Windermere from Brant Fell copyright Dave Willis

Windermere and Ambleside - explore and visit

Windermere in the Lake District is England's largest lake at 10.5 miles long, that's just over 18 km. At its deepest point is 219 feet, that's 66.7 m.

Windermere is also the name of a small town, which lies just over a mile from the lake shore. It's separate from the town of Bowness-on-Windermere, which is one of the busiest place along the shoreline and the main jetties for cruise boats.

Ambleside is one of the most popular towns in the Lake District, sitting at the north end of Windermere lake its a great place to start some of the best know fell walks.

Windermere and the surrounding area is arguably the most famous and popular area in the whole of the Lake District. There are a range of activities, attractions, places of interest and things to do around the lake, and on it!

Lake District Kind

#LakeDistrictKind

Things to know before you go, tips to plan a great trip and help us look after the landscape you love.

Be Lake District Kind

  • Take a boat cruise along part of all of Windermere lake.

  • Beatrix Potter's former home Hill Top

  • Brockhole on Windermere visitor centre

    Brockhole house and gardens, the perfect spot for a picnic.

  • Sunset over Windermere lake.

  • Wray Castle on the shore of Windermere

  • Family in a rowing boat on Windermere

    Enjoy Windermere on the water at Brockhole.

  • Stott Park Bobbin Mill

    Stott Park Bobbin Mill.

  • Windermere jetty museum

    Windermere jetty museum.

  • Blackwell House on the shore of Windermere

    Blackwell House on the shore of Windermere

Windermere lake guide

Windermere lake guide

Our Windermere lake guide shows you where to park, where to catch ferries and hire boats, footpaths and cycle routes to explore and lake shore towns with facilities like toilets and cafes.

Family canoeing on Windermere copyright Windermere Canoe and Kayak

Boat hire and boat trips on Windermere

Sit back and enjoy a cruise on the lake, with optional hop-off points, or hire a canoe, kayak, paddleboard or motor boat.

Towns and villages around Windermere lake

Ambleside

A mile inland from the northern tip of Windermere lakeshore, Ambleside is a bustling town of outdoor equipment shops, bookshops, gift shops, cafes and restaurants and a cinema. Nestled in the valley between various fells, it's the start and end point for many classic lakeland walks.

Waterhead

At the northern tip of the lake, you can take a launch from the piers here south down towards Bowness. There are also some cafes and hotels.

Bowness-on-Windermere

Half way down Windermere, and a mile and a half downhill from Windermere village and its railway station. Pop into our Bowness Bay Information Centre, shop, eat, get an icecream and watch the bustle of the steamers arriving and departing from Bowness Bay. You can also hire rowing boats.

Windermere

Windermere is just over one mile from the lake and is where the Oxenholme to Windermere railway line terminates. It is a busy little town with a good variety of local shops. The flagship store for Lakeland is situated close to the railway station. There is also a branch of Booths supermarket.

Lakeside

Right at the southern foot of Windermere's Western shore, you can find the Lakes Aquarium, one end of the Haverthwaite Steam Railway or take a launch north.

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Walking and hiking around Windermere

There's a great variety of walks, from low-level lakeside ambles to felltop hikes where you feel on the roof of the world! Browse through some ideas here:

Miles without Stiles easy short walks

The Greenwood Trails

A collection of walks in Rusland, an area that stretches between Winderemere and Coniston Water to the south of Grizedale forest.

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Places to visit with families around Windermere

Brockhole on Windermere visitor centre

Brockhole on Windermere

Enjoy the famous adventure playground, paddle in the lake, and explore the fabulous Mawson designed gardens with good pushchair and wheelchair access. Hire a boat on the lake, with motor boats, rowing boats, kayaks and paddle boards for hire. Challenge yourself with archery, laser clay or inside caving. Gift shop, cafe, and The Gaddum restaurant on site. Free admission. Pay and display car park.

  • Fell Foot Park

    This Victorian park, restored to its former glory, offers substantial access to the lakeshore, where there are leisure facilities. Fine picnic areas, a cafe and rowing boat and kayak hire make it an ideal day out for families.
  • Lakes Aquarium

    Go on a journey of discovery! Set on the lakeshore, this award winning attraction has the UK's largest collection of freshwater fish.
  • Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

    Hard working steam locomotives travel three and half miles into the Leven Valley. Take a return journey or combine your trip with a lake cruise or a visit to the Aquarium of the Lakes.
  • World of Beatrix Potter

    All of Beatrix Potter's tales are brought to life in three dimensions. An indoor re-creation of the Lakeland countryside, complete with sights, sounds and even smells.
  • Wray Castle

    Families can explore the grounds and lakeshore, with plenty of places for a paddle and a picnic. The castle has exhibitions inside (free for National Trust members) and a cafe and toilets.

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Historic houses and museums around Windermere

  • Beatrix Potter's Hill Top and Gallery

    Children's author, artist, farmer and conservationist. Find out more about this amazing woman and the real places which so inspired her.
  • Blackwell - The Arts and Crafts House

    Overlooking the lake, this Arts and Crafts housel has fine examples of decorative arts, furniture and objects inspired by nature. There are superb examples of stained glass, carved oak and iron work.
  • Stott Park Bobbin Mill - English Heritage

    A fully working Victorian mill, Stott Park is typical of the many mills which once supplied the spinning and weaving industry.
  • Townend - National Trust

    Typical Lakeland farmer's house from the seventeenth century with all original interiors, woodwork and domestic implements
  • Windermere Jetty

    Hear tales of workers and boat owners, their lives and adventures, and discover the fascinating developments in design and technology that drove boat-building in the Lake District. Stunning views over the lake from the cafe.

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Travel around Windermere

Buses around Windermere

Buses stop at Windermere train station, Troutbeck, Waterhead, Ambleside, Lakeside and Newby Bridge. See Traveline.info for timetables.

  • #599 Windermere to Bowness
  • #555/556 Windermere Kendal Ambleside Grasmere and Keswick
  • #6 Lakeside, Newby Bridge and Ulverston
  • #508 Troutbeck and Ullswater
  • Cross Lakes Experience link from Ferry House to Hill Top and Hawkshead

Train to Windermere station

Oxenholem the Lake District is on the main West Cost mainline and from here there is a branchline to Windermere. Oxenholme to Windermere takes approximately half an hour. Windermere station is about a mile and half from the lake, which takes about half an hour to walk, or you can catch the #599 bus. See nationalrail.co.uk for timetables.

Bike hire around Windermere and Ambleside

Try out pedal power for a whole new perspective of Windermere! Hire bikes from:

Ferry

The Windermere Ferry links Ferry Nab on the eastern shore of Windermere with Ferry House, Far Sawrey on the west. It's a handy shortcut for Hawkshead, Grizedale forest and Kendal. It is a drive-on, drive-off service where car passengers stay in their cars, with space for 18 cars.

Need more help? Pop in to Bowness Bay Information Centre

Waterfront at Bowness Bay

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