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
Pop in to Bowness Bay Information Centre for help and advice
We can help you with booking tickets and attractions, ideas for walks places to visit, and we've got a range of guidbooks, maps and gifts. See us on the south side of Bowness Bay, home to Bowness Information Centre.