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Windermere lake cruises

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  • darwin exclusive
December 27, 2017

Exploring the Islands on Windermere – England’s Largest Natural Lake

Windermere in the heart of the Lake District national park is 10.5 miles in length and at its widest over 1.5miles in width. Always a popular choice for tourists, people have flocked here for decades, with even the Victorians enjoying cruises on the lake since the 1800s, soaking up the peaceful atmosphere and taking in the breathtaking views. There are 3 main boat piers you can take a cruise from, Bowness, Ambleside (Waterhead) and Lakeside. Windermere Lake Cruises offer a stunning cruise for you to view the Lake District in a completely unique way!


a range of stunning cruises to choose from

Located approximately 1 hour away from Thanet Well Lodge Retreat and Keswick Reach Lodge Retreat by car or bus, Windermere Lake Cruises offer cruises from 45 minutes to over 3 hours in length and operate all year round, except Christmas Day.

If you are short on time, the circular ‘Blue’ Islands cruise is a great choice but there are plenty of other cruises available; some even visiting local lakeshore attractions with joint tickets. Many people report that the Islands’ Cruise has given them a whole new perspective of Windermere – with a string of 18 islands overall to see, the experience provides a stunning way to enjoy the lake’s unforgettable scenery. Interestingly, many of the islands are called ‘holme’ after the local word for ‘island’, which originates from the old Norse language.

Most of the islands are in the Bowness area, roughly dividing the lake into two halves. The largest is Belle Isle, which covers around 37 acres and is the only privately owned and inhabited island.


steeped in history & natural beauty

On the cruise, be sure to catch a glimpse of the ‘Round House’ in the centre of the island – it was built in 1774 and was the first of its kind in England.
The island has an even longer history though. It was used as a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War and it’s rumoured that a Roman commander once built a villa here too.

Keep an eye out for Blake Holme and Silver Holme, which were thought to be part of the inspiration for Wild Cat Island and Cormorant Island in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series of books. Published in 1930, the original novel from the series was a family favourite for many before the popularisation of the TV in the 1950s. (Incidentally, ‘Rio’ was apparently based on Bowness-on-Windermere).

The island named – Lady Holme (previously called Mary Holme) also has a literary link having featured in William Wordsworth poem, The Prelude. Two monks used to run a leper colony here, although the main visitors nowadays are Cormorants and you can often see these distinctive water birds quietly roosting on the island.


an array of islands with their own tales to tell

Another highlight during the cruise is the Crow Holme island, which was used to kennel the local hounds of the Windermere Harriers; it’s said there are still kennels hidden by the trees on the island. Many visitors will also be interested to see the two ‘Lillies of the Valley’, named after the wildflowers which used to grow here. Of course, there’s also the smallest island of them all the islands – Maiden Holme, which has just one tree!

The Blue Islands Cruise is a fitting introduction to the beauty and tranquillity of this iconic lake. Although trying out one of Windermere Lake Cruises’ self-drive motor boats to get an even closer look at some of the little-known gems in the centre of England’s largest lake is also highly recommended!

You can book online here –

Darwin Escapes customers can download this discount voucher PDF to receive 10% discount

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