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 or you just love Peter rabbit, then you need to go to the World of Beatrix Potter on Crag Brow, Bowness. It has beautifully-made displays straight from the books, and you can even have a walk around Mr. McGregor’s garden.
2. Windermere Lake Cruises.
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, Windermere Jetty 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 a few minutes by car from Lindeth Fell 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 sit on the terrace and enjoy.
Short walks to make the most of the view:
4. 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. Brantfell and Post Knott also offer spectacular views and can be easily accessed from Bowness town, or from Lindeth Fell.
6. Brockhole – The Lake District Visitor Centre – great for kids.
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. They also have a new restaurant.
7. Take a tour with the wonderfully-named ‘Mountain Goat’ company in Windermere.
They have organised specially tailored tours of the Lakes for the last 40 years so that you don’t have to do the driving. They collect and return to Lindeth Fell and offer full day and half day tours
Bowness and Windermere have an abundance of interesting shops:
Start at the top end of Windermere at Lakeland for all things kitchen and home ~ this is the flagship store and has a nice café upstairs. Next door is Booths supermarket with a big emphasis on very good quality local produce. Walk down the hill into town and make your first stop the Peter Hall & Son boutique for beautiful handmade homeware, furnishings & interior accessories. Also Forget Me Not Interiors and Capdella for home and gift ideas. Clayton’s and Huddleston’s are both family run butchers in the centre of town. Stop here for Cumberland sausage! Gina Ricci shoes are hard to resist a browse, close by is Musgraves, which is a good old fashioned hardware shop that stocks everything ironmongery! ~ Make your way down to Bowness by car or foot and stop at local artist Rebecca Cropper’s shop and studio, and also family run Cook House art gallery. The Herdy shop has gifts all featuring the iconic Lake District Herdwick sheep. Daniella Draper’s jewellery shop showcases her stunning jewellery designs. The Bath House Shop for luxury scents and toiletries handmade in Cumbria. Keeping with the Cumbrian theme on Ash Street, hand made chocolates at Helens Chocolates and also Love the Lakes for inspired gifts, toiletries, ornaments, food and drink. And of course Peter Rabbit and friends, the Beatrix Potter shop!.
9. Messing about on the water.
In the summer season 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 has 3 screens and offers a great selection of the latest films, in an authentic 1930s setting complete with its own mighty Wurlitzer organ.