfront. No need to book, just come along, find a table and order food from the bar. Glebe Road, Bowness, LA23 3HE.

Cockshott Point Walk

Cockshott Point and its small pebbly beach are directly opposite Belle Island and is a great spot for picnics if weather allows. To get there from Glebe car park, turn left and beyond the last shops you will see a gate which opens onto a path beneath the trees. As you emerge into the fields, the path continues straight ahead. To get to Cockshott Point, head across the gently sloping grass, sometimes grazed by cows.
Visitor Information
Bowness Tourist Information Centre, Glebe Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, LA23 3HJ. Tel: 015394 42895
World of Beatrix Potter is open daily, 10am to 5.30pm (4.30 in winter). Entry costs around £7 for adults, £3.50 children. Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3BX. Tel: 0844 504 1233

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