Length – 18.08km / Max Width – 1.49km

The Lake District’s busiest lake when it comes to visitors, Windermere first cemented its position as the premier tourist attraction in the area following the creation of the Kendal and Windermere Railway branch line in 1847 that brought droves of Victorian day trippers and holidaymakers to its spectacular shores.

Windermere is the largest lake both in the Lake District and in England and water sports abound here, with an estimated 10,000 boats registered to sail on its waters. Windermere can be accessed via the A591 from Kendal.


There are multiple pay and display car parks at the towns and villages of Ambleside (north shore), Windermere, Bowness-On-Windermere (eastern shore), and Lakeside Pier (southern shore). The eastern shore is accessed via the A591 in the north and the A592 in the south, and parking is also available adjacent to Beech Hill Hotel on the A592 (Grid Ref SD 387 921) where you will find a picnic spot and public toilets.

There is limited road access to the western shore, however, you can park at Far Sawrey pier (SD 388 925) which is close to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s former home. Access to Far Sawrey is either via the B5285 from Hawkshead or via the car ferry crossing from Bowness-On-Windermere.


Cumbrians tend to joke about how Windermere has been given to the tourists, and as such there are plenty of facilities at towns and villages around the lake to cater for visitors, including cafés, pubs, shops, boat hire, steamer cruises, and even the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway located at the southern end of Windermere. There are also a number of companies offering various outdoor activities such as guided walks.

Walking Trails

The Windermere Way is a circular walk around Windermere that is approximately 45-miles long, although much of it is away from the shoreline. Ambleside is a great starting point for fell walks, as from here you can access a number of higher fells including Red Screes and Dove Crag. Alternatively, Windermere Lake Cruises have details of a number of trails that involve a trip on one of their steamers and a walk, with special walkers’ tickets available.

At the town of Windermere, Orrest Head is a popular walk for visitors as it offers fabulous views from its easily accessible summit. The start of the footpath at SD 414 987 from the A591 by the entrance to the Windermere Hotel is clearly marked with a large sign and the route is signposted all the way up to the summit at SD 415 994, 238 metres above sea level.