Bowness-on-Windermere is a small town and tourism hot-spot, located on the shores of Lake Windermere and climbing the surrounding fells to gain the best views. You’re likely to travel through the small town of Windermere, to get down to Bowness (as it’s often referred to). Both Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere have their own town centres, but to a new visitor, the towns appear very much linked, with no countryside between them – a result of the growth of these once tiny villages.
Windermere train station is at the top of the hill and while it’s possible to wander down to Bowness, many simply jump in a taxi or on a bus for the trip down to the Lakeside. You can hop on the car-carrying cable ferry to explore the Western shores of the Lake including the village of Far Sawrey. However, most will happily spend a day in Bowness either taking a boat trip on the lake, shopping or enjoying the local attractions such as 'The World of Beatrix Potter' Attraction. There are art galleries galore and there’s even a pitch and putt course down near to the lake.
THINGS TO DO in BOWNESS & WINDERMERE
1. World of Beatrix Potter.
If you have youngsters, then you need to take them to the World of Beatrix Potter on Crag Brow, Bowness. It’s a must for anyone who loves Peter Rabbit and it has beautifully-made displays straight from the books. You can even have a walk around Mr. McGregor’s garden.
2. Windermere Lake Cruise
Windermere Lake Cruises is one of the most popular days out in the region. Cruises on England’s largest lake can be from 45 minutes to three hours depending on where you want to go. Cruises go to Ambleside, Brockhole and Lakeside at Newby Bridge and see you cruising past stunning mountain scenery, secluded bays and wooded islands as well as the many spectacular hotels, which were once homes to the wealthy Lancashire cotton mill owners. You can make trips of between 45 minutes and three hours or buy an all-day ticket.
3. Blackwell Arts and Crafts House
Just south of Bowness is Blackwell. This is one of Britain’s finest houses, surviving from the turn of the last century with almost all of its original decorative features intact. Blackwell’s period rooms have been furnished with a blend of Arts and Crafts furniture and early country made pieces made by many of the Arts and Crafts designers and studios. There’s also a beautiful garden layed out by Thomas Mawson which visitors can discover or sit on the terrace and enjoy.
4. Make the most of the view
Orrest Head, above Windermere is considered by many to be the best viewpoint over Lake Windermere as on a clear day the fell offers a 360 degree view taking in the Langdales and Troutbeck Valley. It was Alfred Wainwright’s first climb and the view today remains just how he would have seen it. Start opposite Windermere station.
5. Brockhole – The Lake District Visitor Centre
Windermere lake cruises stop at Brockhole. Visitors can take in the scenic views and gardens which stretch down to the shores of the lake, browse round the shop or look around the free exhibitions. There’s a soft play area for the children and an aerial woodland adventure, Treetop Trek and wildlife experience Predator Park, so plenty for everyone young or old to see and do.
6. Mountain Goat Tours
The wonderfully-named Mountain Goat transport business in Windermere has organised specially tailored tours of the Lakes for the last 40 years so you don’t have to do the driving. They collect and return to Lindeth Fell and offer full day and half day tours
7. Pamper Yourself
Our guests have complimentary use of the pool, sauna and steam rooms at the Macdonald Old England in Bowness, perfect for the ultimate in relaxation. Just collect a voucher from our reception. The swimming pool has an open air patio where spa guests can sit and relax in warm weather, and take in the view before and after their treatments.
Start up at the top end of Windermere with Lakeland and Booths for all things kitchen, home and food. Then wander down to Forget Me Not Interiors for some individual home and gift ideas, stopping at Peter Hall & Son boutique and interior design studio in the main Street. Clayton’s is a traditional , independent butchers in the centre of town. Stop here for Cumberland sausage! Gina’s shoes are hard to resist a browse, then make your way down to Bowness by car or foot and stop at Pandora for some stunning jewellery. Cross the road to The Bath House Shop for handmade in Cumbria luxury scents and toiletries. Keeping with the Cumbrian theme on Ash Street, Hand made chocolates at Helens Chocolates and Love the Lakes for inspired gifts, toiletries, ornaments, food and drink.
9. Messing about on the water.
Windermere canoe and kayak by Ferry nab rent out ‘sit on top ‘kayaks which are great fun and suitable for all abilities. Windermere lake cruises at Bowness pier have a range from traditional wooden rowing boats to small motor cruisers, while Low Wood Bay watersports centre offer water skiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding, and also motor and sail boat hire. Or choose Sail’n’Dine for a luxury dinner onboard.
The Royalty Cinema in Bowness shows films, old and new, in an authentic 1930s setting complete with its own mighty Wurlitzer organ.
The New Hall Inn (also known as the Hole in t’Wall because of the hole where beer was handed into the next door blacksmith’s forge) is on Lowside in Bowness. It is the town’s oldest pub dating back to 1612 and it remains full of charm and character. Dickens once went there (along with just about every other inn in Britain). Nearby is The Albert, which serves some good ales, just up the hill is The Angel, which has a nice beer garden and decent views.
12. Where to Eat?
Porto in Bowness gets good reviews along with Choccobar, Villa Positano, Caffe Riva and in Windermere try Café Italia, and a terrific fish restaurant called Hooked. A little further afield, there’s The Wild Boar Pub, The Brown Horse at Winster and The Punchbowl Inn in Crosthwaite.