There are 18 islands on Windermere. The largest is Belle Isle and is privately owned. You can see them by:
Find out more on our Windermere Islands page.
There have been many visitors to Windermere in history, not all of them earthbound!
This sixteenth century manor house was owned by Kraster Cook and his wife Dorothy. Their neighbour was local Justice of the Peace Myles Philipson who wanted to buy the house, but the Cooks didn't want to sell.
To get his hands on the property, Myles accused the Cooks of theft, judged them and condemned them to death. However before she died, Dorothy cursed Calgarth promising that their screaming skulls would haunt the Hall night and day until the Philipsons left and that the family would never prosper.
Two skulls did indeed take up residence in Calgarth, and despite many attempts to get rid of them, including throwing them into the lake, they always returned. Myles Philipson had to sell his land to pay off debts, leaving only Calgarth which his son sold after his death.
The skulls never appeared again. And in 1705 the last member of the Philipson family died.
In the 12th century a wild boar terrorised pilgrims who entered the woods between Kendal and Windermere. Richard de Gylpin killed the boar and was rewarded with the manor of Kentmere.
On stormy nights centuries ago, the ferrymen at Ferry Nab would often hear strange calls for the boat to come across the water but were too afraid to go. One night a young ferryman scoffed at their fears and rowed across. On his return whatever he had seen had terrified him so much that he couldn't speak, and the next day he died.
The local people asked a monk who lived on one of the islands in Windermere to exorcise the ghost. On Christmas Day he took a bell and bible across the lake, and confined the ghost to the quarry and woods "until men should walk dryshod across the lake".
To this day there are stories of walkers being followed by a hooded figure at dusk on the heights of Claife...
When harm is about to come to the neighbourhood around the lake, it is said a ghostly white horse walks on the water from shore to shore.
The Tizzie-Whizie was allegedly first spotted by a Bowness boatman around 1900. He regaled tourists in the town’s Stag’s Head Hotel about his thrilling encounter with the extraordinary creature.
Shy, water-loving creatures, Tizzie-Wizzies are reputed to have the body of a hedgehog, the tail of a squirrel or fox and a pair of bee-like wings.
From "A Boatman's Grandson": This one was captured in 1906, struggling and squealing, it was rushed to Louis Herbert's Photographic Studio, opposite St Martin's Church. Having calmed it down with some warm milk and morsels of ginger biscuit he took this immortal portrait of the Tizzie Whizie, before it jumped off his table and flew out of the window to regain its freedom.
It had a very faint cry, which could just be heard if you had your ear at water level. Many thousands of postcards were sold from this one photograph. The boatmen used to conduct Tizzie Whizie hunts and the evasive Tizzie Whizie would invariably finish under one of the piers and one of the tourists engaged in the hunt would be 'accidentally' pushed into the lake !
Sometimes the boatmen would say that it had escaped to Belle Isle and if any of the hunt followers wished they could be taken across the lake to look for it. When asked why they couldn't see it flying across the lake, the reply was 'because it was a very good underwater swimmer'.
One American visitor offered £5 reward for its capture, either dead or alive!
You can make your own Beast of Bowness - check out our Funzone!
There have been repeated sightings of an unidentified creature in the southern end of Windermere.
After the glacial waters of the last Ice Age receded, the arctic charr fish became land-locked in Windermere. There are at least four distinct and separate populations, with spring and autumn spawning populations in the north and south of the lake. Autumn spawners lay their eggs in relatively shallow water, while spring spawners use much deeper water.
Related to salmon, charr taste like a delicate version of sea trout and are popular potted or in pies. They are still caught on the lake today, in season from July to October.
The most successful method of catching charr is bright metal spinners being trailed on long lines deep into the water. Charr fishermen row along the lake to keep the lures moving continually.
To see the unusual colouring of these fish for yourself - silver, olive green and even scarlet - visit the Lakes Aquarium (opens in new window).
We can help you with booking accommodation, tickets or attractions. See us on the south side of Bowness Bay, home to Bowness Information Centre.