Manchester and the English Lake District


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by John Moss
unless otherwise attributed

Bowness on Windermere

Windermere is the largest natural lake
in England. It has been one of the country’s most popular places
for holidays and summer homes since 1847, thanks largely to the arrival
of the railway at Windermere town.

Aerial photograph of Bowness on Windermere © Webb Aviation
Aerial photograph
of Bowness on Windermere © Webb Aviation (

Windermere and Bowness or two separate
townships, though the name ‘Bowness-on-Windermere’ often confuses visitors,
who, believing that they have visited Windermere, have actually just
spent the day in Bowness. The bustling little town is probably the most
popular tourist destination in the English Lakes. Located on the shore
of Windermere, midway between Waterhead at its northern limit, and Lakeside
at its southern. It developed after the opening of the railway line
from Oxenholme and Kendal to Windermere in 1847. Bowness was the nearest
accessible point on the lake.

Bowness is busy throughout the year,
not only for sailing and watersports, but for its English “seaside”
atmosphere and pleasant lakeside paths. It is only about 1½ hours
drive from central Manchester and is thereby very popular as a day trip
for for the family.
This is a busy,
bustling town that boasts hundreds of shops, eating and drinking establishments
and many fine cultural and historical attractions. The views from
Bowness out across the lake and up to the mountains are some of the
finest in the Lake District.
The 15th
century church of St Martin is set back from the main street in a
leafy enclave. The lakeside town is popular with all ages, with a
bustling focus on the lakeshore at Bowness Bay.
Many leisure activilites abound here, ranging from rowing boat hire
for a short foray out onto the lake itself, to sailing on the ‘steamer’
taking visitors further out across England’s longest lake (about 11
miles long). Bowness also boasts “The
World of Beatrix Potter Attraction”,
as well as the
collection of sailing craft at the Windermere Steamboat Museum, just
a mile uphill from the village centre. Boats from the lakeside piers
in Bowness sail around the lake, many calling at Ambleside or at Lakeside
where there is a restored railway. Readers of Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows
and Amazons” and will recognise Bowness as the lakeside town
of ‘Rio’.


The township of
Windermere is actually about half a mile away from the lake after
which it was named. Although the town does not touch the lake, it
has now grown together with the older lakeside town of Bowness-on-Windermere,
though the two retain distinguishable town centres – essentially,
Bowness is at the bottom of the hill and Windermere is at the top,
about a half hour’s walk away. There are a number of museums, but
the town has few tourist attractions as such, but does have a mainline
railway station. The town offers a most beautiful view of the surrounding
mountains .
Windermere town
was known as Birthwaite prior to the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere
Railway, which stimulated its development. Windermere station offers
train and bus connections to the surrounding area, Manchester, Manchester
Airport, and the West Coast Main Line.

Tourist Information

Regrettably, there
is no longer a Tourist Information Centre in Bowness or Windermere
– the nearest is at either Ambleside or Coniston.

See Also: Lakes
Tourist Information Centres

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© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 24 Nov 11.