Windermere Online


Windermere is a town in Cumbria, England, lying about one kilometre away from the lake of the same name. Although Windermere confusingly 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. There are a number of museums, but the main draw for its many tourists is the lake. Boats from the piers in Bowness (about a fifteen-minute walk from the top of Windermere town) sail around the lake, many calling at Ambleside or at Lakeside where there is a restored railway.

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.

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England, and is entirely within in the Lake District National Park. It has been one of the country's most popular places for holidays and summer homes since 1847, when the Kendal and Windermere Railway built a branch line to it. Since 'mere' means 'lake', referring to Windermere as 'Lake Windermere' is tautologous, though common.

Windermere is 10½ miles (17 km) long and varies from a quarter of a mile to one mile wide (400 m to 1500 m). It reaches a depth of about 220 feet (65 m) near its northern end and has an elevation above sea level of 130 feet (40 m). The lake is drained from its southernmost point by the River Leven. It is replenished by the rivers Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck and several other lesser streams.

There are two towns which border the lake, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere. The town of Windermere, confusingly, does not directly touch the lake.

The lake is largely surrounded by foot-hills of the Lake District which provide pleasant low-level walks; to the north and north-east the higher fells of central Lakeland commence.

Local government
The lake bed of Windermere is wholly within the historic county of Westmorland. However, the county boundary between Lancashire and Westmorland runs down the western shore of the lake and also along about three miles of the sothern section of the eastern shore. Drivers crossing the lake on the Windermere Ferry will travel from Westmorland to Lancashire if they cross the lake in a westerly direction. Since local government re-organisation in 1974 Windermere has been entirely within the administrative county of Cumbria. Most planning matters concerned with the lake are, however, the responsibility of the Lake District Special Planning Board.

The town of Windermere is about a fifteen-minute walk from the lakefront, and has now grown together with Bowness-on-Windermere. The town was known as Birthwaite prior to the arrival of the railway. Windermere station offers train and bus connections to the surrounding areas, Manchester, Manchester Airport, and the West Coast Main Line.


Racer Norman Buckley set several world waterspeed records on Windermere in the 1950s.

A road ferry service runs across the lake from a point south of Bowness on the eastern side of the lake to Far Sawrey on the western side of the lake. This service forms part of the B5285.

For many years, power boating and waterskiing have been popular activities on the lake. However, in March 2000, the Government controversially decided to put in place a compulsory 10 knot (11.5 mph, 18.5 km/h) speed limit, technically starting in 2000, but enforced in practice from 29 March 2005. Many organisations, including the Lake District National Park Authority, support the move, primarily on the grounds of restoring the tranquil nature of the lake and making it safer and more accessible for all users. Opponents, particularly those interested in the affected sports, are concerned by the lack of other suitable inland waters to which to move these activities.

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