12 Best Things to Do in Windemere (Lake District, UK)

Are you wondering what are the best things to do in Windemere? When my husband and I went to the Lake District region of the UK, we stayed at the caravan park near Windemere. I loved our visit to the charming village of Windmere. Let me share with you some of the best things to do in Windemere in the Lake District, UK to help you plan your trip.

Windermere is a beautiful lakeside town in the southeastern part of the Lake District. Because of a large selection of accommodations and a number of developed infrastructure, Windermere is a favourite tourist destination and one of the best places to visit in the UK. It is particularly popular in the high-end tourism market, with a number of boating clubs and summer homes located in this area. 

Roughly translating to ‘mere’ and ‘lake,’ this resort town is named after its neighbouring lake, the Windermere Lake. Located in the county of Cumbria, it was previously known as Birthwaite and was renamed Windermere in 1849. The development of the Kendal and Windermere Railway in 1847 opened the town for tourism and transformed the town into a popular holiday and summer destination. 

I wrote another article about the Best Things to Do in Lake District if you are interested to know more about the Lake District region.

Best Things to Do in Windemere (Lake District, UK)

Windermere Lake

Stephen and I at Windemere Lake District
Best Things to Do in Windemere: Stephen and I at Windemere Lake

Windermere Lake is considered to be the largest lake in England, with almost 11 miles in length and 1 mile in width. Formed about 17,000 and 14,700 years ago, this ribbon lake has 18 islands or ‘holmes.’ It is about a mile from Windermere village and is part of the Lake District National Park.

There are several water activities to be enjoyed around and within the lake. Lake cruises, ferries, and steamers are some of the most popular ways for guests to explore the lake. Visitors can also enjoy water sports activities such as yacht sailing, rowing and water-skiing.

Guests opting to enjoy the view of the lake can also take any of the several footpaths around the lake shore. Glamping is also now becoming a popular activity around Windermere Lake.

Wray Castle

Wray Castle is one of the few grand mansions located around Windermere Lake. This imposing structure is famous for its Victorian neo-Gothic architectural design and church-like interior.

Wray Castle in Windemere Lake District
Best Things to Do Windemere: Visit Wray Castle

Despite its name, Wray Castle was originally built to be a private home for Liverpool surgeon Dr James Dawson. The first and only design of John Jackson Lightfoot, who died before it was finished, the castle was later completed by H.P.Hormer. It was later acquired by the National Trust and had been used for several purposes before it was opened to the public in 2011. Famed author Beatrix Potter even stayed at the Wray Castle in 1882 when she was 16 years old.

Nowadays, Wray Castle is a favourite tourist destination for families. There are footpaths around the estate that families can enjoy. There is also an exhibit of 19th-century photographs taken by Rupert Potter, father of Beatrix Potter. The collection of photos shows the original interiors of Wray Castle, landscape sceneries during his time, and private family photos.

For more information, visit the Wray Castle webpage

World of Beatrix Potter museum and Hill Top

For the kids and the kids at heart, and anyone who loves Beatrix Potter will surely enjoy The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction. This tourist spot celebrates the life and works of the beloved author and illustrator, who wrote 30 books in her lifetime, 23 of which are children’s books. Her most famous book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, has been translated into 36 languages and sold about 45 million copies.

Beatrix Potter in the Lake District
Best Things to Do in Windemere: Beatrix Potter in the Lake District

Since its opening in July of 1991, the museum has been bringing the beloved Beatrix Potter illustrated characters to life through detailed lifesize sculptures. Recently, the museum has been incorporating 3D digital projections to enhance the visitor’s experience. There are also monthly scheduled events and activities lined up.

For more information, check out The World of Beatrix Potter website.

Aside from the museum, fans of the beloved author can also get a glimpse of her life by visiting Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top. The author bought the farmhouse in 1905 and it still houses some of Beatrix’s personal belongings. The Hill Top House has also retained most of its original design so as to keep with how Beatrix viewed them for her illustrations.

Rydall Cave

Fans of the Netflix series The Witcher will recognize this large cavern on the northern slopes of Loughrigg Fell. That’s because the area of the Rydall Cave was used as one of the shooting locations for the series. It can be viewed in the seventh episode, titled Voleth Meir, of season 2, where the bard Jaskier took a bath after Geralt rescued him from the Oxenfurt Prison.

Don’t be deceived though. Despite its rough and natural appearance, this Lakeland spot used to be a mine called Loughrigg Quarry during the 19th century. The slate from the cave was extracted to create the traditional roof slate of houses during that time, such as the one used by the Bridge House in Ambleside. There used to be several quarry mines in the area, but Rydall Cave is the only one left and preserved. The only remnants of its mine quarry history are the stepping stones on the shallow lake at the cave entrance.

Long abandoned, this man-made cavern is now open for the public to explore for free. Although it’s tucked away in the woodland and can only be accessed on foot, there are several starting points to get to the cave, such as the ones from White Moss Car Park (about 30 minutes); Grasmere (45 minutes); Rydal Village (20 minutes); Ambleside (50 minutes); and Loughrig Fell (30 minutes).

Blackwell

The Blackwell Arts and Craft House is a Grade 1 house that is one of only a few surviving houses from the 20th century. Designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott between 1897 and 1901, it was originally intended as a holiday home for the family of Sir Edward and Lady Holt. Its well-preserved interior and exterior design are one of the best examples of the Arts and Crafts movement. Its design is considered to be a cross between Victorian and Modern architecture. The Blackwell garden, on the other hand, was designed by Thomas Mawson last 1902.

BW Terraces and Lake © Tony West
Best things to do in Windemere: Visit the Blackwell Arts and Craft House
Photo credit: BW Terraces and Lake © Tony West

Recently restored in 2001, it now operates as a museum. Aside from displaying art collections, the museum also regularly hosts art events. There is also a Tea Room and a shop offering local products.

For schedule and other information, visit the Blackwell website.

Claife Viewing Station

If you’re looking for a unique — and very colourful — scenery of Windermere Lake, then the Claife Viewing Station is the best place to be. Situated atop Claife Heights, it offers one of the most panoramic and unobstructed landscape views of Windermere Lake.

Claife Heights in Windemere lake District UK
Best things to do in Windemere: Hike to the summit of Claife Heights

This Victorian structure is also most recognized for its eye-catching tinted windows of varying colours. The coloured glasses of its drawing room were designed to recreate how the view of Windermere Lake would look during every season. Visitors can look through the yellow-tinted glass and see Windermere Lake as it would be in the summer season; orange for autumn; light green for spring; and light blue for autumn. The windows also have dark blue tinted glass to give the impression of moonlight, and lilac for thunderstorms.

Built in the 1790s, it is also one of the oldest tourist attractions built around Windermere Lake. Aside from being a viewpoint, it was also an event venue for dinner dances and parties for wealthy people during the 1830s and 1840s. As described by Mary Maria Higginson, a guest at one of the lavish dinner dances held there, “the winding walks around the Station lightened up with Chinese lanterns and coloured lamps made charming promenades.”

Nowadays, the Claife Viewing Station can be accessed by the general public via a footpath from the ferry crossing or by biking along the west shore path. While there, guests can also take a sample of the local food at the café in the courtyard, named Joey’s Café, where coffee and pastries are available. 

Orrest Head

One of the best ways to appreciate Windermere Lake’s landscape is from the top of Orrest Head. This hill on the northern edge of Windermere offers a stunning 360-degree view of Windermere and central fells. The picturesque view from the Orrest Head is said to have enchanted the then 23-year-old Alfred Wainwright so much that he was inspired to later write A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. This seven-volume book, in turn, is also credited to be one of the main factors for the tourist influx to the Lake District. As described by Wainwright in his autobiographical book Ex-Fellwanderer,

“…quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view…”

Alfred Wainwright

Orrest Head is accessible from the railway station and the town centre. It is also part of Lake District National Park’s Miles without Stiles route, a trail that can be taken by people on wheelchairs, pushchairs, and visually-impaired individuals.

For detailed information about the Orrest Head trail, check here.

Miller Ground and Adelaide Hill

If you’re looking for a footrail that gives an up-close view of Lake Windermere, then you will love the Miller Ground footpath. Located on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere, along this footpath are remnants of WW2 warfare. This trail will also lead to the Miller Ground area, which is one of only a few spots where the lakeshore is accessible to the public. The Miller Ground area is about 2 km north of Bowness or about 20 minutes walk from the village of Windermere. Further north of the path, there are also the old Windermere Bathing Pools and the Lower Miller Ground Tower, a 17th-century bell tower.

Along the Miller, Ground trail is a boulder with a plaque marking the place where Dowager Queen Adelaide, Queen Victorian’s aunt, set foot on the 26th of July 1840. Further up the trail is Queen Adelaide Hill. It was previously named Rayrigg Bank before it was renamed after Queen Adelaide. 

Watersports and boating experience (canoe, kayak, water surfing and ferry ride)

For the reason that the central attraction of Windermere is its lake, a visit to Windermere is not complete without trying on some water activities. Guests can rent out, or bring their own, canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards. For some adrenaline rush, there’s also water skiing and sailing. Group activities such as dragon boat racing are also becoming popular. Windermere Lake is also an ideal place for swimming.

Water sports and activities in Windemere Lake District
Best things to do in Windemere: Water sports and activities in Windemere Lake

Visitors can also take Lake Cruises, which operates about 100 daily trips during the summer and will take you about 45 minutes to 3 hours around Lake Windermere. There are also options for visitors to rent out private boats or yachts.

Lakeland Motor Museum

Walk down the memory lane – or rather, drive into it – with the Lakeland Motor Museum. A haven for car enthusiasts, the car museum has over 30,000 exhibits of motor cars, motorbikes, cycles, and other automobile memorabilia. Located in Leven Valley, near the Newby Bridge in Windermere Lake, it has been exhibiting rare car collections for more than 50 years.

The motor museum houses about 140 rare antique cars, petrol pumps, enamel advertising signs, pedal cars, and more. Some of the displays include exhibits celebrating Isle of Man TT or Tourist Trophy and Vincent motorcycles. The museum also has an exhibit titled Campbell Bluebird, a display dedicated to Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald, who are both speed record holders. Donald Campbell, in particular, broke eight world speed records, both on land and water. Aside from exhibiting motor vehicles, the museum has lifelike recreations of historical events.

For more information, visit the Lakeland Motor Museum website.

Stott Park Bobbin Mill

For some educational tours about the industrial heritage of making wooden bobbins, the Stott Park Bobbin Mill is your next stop.

Stott Park Bobbin Mill in Windemere
Best Things to do in Windemere: Visit the Stott Park Bobbin Mill

Located near Newby Bridge, the 19th-century mill produces a quarter of a million bobbins per week. Built by local landowner John Harrison in 1835, the mill only ceased operations in 1971. As the only surviving bobbin mill left in Lake District today, it is an excellent reminder of the wooden bobbin trade that used to be a thriving industry in Lake District.

Now a working museum, visitors of Stott Park Bobbin Mill can witness first-hand the process of turning a raw wood block into bobbins. Kids will also enjoy a trail called Bob’s Adventure, where special bobbin pins are used for a quiz game.

For scheduled visits and other information, check out the Stott Park Bobbin Mill website.

Belle Isle

With an area of about 16.8 hectares, Belle Isle is the largest of the 18 islands found in Windermere Lake. It is also the only one that previously had formal residents, who lived privately on the famed Island House up until 1993.

Belle Isle in Windemere Lake District
Best Things to do in Windemere: Visit the Belle Isle

Built in 1774, Island House’s architecture is reminiscent of the old Pantheon building in ancient Rome. It is famous for its four-column portico and the circular design, as designed by John Plaw. The villa was later sold to the Curwen family, who renamed the island after their daughter, Isabella Curwen; hence, Belle Isle.

Although currently uninhabited, Belle Isle remains private property. You can still get a glimpse of this magnificent structure by taking a cruise or renting out a boat on Lake Windermere.

Travelling to and around Windermere

There are a number of ways that tourists can get to Windermere. Here are some of them:

By train. Windermere has a direct train route coming from Manchester. Visitors coming from London or Glasgow can also take the West Coast to the mainline and transfer to the Oxenholme terminal. The Oxenholme local trains travel along Kendal, Staveley, and Windermere.

By bus. The National Express coaches have bus stops at the Windermere terminal. There are also mini bus tours that tourists can book.

By lake cruise. Passenger cruises are also a great way to explore Windermere. Visitors can travel with the general public, or rent out a private cruise. For schedules and prices of the Windermere Lake Cruise, check here.

By ferry. There is also the Windermere Ferry, a cable ferry operated by the Cumbria County Council which crosses the lake from the Bowness-on-Windermere to Far Sawrey. For prices and schedule, check here.

By walking or cycling. Exploring Windermere is best taken via footpaths. There are Miles without Stiles routes around Windermere. Visitors can also take guided walks. Cycling is also a popular way to get around the area, and bikes are allowed on most ferries.

By car. Via the M6 motorway, use Junction 36 and then A591. This will take you to the southern part of the Lake District and on Windermere and Keswick road.

Best time to visit Windermere

The good thing about Windermere is that it offers varying sceneries per season.

Spring. For guests who want to view the landscape in its most vivid colours, spring is considered to be the best time to visit. Daffodils and bluebells are abundant during this season, as well as other blooming flowers. Plus, you might catch hill sheep resting on the fells or the open spaces. However, spring is also the time when a lot of tourist flock to the area. So for anyone looking to visit Windermere in Spring time, it is advisable to schedule their visit.

Summer. This season is also a great time to visit Windermere, especially for families because of the school holidays. The lake and its summer watersports are also most inviting during this time. Summer also seems to be the busiest season, with tourist spots scheduling a number of outdoor activities during this time.

Autumn. A visit during autumn, on the other hand, will offer a different view of the landscape. The foliage and dropping temperature offer a tranquil and laidback experience for visitors. The crowds are also less during this time. So for anyone who is not bothered by a little shower of rain from time to time, this season is recommended.

Winter. And for anyone who wants to avoid the hassle of booking trips and crowded tourist spots, winter is the best time to go. On clear days, you will be greeted with a splendid view of snow-capped hills. Plus, who doesn’t want to cuddle with their loved ones on cold nights? Just make sure you bring your winter boots and coats.

I hope that helped you in planning your upcoming trip and appreciate more the best things to do in Windemere in the beautiful Lake District region in the UK.

Best things to do in windemere uk
12 Best Things to Do in Windemere (Lake District, UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas and travel guides for travellers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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