Couple walking by windermere

Best Things To Do Near Windermere, Lake District, UK

2 October 2020 Local area

There are some great days out in Windermere to choose from.

Whether it’s hiking, cycling, sightseeing or a family day out there are so many fun things to do in the Lake District. The largest natural lake in England, Windermere is 10 miles long, with 18 small islands. Although the Windermere Way at a whopping 45 miles might be a bit too long for most, there are 100’s of smaller walks suitable for any day out in the Lake District. But you don’t have to love hiking to enjoy the Lakes, whether it’s a family day out, for couples or with the dog, Windermere offers something for everyone.


Is Windermere a town or a lake?

Both! Although Windermere is actually one of the smaller towns and further from the lakes shore. There is a great hike from Windermere train station to Orrest head, follow in Alfred Wainwrights footsteps to discover “a truly magnificent view” over Windermere and the surrounding peaks of Scafell Pike, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes. At just an hour’s round trip, this famous hike has all the beauty of the great peaks of the lakes without the hard work.

Bowness is the main town on Windermere and is where most head to get on to the lake. From Bowness on Windermere you can hire equipment for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing, or try water skiing and wakeboarding. Or if you’re looking for a more leisurely day out, simply enjoy an hour or two on a Windermere Lake Cruise. There are many restaurants, cafes and outdoor shops to suit every budget but be prepared to wait as it can get extremely busy, especially in the summer.

windermere boat tour


Ambleside is the other main town on Windermere, much like Bowness its full of the old-world charm that the Lake District is famous for. With dry stone walls creeping on to the road, a picturesque watermill and local artisan bakeries. It can also draw the crowds with parking being a problem in the summer months. A great walk from Ambleside, Stock Ghyll Force leads to a series of waterfalls 30 minutes walk East of the town. The trails are well marked but can get muddy with wet weather. If history is more your thing head to the Ambleside Roman Fort, used as a lake shore garrison between the 2nd and 4th century AD.

ambleside town centre

Days out from Windermere without the crowds

Take the ferry from Bowness over to the west side of the Windermere and experience a completely different side of the lake. Much of this side is owned and protected by the National Trust, including Hill Top the writing retreat of Beatrix Potter. She gifted 4,000 acres of land, bought from the proceeds of her Peter Rabbit children’s books, to the National Trust to be conserved. Walk North along the lake shore through Harrowslack, Claife Viewing Station and Wray Castle.

From the west side of lake Windermere you can also visit Grizedale National Forest. Get lost in 2500 hectares of hiking and mountain biking trails between Windermere and Coniston Water. If you’re brave have a go on the Go Ape treetop adventure course, or why not try orienteering? With set trails between one to four miles, there’s something for every budding Alfred Wainwright.

Towards the southern side of Windermere is National Trust treasure Fell Foot. Stroll along the shoreline, visit the meadow and stop in at the Grade II listed boathouses. You can also hire a boat, Kayak or Stand Up Paddle board from £22 for 1 hour, available from 1pm – 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.


Rydal Water and Grasmere

Rydal water is famous for its links to romantic poet William Wordsworth, he lived in two properties around the lake, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount, now open to the public as museums. Climb the steps to the viewpoint at Wordsworth Seat, said to be the poet’s favourite view in the area.

rydal water

Wordsworth’s Grasmere and Rydal trail is a moderate 7.9 mile loop, that can be split into smaller sections. Park in Grasmere or Pelter Bridge and make your way around the two waters, making sure not to miss Rydal Caves and the infamous Grasmere Gingerbread Shop. Keep an eye out for badgers as this is one of the best places in the Lake District to spot wildlife. Head to Alan Bank (National Trust) to see the local Red Squirrels or have a drink in the beer garden at Tweedie’s Bar and Lodge.


Best family days out in the Lake District

Visit South Lakes Safari Zoo for as little as £15pp when booking ahead. Walk amongst lemurs, capybara’s, wallabies and penguins, feed giraffe and spot elusive snow leopards. Of course, the weather isn’t always perfect in the Lake District, so if you’re looking for things to do near Windermere in the rain visit the UK’s largest collection of freshwater fish at the Lakes Aquarium. Why not combine a trip to the aquarium at Lakeside Pier with a lake cruise and a ride on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway?

There are so many fun days out in the Lake District that don’t need to be expensive. If you are National Trust members you’ll be pleased to know they own over 20% of the Lake District National Park, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means lots of cheap family days out in the Lake District; visit Sizergh Castle, Tarn Hows and Coniston or Borrowdale and Derwent Water all under an hour away from Windermere. Even without a membership there are so many easy walks around Windermere like Loughrigg Tarn and Gummers Howe.

Tarn Hows

Just some of the best things to do near Windermere, if you’re still stuck for ideas come and talk to us at Park Cliffe reception and we’ll be happy to help. Put on your hiking boots, pack a waterproof, and watch out for the odd sheep in the road as you discover some of the best things to do in the Lake District.