Lake Windermere – Explore England’s largest natural lake and enjoy the surrounding activities


As the largest natural lake in England and a beautiful location to visit, we wanted to highlight Lake Windermere in its own article. The lake is one of the best places to head to in the Lake District, whether you want to get into the water or just walk around it. Let's talk about what makes Lake Windermere so great:

What can you do at the lake?

As we mentioned in our introduction, there are a few different ways that you can enjoy Lake Windermere, and not all of them involve getting wet.


At more than 10 miles in length and 1 mile wide, the lake is pretty large. So if you want to explore the lake fully, one of the best things you can do is explore it by boat. You have a number of options in this regard, including the option of boarding one of the Windermere Lake Cruises boats. A return trip around the whole lake will take you about 3 hours. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous you can hire your own small motor boat from one of the many companies operating at the lake. You should expect to pay no more than £40 per hour for this hire.


Visit Wray Castle 
Wray Castle is a 19th-century castle owned by the National Trust and is well worth a visit if you like the idea of exploring a gothic castle. It sits at the Northern end of the lake, and even has its own jetty if you fancy arriving at the castle via boat. Rooms in the castle include a Peter Rabbit-themed room which is great for entertaining kids.


If you've visited Go Ape in other parts of the Lake District and you like the idea of an outdoor adventure park, then Brockhole will be right up your street. Popular activities include go-karting, archery, and even laser clay shooting!


Visit Ambleside
There are a few towns dotted around the lake, but in our opinion, Ambleside is the best of the bunch. It was once a hub for the medieval wool trade and retains much of that charm, but is now full of interesting shops and cafes serving great food.

Walking at Lake Windermere

If you're in the mood for a bit of exercise, there are plenty of walks you can enjoy around Lake Windermere. Obviously, a walk around the entire lake could take quite a while as you'll be covering around 20 miles, but there are plenty of shorter trails you can follow if you're in the mood. The most popular walks would include:


Gummer's How
Starting at Gummer's How car park, this 2-mile trail is perfect for kids and ends with a fun scramble to the top of a hill which is really fun. You can also enjoy great views of the lake.


Orrest Head
This is another straightforward 2-mile trail which starts and ends at the visitor centre. This is great for older people as it includes lots of benches along the route, plus at the end of the trail you'll find lots of lovely eateries where you can grab some or maybe even a well-earned pint!


Town End Toddle
If you want to learn a bit more about the local history then this is an ideal trail to follow - it starts and ends at Townend House in Troutbeck, which is a 17th-century house which was owned by the same family for more than 400 years and is well-known for its impressive architecture. The trail is a bit hilly and is around 3 miles long so a little harder than our first 2 recommendations, but still not too difficult. You also walk past the waterfalls at Skelghyll which are beautiful.


This is a 5-mile trail that starts and ends at Rothay Park and takes you up the Loughrigg fell. It's quite a challenging walk and takes you right up the fell which has an elevation of 335m, but the views are stunning and if you're heading to Ambleside then we regard this trail as an absolute must-visit.

Visiting Lake Windermere (2023)

If you're heading to Lake Windermere this year (2023) then there are a few things to be aware of:


- Come prepared for any kind of weather and prepare to get wet, it usually happens!


- There are 3 main car parks at Lake Windermere - Beech Hill, Waterhead, and Hammarbank. Waterhead is the most expensive car park and can cost up to £9 for a day ticket, whereas the other 2 top out at £5.50. The reason Waterhead is a bit more expensive is that it is located near most of the main attractions, including a few of the ones we've recommended.


- There are disabled toilet facilities at Beech Hill and Waterhead, which might be worth considering if anyone in your group
© Copyright Rose and Trev Clough and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

We hope this guide inspires you to visit Lake Windermere! If you want to read something similar, we have a guide about the national parks of the UK. If this guide has inspired you to move closer to Lake Windermere then we have a guide about how good the Lake District is to live in.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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