Georgian roundhouse on Belle Isle, Windermere copyright LDNPA

Windermere: islands

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.

Lady Holme

  • 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.

Hen Holme

Used as a starting point for yacht races in the summer

Crow Holme

Once used to kennel the local hounds of the Windermere Harriers

The Lilies

  • Named after the wild flowers that once grew there
  • In the 18th century tourists rowed there to pick the flowers

Silver Holme

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
  • Ladyholme
  • 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

Need more help? Pop in!

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