Windermere in the Lake District

Tuesday, 21 May 2024 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks
Reading Time:  7 minutes

Looking over Windermere to the Langdale Pikes from Millerground © Ericoides/cc-by-sa-4.0

Looking over Windermere to the Langdale Pikes from Millerground © Ericoides/cc-by-sa-4.0

Windermere (sometimes tautologically called Lake Windermere to distinguish it from the nearby town of Windermere) is a ribbon lake in Cumbria, England, and part of the Lake District. It is the largest lake in England by length, area, and volume, but considerably smaller than the largest Scottish lochs and Northern Irish loughs.

The lake is about 11 miles (18 km) in length and 1 mile (1.6 km) at its widest, has a maximum depth of 64 metres (210 ft), and has an elevation of 39 metres (128 ft) above sea level. Its outflow is the River Leven, which drains into Morecambe Bay. The lake is in the administrative council area of Westmorland and Furness and the historic county of Westmorland, with the lake forming part of the boundary between the historic counties of Westmorland and Lancashire. It has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway‘s branch line in 1847. The Freshwater Biological Association was established on the shore of Windermere in 1929 and much of the early work on lake ecology, freshwater biology and limnology was conducted here.

The lake contains eighteen islands. By far the largest is the privately owned Belle Isle opposite Bowness. It is around a kilometre in length, and 16 hectares (40 acres). Its older name was Lang Holme, and 800 years ago it was the centre of the manor of Windermere and later, in effect, of a moiety of the barony of Kendal. The other islands or “holmes” are considerably smaller. The word “holme” or “holm” means small island or islet and comes from Old Norse holmr (as in Stockholm). The island of Lady Holme is named after the chantry that formerly stood there and in former centuries was sometimes called St Mary Holme or just Mary Holme. The remaining islands are Bee Holme (the insular status of which depends on the water level), Blake Holme, Crow Holme, Birk or Birch Holme (called Fir Holme on Ordnance Survey maps), Grass Holme, Lilies of the Valley (East, and West), Ling Holme (a rocky hump with a few trees and a growth of ling), Hawes Holme, Hen Holme (also rocky and sometimes known as chair and Table Island from some old flags or slabs of stone that were formerly found there), Maiden Holme (the smallest island, with just one tree), Ramp Holme (variously called Roger Holme and Berkshire Island at different times in its history), Rough Holme, Snake Holme, Thompson Holme (the second largest), Silver Holme.

Windermere town © flickr.com - Jorge Franganillo/cc-by-2.0 Windermere town © flickr.com - Jorge Franganillo/cc-by-2.0 © Abbasi1111/cc-by-3.0 Looking over Windermere to the Langdale Pikes from Millerground © Ericoides/cc-by-sa-4.0 MV Tern on Windermere © RuthAS/cc-by-4.0 Ramp Holme, one of several islands on Windermere © InterstellarGamer12321/cc-by-sa-4.0 © J. Edward Taylor/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Looking over Windermere to the Langdale Pikes from Millerground © Ericoides/cc-by-sa-4.0
Passenger services operate along the whole length of the lake, from Lakeside railway station, on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite heritage steam railway at the southern end of the lake, to Waterhead Bay near Ambleside in the north. Intermediate stops are made at Bowness and, by smaller launches only, at Brockhole. Some boats only operate part of the route, or operate out and back cruises, whilst others run the whole distance.

The Windermere Ferry, a vehicle-carrying cable ferry, runs across the lake from Ferry Nab on the eastern side of the lake to Far Sawrey on the western side of the lake. This service forms part of the B5285. There are also two summer only passenger ferries that cross the lake. One crosses from Lakeside station to Fell Foot Park at the southern end of the lake, whilst the other links Bowness with Far Sawrey.

There are five large boating clubs based around the lake: the South Windermere Sailing Club, Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club, the Lake District Boat Club, the Royal Windermere Yacht Club, and the Windermere Cruising Association. The Royal Windermere Yacht Club maintains a set of turning marks on the lake, which are also used by the Windermere Cruising Association. The Lake District Boat Club is a family orientated club open to all (owning a boat is not essential), with premises located in Bowness the club house has views of the lake and surrounding fells. The LDBC also run a full programme of both social and racing events. The Windermere Cruising Association organises the popular Winter Series. This event benefits from not being hindered by the large waves, caused by gales, that often lead to sea racing being cancelled. The WCA also have a full calendar of summer races which are open to all abilities.

Windermere Steamboat Museum is located on Rayrigg Road in Bowness, and included a collection of vintage steam boats dating back to 1850, five sailing boats (the oldest built in 1780), two dugout canoes, as well as information about Swallows and Amazons and the history of racing boats. The museum was closed in 2006 for refurbishment and re-opened, considerably enlarged, in March, 2019 as the Windermere Jetty: Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories. The long popularity of steam launches on Windermere has even given its name to the Windermere kettle, a steam-powered tea urn.

In 2005, the Windermere Management Strategy identified the potential for water bus services on the lake. In 2009, the Lake District National Park Authority commissioned a detailed study into the demand for such services. In July 2009, it was announced that Windermere Lake Cruises would be operating additional stops around the lake. In January 2012, the Park Authority launched a consultation on further expansion of the water bus service.

Read more on LakeDistrict.gov.uk – Windermere and Ambleside – explore and visit, VisitCumbria.com – Windermere lake, VisitLakeDistrict.com – Windermere, WindermereInfo.co.uk and Wikipedia Windermere (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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