Bowness on Windermere – the jewel in the crown of the Lake District

One of the most beautiful natural areas in the UK, Bowness-on-Windermere is largely seen as the jewel in the crown of the Lake District.

This thriving town is situated beside Lake Windermere, the largest lake in England, and offers visitors a wide range of things to see and do. In addition to boasting some of the best boutique hotels and themed hotels in the Lake District, Bowness-on-Windermere is home to hundreds of quirky shops, restaurants, country pubs and some excellent cultural and historical attractions. If you are planning a trip to the Lake District for the first time, or you are looking for a weekend break or a late deal in the region, check out Bowness.

The views from Bowness across Lake Windermere and over to the mountains are some of the best in the Lake District, and the wide range of things to see and do is endless.

Outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy golf, walking, hiking, climbing, water-skiing and sailing, or simply cruising down the lake on one of the authentic steam boats. If you prefer to take things a little bit easier, visit the 15th Century church of St Martin´s, which is situated in a beautiful part of the town. The Windermere Steamboat Centre in Rayrigg Road, houses a unique collection of historic steamboats and motorboats, and special events throughout the season include the British Classic Motorboat, Model Boat and Steamboat Rally.

Bowness is popular with all ages as there is so much to do, and the focus is firmly put on the lakeshore of Bowness Bay. Here you can hire a rowing boat, sail on the steamer or enjoy a leisurely stroll around Lake Windermere, which is also the longest (nearly 11 miles) and deepest lake in England at 67 metres.

Elsewhere in Bowness you will find the World of Beatrix Potter, which provides a great day out for the kids. This is a magical recreation of Beatrix Potter´s books, where you can meet Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-duck and all the characters from her famous stories.

Bowness is busy most of the year, and is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere. The town is Cumbria´s most popular destination, so if you prefer a quieter time on holiday, it is best to visit out of season. Lake Windermere is the best waterway in the region for water sports, swimming and yachting, and it is the only lake in the Lake District which has no speed restriction for water traffic. Boat builders and fishermen can be seen at work on the shoreline, and there are plenty of cafés to stop at and buy refreshments.

Bowness-on-Windermere and William Wordsworth

Well known to the poet, William Wordsworth, Bowness-on-Windermere was frequently visited by several writers and authors. The White Lion pub, which is now the Royal Hotel was a favourite hostelry of Wordsworth´s, and it was mentioned in ´The Prelude.´ The poet also used the ferry to cross Lake Windermere, and mentioned this in some of his most famous works. A car ferry still crosses the lake between Ferry Nab and Ferry House, and provides a convenient approach to the western side of the lake and the villages of Hawkshead and Sawrey.

The history of Bowness-on-Windermere

The Romans and the Vikings once laid claim to Bowness, and it was the Vikings who gave the name ´Bull Ness´ to the town originally. The name changed to Bowness over the years, and it remained a small fishing village until 1847, when the railroad was introduced. Bowness then grew quickly, and hotels began to spring up to accommodate the tourists. Wealthy industrialists built mansions, which later became hotels, and Bowness was planted firmly on the wealthy tourist´s map.

For many years, barges unloaded gravel dredged from the bed of Lake Windermere, where the Steamboat Museum is now situated. Here you can see an impressive collection of Victorian and Edwardian steamboats and motorboats, including the 1850 SL Dolly, which is the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world. The boat lay on the bed of the lake for 67 years before it was salvaged and restored to its former glory.

Today boats from Bowness stop at Ambleside and Lakeside and make circle tours of the lake. A steam launch can also be rented for tours of the lake.

Bowness attractions

One of the most popular attractions near Bowness is Blackwell – the Arts and Crafts House. This Grade 1 listed building opened in 2001, and was designed by MH Baillie Scott between 1897 and 1900 as a family home. Overlooking Lake Windermere, the house now serves as a public gallery for craft and applied arts.

Bowness pubs are legendary. Try the New Hall Inn, commonly known as the Hole in t´Wall Pub, which received its nickname after a thirsty blacksmith next door had a hole knocked in the pub wall to facilitate his access to beer while he was working. The old blacksmith´s shop is now part of the pub and the beamed ceilings and slate floors add to the atmosphere of bygone days.

Bowness now offers visitors some of the most stylish and elegant accommodation in the Lake District. Boutique hotels in Bowness-on-Windermere, mix with friendly guesthouse accommodation, holiday cottages and campsites to offer weary travellers comfort and value in one of the UK´s top tourist destinations. If you want to tour the Lake District, Bowness-on- Windermere is the perfect base, so look out for late hotel deals and special prices for weekend breaks.