Any visitor to the glorious Lake District mustn’t leave the region without having sailed down, across or around Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake.
Windermere Lake Cruises operate a fleet of well-equipped vessels around the lake, most offering undercover and outside seating, toilets and refreshments.
Cruises last from 45 minutes to three hours. Alternatively, you can spend all day on the water or jump on and off at the various piers around the lake, such as Waterhead and Bowness-on-Windermere, and explore the immediate area. For this, a Freedom of the Lake ticket offers the best value for money: during the 2013 season, a family ticket cost £48.50, adult’s £18 and children’s (aged 5-15) £9.
Whatever cruise you pick, you won’t be disappointed because you’re offered a glimpse of this stunning landscape from an entirely new perspective.
My family and I enjoyed sailing from Lakeside at Newby Bridge, situated at the southern end of the lake. We parked in the large car park but before boarding the steamer bound for Bowness-on-Windermere, visited attractions nearby. Next-door to the pier is the Lakes Aquarium, where over 30 displays afford visitors a look into the world around us; for example, you can take a “journey” below Lake Windermere. Well, it’s pretty realistic because you’re walking along an underground tunnel while the fish swimming above you are the very species found in the lake.
Another attraction nearby is the Lakeland Motor Museum, located on the banks of the River Leven; then there is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway. A visit to all these places can be combined with a cruise, so check for ticket offers.
Decent cafés, serving drinks and snacks, are found at the lion’s share of stops around the lake. There is a particularly nice caff on the pier at Waterhead, at the northern end of the lake. It overlooks the water and is worth a visit.
Wherever you sail, just sit back, relax and take in the wonderful scenery surrounding you. Travelling from Lakeside to Waterhead, the view of the Fairfield Horseshoe – a hillwalking ridge walk which is a personal favourite of mine – never fails to impress.
A trip on Lake Windermere is highly recommended.
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