Rushbearing tradition at Ambleside
There are 18 islands on Windermere. Many are called ‘holme’ after the local word for ‘island’, which originates from the old Norse language.
Visiting the islands
- You can hire a boat from Bowness and row or sail yourself around the central islands. Remember Belle Isle is private.
- The cruise boats on Windermere offer ‘Round the Lakes’ cruises.
- The car-passenger ferry passes many of the central islands. Foot passengers can look southwards down the lake.
- Also known as St. Mary Holme
- Named after the chapel that used to exist on the island
Belle Isle (privately owned)
- Largest island on the lake, lies across Bowness Bay in the centre of Windermere
- One mile long. Used to be known as the Great Island.
- It is rumoured that the Roman commander at Ambleside, four miles away, built a villa here as a pleasure house.
- During the Civil War it was a Royalist stronghold of the local Philipson family.
- The unusual circular house was started in 1774. Wordsworth was deeply unimpressed, describing the house as looking like a tea canister in a shop window.
- Seven years later the island was bought on behalf of the heiress Isabella Curwen by her cousin John Christian, who later became her husband.
- Formerly known as Long Holme, the island was renamed by John Christian in honour of his new wife.
- The island is privately owned, so please do not attempt to land on it.
Used as a starting point for yacht races in the summer
Once used to kennel the local hounds of the Windermere Harriers
- Named after the wild flowers that once grew there
- In the 18th century tourists rowed there to pick the flowers
Was the inspiration for Cormorant Island in Arthur Ransome’s "Swallows and Amazons" books.
Full list of islands
- Bee Holme
- Belle Isle
- Blake Holme
- Crag Holme - known locally as Otter Holme
- Crow Holme
- Fir Holme - known locally as Birk or Birch Holme
- Grass Holme
- Lilies of the Valley East and West
- Ling Holme
- Hawes Holme
- Hen Holme
- Maiden Holme
- Ramp Holme
- Rough Holme
- Snake Holme
- Thompson Holme
- Silver Holme
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