Bowness And Windermere
The linked towns of Bowness and Windermere lie at the heart of the Lake District set by the shores of Lake Windermere, and have been a huge attraction for visitors since Victorian times.
Windermere town lies furthest from the lake. It was here the railway came, bringing in visitors who all leapt of the train with buckets and spades, hampers and picnics, promptly rushing down to Bowness and the lake.
Recently Windermere has been given a face lift with an attractive pedestrian centre, where you will find plenty of shops along with good pubs and restaurants.
Leaving Windermere you run straight into Bowness. The town lies on the east shore of the lake, its main street climbing away from the bay up a steep hill. Always a nice holiday atmosphere, if a little crowded in peak season, the steamers offer trips up and down the lake, where if you get your times right they can be used as a water bus.
The Bowness settlement dates back to the 11th century when the Vikings first set up shop. For years Bowness remained little more than a few cottages and fishermen's' huts, then came the 19th century, steam railway and the rest as they say is history.
Shopping - Dining - Entertainment
Today much of the action takes place down at the bottom end with shops, pubs and restaurants and the boat terminus. Here you can board one of the Steamers and cruise up and down the lake, calling at Ambleside in the north or Lakeside down at the southern tip.
For those who wish to take to the water under their own steam you can hire row boats or little electric powerboats. Along the bay, on the Glebe, is the Marina with lots of boat shops for cleats, rowlocks, diving and sailing gear, also a few bars and cafes overlooking the water.
Along with the water activities there are a number of good attractions. The Windermere Steamboat Museum lies on the Rayrigg Road. Here you get a wonderful insight into a more genteel age of boating, and can book a trip on one of their fine restored steamboats.
The Old Laundry is both a theatre and host to an exhibition dedicated to the characters of Beatrix Potter and is a great favourite with children. At the top end of the town is the Royalty Cinema.
South, on the Newby Bridge Road, is the newly restored Blackwell Arts & Crafts House. This perfect example of the Arts & Crafts movement also houses a fine gallery of modern art.
For shopping there is a mix of grocers, fashion stores, with Booths supermarket located in Windermere and a Tesco Express in Bowness. For dining you will find a large selection of pubs, cafes and restaurants.
For dining out here are plenty of cafes, inns and restaurants, however they do come and go, so a search on Google for updates and new venues is a good idea.
Stalwarts are The Porto Restaurant down at the bottom of Bowness and get excellent reviews. The Postilion Bistro tucked away off Ash Street has a French-Mediterranean menu. Fat Olives is new to me but good reviews and finally The Bodega Tapas Bar comes highly recommended and is great for a quick nibble or an evening out.
In Windermere there is Hooked, an excellent fish restaurant, easy going, excellent food and wise to book. Francine’s is a relaxed and friendly bistro-styled restaurant with an a-la-carte menu and daily additions boards available with a great wine list and a large selection of local speciality ales. Popular with people seeking a quieter place to eat well. Seafood is there passion with freshly prepared lobster with large bowls of steaming mussels and fish casseroles.
For special occasion you should try the Gilpin Hotel. Located a mile or so from Windermere it is an excellent venue. With 3 AA rosettes since 1997, it specialise in fine dining without pretentious stuffiness but within chic surrounds. The menus celebrate some of the finest Lake District produce and West Coast seafood where the wines carefully matched to go with each dish.
Finally, a few miles north on the Ambleside road, is the Samling Hotel and Restaurant. Award winning and with a Michelin Star, it is not cheap but is another one for special occasions. Reservation essential.
Out And About - Local Walks - Activities
The town is good to explore, a pleasing maze of little lanes where you will find all of the cafes and shops, along with the post office, grand hotels and the oldest pub, The Hole Int’ Wall. The name comes from the days when ale was passed through a hole to the then adjoining blacksmith.
The church of St Martins is a handsome building and marks the area of the old part of Bowness. Head north toward Ambleside and you have Brockhole, the National Park Visitor Centre. Here there are indoor exhibitions, the famous Thomas Mawson gardens and an exciting adventure playground ensures there is something for all the family, along with boat trips and hire rowing boats or canoes.
For some serious water activity the Low Wood Water Sports Centre has an extensive range of kit. A few miles north of Bowness you can try waterskiing and wake boarding, Sailing boat hire and instruction, motor boat hire and fly-boarding, an adrenaline pumping experience that you will never forget! Water is forced under pressure to your boots with jet nozzles underneath, providing thrust for the rider to fly! - crazy - mad - huge fun.
At Bay you can take a trip on a steamer or get on the water yourself. You can hire row boats and little motor boats and set off to explore the shoreline and islands.
Kankku offers real off road driving adventure putting you in the driving seat of specially prepared 4x4 vehicles, where you can discover the Lake District from a new angle.
First time or advanced expeditions for individuals, families or groups to take the wheel... or you can bring your own 4x4. Booking in advance is advisable.
For local walks, apart from a stroll along the bay, the nearest bit of countryside starts from Windermere, where a path opposite the railway entrance leads up onto Orrest Head. Here you will get some of the finest views of the lake and Cumbrian Mountains - do take your camera. You can carry on and come down into the Troutbeck Valley, returning by lane to the village, or step that bit further and find the excellent Queens Head Inn in Troutbeck village.
Our guide is only a flavour of what is on offer throughout the National Park - To get more info and the best from your holiday do take some time searching on Google etc.
Lake District Cottages In And Around The Bowness Area
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