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Lake Windermere is a gorgeous part of the Lake District, everyone wants to go there but that means it can get pretty busy too, especially in the Summer and in High Season. I visited Lake Windermere at the Bowness-on-Windermere end for half a day on my 3 Day Lake District Explorer Tour with Rabbie’s Tour. As we drove into Bowness Bay on the edge of Lake Windermere I couldn’t believe how gorgeous the lake was but as soon as I got off the bus and walked further into the bay I couldn’t believe how busy it was, even on a Thursday, and it wasn’t even school holidays yet! So instead of waiting in a huge queue for a boat trip like many other people were I went and did 3 things to avoid the crowds to Lake Windermere.
If you’re looking for things to do in Lake Windermere, either to avoid the crowds or something that is slightly different I would recommend doing these things:
1 – Go on an Evening Cruise around Lake Windermere
A Boat Trip around Lake Windermere is a must I think but as I said, the queues for a day time boat trip were huge and the boats were totally packed with people too which isn’t my idea of an enjoyable boat trip.
Luckily in the Summer, an activity that Lake Windermere offers is an Evening Cruise starting at 8:00pm-9:15pm for £11.50 per adult ticket. This is slightly more expensive than the daytime cruises (I believe they are about £8.50) but I think it’s worth it. Although I was slightly worried the boat might sell out as there is only one Evening Cruise available, when I got to the ticket counter at 7:15pm they still has tickets available.
I went to the Lake District in July which was a great time to visit and because the evenings were still light as we reached the end of Lake Windermere in Ambleside we literally saw the sun go down into the clouds in front of us and then into the Mountains. As we were sailing away the sky was lit behind us in gorgeous pastel colours which continued until we docked, it was so beautiful!
If there is an Evening Cruise on offer I would really suggest going as this is a great thing to do in Lake Windermere!
For accommodation around Lake Windermere, have a look at this post:
2 – Walk up to Orrest Head
If you want to see an incredible view in the Lake District and over Lake Windermere, take a walk up to Orrest Head! The best thing is is that the walk is not even that strenuous either!
As I had decided to do an Evening Cruise I was suddenly left with a few hours spare looking for things to do. Luckily a friend wrote a comment on my Instagram photo saying that I should walk up to Orrest Head and it was such a great suggestion!
From Bowness Bay I walked through Bowness-on-Windermere Town and up to Windemere Town and although the walk was ok and only slightly uphill it was a lot further than I thought and took a good 20-30 minutes. From the town of Windermere I followed the footpath of which most of it was signposted, all the way to the top of Orrest Head. The walk is definitely uphill (that’s why the view is so good) but it was quite a gradual incline rather than being really steep.
I was pleased I had my trusty summer walking shoes on, especially as I saw many other people walking with difficulty in their flip flops and dolly shoes. I would recommend wearing trainers or walking shoes if you have them!
The footpath walk is pretty shady which was nice as it was a hot day when I went, this however meant that there weren’t many views a long the way so when I got to the top I was pretty shocked and stunned by the 360 view I was greeted with!
A. Wainwright said when he got to the top of Orrest Head in 1930 ‘These few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life’ and I can see what he means!
There are quite a few benches at the top to take in the views from and in my opinion this is such a good thing to do in Lake Windermere no matter what time of year it is, but especially if it’s busy as not everyone will want to do the walk and climb.. even though it’s really not that bad, and took me about 45 minutes in total each way when walking quite fast from Bowness-on-Windermere town.
3 – Walk around the edge of Lake Windermere
Just because you see everyone sitting around Bowness Bay on Lake Windermere when you arrive on foot, by bus or by driving this doesn’t mean there isn’t more of the Lake to be seen close by.
Walk down Glebe Road past the car park and continue to go straight, walking away from Bowness Bay, go through a gate and you’ll be on a footpath that takes you out onto the Lake further up. It was so much quieter here when I went, there are no shops or boat piers selling tickets, just people lying on the grass enjoying the sun and taking a walk by Lake Windermere.
If you keep following the footpath around you end up at another small bay. There’s also a footpath that goes inland and links back up with Glebe Road and even though you’re so close to the town and so much civilisation, these few meters of footpaths really made me feel like I was in the middle of the Countryside, even though I was, but elsewhere it was quite busy, and here it wasn’t at all!
I hope these things help give you an idea of activities to do in Lake Windermere and things to do in Lake Windermere on a busy day especially to help avoid the crowds!
Looking for accommodation in Lake Windermere? I suggest these hotels:
Budget – Oakfold House
Mid Range – Craig Manor Hotel
Splurge – Burnside Hotel & Spa
Windermere Town has a train station and there are regular public buses connecting the areas so if you want to travel there independently, check the best train times and prices on The Train Line.
To see what I got up to during my full 3 days in the Lake District have a read of this post:
For more of my England Adventures have a look here:
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