Family canoeing on Windermere copyright Windermere Canoe and Kayak
Family canoeing on Windermere

On the water around Windermere

Boat hire

Boats can be hired from Waterhead, Low Wood, Bowness, Brockhole - The Lake District Visitor Centre and Fell Foot Park. These vary from rowing boats to sailing boats or self-drive motor boats.

Cruises

Take to the water to truly experience Windermere. The many different options and tickets allow you to hop off, walk back or just sit back and watch the mountains, woodlands and islands unfold before you.

To plan your own voyage of discovery, take a look at Windermere Lake Cruises (opens in new window).

Canoeing

Fishing

Windermere has arctic charr, brown trout, pike, perch, roach and eels, salmon and sea trout. Find out more on our Fishing page.

Sailing

Follow in the footsteps, or rather wake, of Arthur Ransome's "Swallows and Amazons" and take up dinghy sailing! These places offer courses:

For keeled yachts:

Sailing Clubs

Waterskiing and Powerboating

Ferry

A car ferry links Ferry Nab on the eastern shore of Windermere with Ferry House, Far Sawrey on the west. For details see Travel around Windermere.

SwimSafe code

Be Seen, have support

Swimmers may be able to see boaters but boaters may not be able to see swimmers!

  • Have a safety boat or canoe support displaying a white and blue Alpha flag Blue and white Alpha flag, warning of divers or swimmers in the water.
  • Wear a bright swim cap and tow a bright float.
  • Never swim alone.

Take a look at the photos below. If you were steering a boat, which swimmer is easier to spot?

Showing how much easier a swimmer is to spot when next to a support boat

Be Water wise

Exposure to cool water can rapidly lead to hypothermia

  • Wear a wetsuit to keep you warmer and more buoyant.
  • Enter the water slowly to get used to it.
  • Check the depth and the water bed by walking in carefully.
  • Don't jump in.

Be Informed

Other people use the lakes too! Windermere, Derwentwater, Coniston Water and Ullswater are busy with boats. People on boats may struggle to see swimmers. A collision with any boat can be fatal.

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Be Mindful

  • Choose one of the quieter lakes that do not allow boats.
  • Avoid mooring areas, marinas and jetties used by boats, ferry routes and boating channels.
  • Be aware boaters may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.
  • Only swim when weather conditions are suitable - remember they can change quickly. 

BoatSafe code

Be aware

  • A white and blue Alpha flag Blue and white Alpha flag, warning of divers or swimmers in the water means there is a swimmer or diver in the water.
  • Keep a look out. Swimmers are not easy to see.
  • Make yourself aware of the lake byelaws for the National Park's lakes.
  • If you are using a powerboat, make sure you have had suitable training.
  • Know your lake.

Observe

Swimmers and other lake users may be in any area of the lake at any time of day or night.

  • Maintain a proper lookout for swimmers and other boats.
  • Swimmers can be very difficult to see, especially when there are waves or sun glare.

Avoid

  • Keep as far away from swimmers and their support boats as possible.
  • Boats supporting swimmers can not move out of your way.
  • Your wash can put swimmers and other lake users into serious difficulty.
  • Slow down and keep a safe distance.

Turn off engine

  • Always wear a kill cord, and make sure it is attached to the driver of the boat.
  • In an emergency, if you do get too close to a swimmer, turn off your engine to stop injury from propellers.
  • In an emergency ring 999 and ask for the coastguard. 

Print out a handy guide

Full version

Boat launching and storage

Ferry Nab is the main public launching area with a public car park, toilet and shower facilities, public jetties, sailing dinghy storage and tender storage. It's the only public slipway available for power boats and large boats.

Small motor boats (five horsepower or less) may launch from Waterhead. Sailing dinghies, canoes and rowing boats may be launched from several areas on National Trust land, Rayrigg Meadow and Beech Hill.

There are several private and commercial launching points, predominately on the eastern shore. These include sailing and power boat clubs, caravan parks, commercial jetties and marinas and several outdoor pursuit and activity centres.

Greener Boating video

A fun take on how to keep Windermere healthy by Windermere Reflections:

On the water: useful links

Need more help? Pop in!

Waterfront at Bowness Bay

This page is brought to you by the staff of Bowness Bay Information Centre.

We can help you with booking accommodation, tickets or attractions. See us on the south side of Bowness Bay, home to Bowness Information Centre.