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from the north
Location Lake District National Park
Coordinates 54°21′30″N 2°56′10″W / 54.35833°N 2.93611°W / 54.35833; -2.93611Coordinates: 54°21′30″N 2°56′10″W / 54.35833°N 2.93611°W / 54.35833; -2.93611
Lake type Ribbon lake
Primary inflows Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck
Primary outflows River Leven
Basin countries United Kingdom
Max. length 11mi 420yd (18.08km)
Max. width 1630yd (1.49km)
Surface area 5.69mi² (14.73km²)
Max. depth 219ft (67m)
Surface elevation 128ft (39m)
Islands 18 (Belle Isle, see list)

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. 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. It is in the county of Cumbria and entirely within the Lake District National Park.



The word "Windermere" is thought to translate as "Vinandr's lake", from the Old Norse name Vinandr and Old English mere, meaning lake.[1] It was known as "Winander Mere" or "Winandermere" until at least the nineteenth century.[2][3]

Its official name is Windermere, not Lake Windermere, which would be something of a redundancy. (The only body of water in the National Park with "Lake" in its name is Bassenthwaite Lake.)[citation needed]


A map of the lake from 1925

Windermere is a ribbon lake, which are long, narrow and finger-like. It was formed 13,000 years ago during the last major ice age by two glaciers, one from the Troutbeck valley and the other from the Fairfield Horseshoe[citation needed]. When the glaciers melted the lake filled with the meltwater, which was held in by moraine (rock material) deposited by the glacier.

The lake is drained from its southernmost point by the River Leven[4]. It is replenished by the rivers Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck and several other lesser streams. The lake is largely surrounded by foothills of the Lake District which provide pleasant low-level walks; to the north and north-east are the higher fells of central Lakeland.[4]

There is debate as to whether the stretch of water between Newby Bridge and Lakeside at the southern end of the lake should be considered part of Windermere, or a navigable stretch of the River Leven. This affects the stated length of the lake, which is 11mi 420yd (18.08km) long if measured from the bridge at Newby Bridge[4], or 10.5 miles (16.9 km) if measured from Lakeside[citation needed]. The lake varies in width up to a maximum of 1630yd (1.49km), and covers an area of 5.69mi² (14.73km²)[4]. With a maximum depth of 219ft (67m) and an elevation above sea level of 128ft (39m), the lowest point of the lake bed is well below sea level[4].

There are two towns on the lake, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere, as the town of Windermere does not directly touch the lake. Known as Applethwaite prior to the arrival of the railway, it is about a fifteen-minute walk from the lakefront, and has now grown together with Bowness. Windermere railway station is a hub for train and bus connections to the surrounding areas, Manchester, Manchester Airport, and the West Coast Main Line.(Ambleside is not strictly speaking on the lake but is connected by the hamlet of Waterhead)



The lake contains 18 islands.[5] By far the largest is the privately owned Belle Isle (40 acres (16 ha)) lying opposite Bowness and around a kilometre in length.

The other islands are considerably smaller. The island of Lady Holme is named after the church that formerly stood there. The remaining islands are Bee Holme, Blake Holme, Crow Holme, Fir Holme, Grass Holme, Lilies of the Valley (East, and West), Ling Holme, Hawes Holme, Hen Holme, Maiden Holme (the smallest island, containing a singular tree), Ramp Holme, Rough Holme, Snake Holme, Thompson Holme (2nd largest), Silver Holme.[5]

Natural history

The lake has a very high percentage of its drainage area under cultivation (29.4%), and a relatively low percentage of lake bed above 9 metres (30 ft) in depth which is rocky (28%). This makes Windermere a rich habitat. The main fish in the lake are trout, char, pike, and perch.

The north to south alignment of the lake, combined with its position between Morecambe Bay and the central fells, means that it forms what is essentially a migration highway. During winter months geese flying this route are a common sight.

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.

Local government

Before 1974 Windermere, the lake, lay wholly within the county of Westmorland; however, the historic county boundary between Lancashire and Westmorland runs down the western shore of the lake and also along about three miles (5 km) of the southern section of the eastern shore. Drivers crossing the lake on the Windermere Ferry thus travel from the historic county of Westmorland to that of Lancashire if they cross the lake in an westerly direction.

Since local government re-organisation in 1974, Windermere and its shores have been entirely within the non-metropolitan county of Cumbria and the district of South Lakeland. Most planning matters concerned with the lake are, however, the responsibility of the Lake District National Park Authority.


Steamers, launches and ferries

The MV Swan on Windermere
The Tern on Windermere 1993

Passenger services serve the 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.[6]

These services date back to the former Furness Railway, who built the Lakeside branch, and were at one time operated by British Rail, the former state-owned rail operator. Since privatisation, three of the old railway boats are operated by Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd, along with a fleet of smaller and more modern launches. Although often described as steamers, the former railway boats are all in fact motor vessels, and are the MV Tern of 1891, the MV Teal of 1936, and the MV Swan of 1938.[7]

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.[8][9][10]

Boat clubs

There are three large boating clubs based around the lake: the Windermere Motor Boat Racing 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 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.

Speed records

On Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave broke the world water speed record on Windermere in his boat, Miss England II at an average speed of 158.94 kilometres per hour (98.76 mph). On the third run over the course, off Belle Grange, the boat capsized. Segrave's mechanic, Victor Helliwell drowned, but Segrave was rescued by support boats. He died a short time later of his injuries. Segrave was one of the few people in history who have held the world land speed record and water speed record simultaneously.

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

Windermere at Bowness
Looking over Windermere

Speed limits

For many years, power-boating and water-skiing have been popular activities on the lake. In March 2000, however, the Lake District National Park Authority controversially introduced a bylaw setting a 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h) speed limit for all powered craft on the lake, in addition to three existing 6-mile-per-hour (5.2 kn)[11] speed limits for all craft on the upper, lower, and middle sections of the lake. While the bylaw technically came into force in 2000, there was a five year transition period and the new speed limits were only enforced from 29 March 2005. Despite the speed limits people continue to use power-boats on the lake, both legally and illegally.

Many organisations 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, and the effect on many local businesses that reduced visitor numbers would have.

Windermere Steamboat Museum

Windermere Steam boat museum is located in bowness on Rayrigg Rd. Inside Windermere Steam Boat Museum it has a historical collection of vintage steam boats dating back to 1896. The museum was established in to preserve the steam boats. In another section of the museum it has information about the swallows and the amazons and also the history of the racing boats on Lake Windermere. The museum is currently closed for refurbishments; but hopefully should re-open soon.

Lake monster

Like many bodies of water around the world, Windermere is reputed to contain one or more large, unusual fish or animals (see Eachy). The Centre for Fortean Zoology claims there have been many sightings of a giant eel-like creature in the lake stretching back to the 1950s. The 'monster' first made the news in 2006 after being spotted by university lecturer Steve Burnip and his wife Eileen.

Popular culture

The children's book series Swallows and Amazons is based loosely on life before World War II around a fictional lake derived from a combination of Windermere and Coniston Water.

In the horror novel The Pike (1982) by Cliff Twemlow a 12-foot (3.7 m) long pike in Windermere goes on a killing spree, and the consequence is a boom in the Lake's tourist trade. Two attempts have been made to film the novel.

The area is also featured as an arena in the popular Sony PlayStation videogame Tekken.

In November 2009, Several scenes were shot on Windermere for the soap opera Coronation Street. The filming centered around Pull Wyke Bay and Pull Wood House on the North-West shoreline. The Scenes, featuring the newlyweds Gail and Joe on honeymoon were aired in January/February 2010.

The Great North Swim

On Saturday 13 September 2008, Windermere hosted the inaugural Great North Swim, a one mile open water swim involving 2,200 swimmers of all ages and abilities.[12] On 12 and 13 September, the second British Gas Great North Swim took place with 6000 swimmers taking part, making this the largest open water swim in the UK


  • Parker, John Wilson (2004). An Atlas of the English Lakes. Cicerone Press. ISBN 1-85284-355-1. 


  1. ^ Derivation of the Names of Lake District Lakes and Tarns
  2. ^ "Gray's Book of Roads". George Carrington Gray. 1824. 
  3. ^ Daniel Defoe (1726). A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain.  "I must not forget Winander Mere, which makes the utmost northern bounds of this shire..."
  4. ^ a b c d e Parker, 2004, pages 22-33
  5. ^ a b "Windermere islands". Lake District National Park. 
  6. ^ "Timetables". Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  7. ^ "Vessels". Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd. Retrieved May 11, 2007. 
  8. ^ "Windermere ferry". Cumbria County Council. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  9. ^ "Fell Foot Park - Getting There". National Trust. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  10. ^ "Bowness to Ferry House". Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  11. ^ Lake District National Park Authority - Windermere safety and speed limits
  12. ^ Great North Swim

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Windermere is a town in Cumbria.

Get in


A591 leads to/from the main M6 north-south motorway


Windermere is at the end of a branch line from Oxenholme on the main West Coast route from London to Scotland. Trains run every hour or so.

The train station is above the town, a few minutes walk from the centre. The station forecourt has bus stops with frequent service into the town and to Bowness-on-Windermere and Ambleside, and a taxi rank.


There is one coach per day to and from London. Local bus services run to and from Kendal, Lancaster and Keswick as well as to destinations throughout the Lake District.

Get around

The town is small enough to walk around easily. Buses run to the adjoining town, Bowness-on-Windermere , on the Windermere lake front (or you can walk there in around 20 minutes).



  • Miller Howe [1]


  • Windermere Lodge [2] is a four star graded luxury pine lodge in Limefitt Park, Troutbeck.
  • Kingfisher Lodge [3] is a traditional riverside log cabin in the heart of tranquil Troutbeck.

Get out

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

WINDERMERE, the largest lake in England, in the southeastern part of the Lake District. It is in the county of Westmorland, the boundary with Lancashire running from the head southward along the western shore, round the foot and northward along about one-third of the eastern shore.

It forms a narrow trough with a slightly curved axis of ion m_ The width at right angles to the axis never reaches i m. The area is 5.69 sq. m. The shores are generally steep, beautifully wooded and fretted with numerous little sheltered bays. The hills immediately surrounding the lake rarely reach 1000 ft., but the distant views of the mountains to the north and west contrast finely with the sylvan beauty of the lake itself. Themiddle of the lake, immediately opposite Bowness, is especially beautiful, for here a group of islands (Belle Isle, Thompson's Holme, the Lilies and others) divide the lake into two basins, the water about them seldom exceeding 50 ft. in depth. On the other hand, the greatest depth sounded in the northern basin is 219 ft., and in the southern 134. The lake receives the Rothay and Brathay streams at the head; Trout Beck also flows into the north basin, and Cunsey Beck from Esthwaite into the south. The lake is drained by the Leven. Steamers belonging to the Furness Railway Company ply regularly on Windermere, the chief stations being Lakeside, the terminus of a branch railway,. beautifully situated at the foot, Ferry on the west shore below the islands, Bowness on the east and Waterhead, at the head,. for Ambleside. The lake contains perch, pike, trout and char; there are several large hotels at Bowness and elsewhere on its shores.

The town of Windermere, above the eastern shore adjacent to Bowness (q.v.), is in the Appleby parliamentary division of Westmorland, and is the terminus of a branch of the London. and North-Western railway from Oxenholme junction. Numerous mansions and villas have grown up in the vicinity. Here, from Orrest Head, in the grounds of Elleray, where lived Professor Wilson (Christopher North), superb views over the whole lake and its surroundings are obtained. In 1905 Bowness and Windermere were united as a single urban district.

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Simple English

File:Lake windermere in
Lake Windermere

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England.


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