Things to do in Bowness-on-Windermere – a gem hunter’s guide

The Glebe in Bowness-on-Windermere from the Laura Ashley Belsfield Hotel
The glebe in Bowness-on-Windermere from the Laura Ashley Belsfield Hotel

Bowness-on-Windermere has to be one of the one of the most popular towns in the Lake District. Stretching down to the eastern shore of Windermere, it’s a bustling hive of activity, especially on a warm day, and there are several very good reasons why!

Don’t confuse Bowness-on-Windermere with the nearby town of Windermere, which is approximately a mile away ‘inland’ from the lake.

Things to do in Bowness-on-Windermere

One of the favourite reasons to visit Bowness-on-Windermere is to take a cruise on Windermere lake from the Glebe, with Windermere Lake Cruises. The company operates three large ‘steamers’ (although these are not powered on steam), some smaller vessels, and several wooden launches. You can take a circular cruise or stop off at points around the lake including Lakeside, Ferry House, Brockhole, Wray Castle and Ambleside.

The Teal
The Teal belonging to Windermere Lake Cruises, at the Glebe in Bowness

Bowness is crowded with small independent retailers, gift shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs, so there’s lots to explore.

Children will love the World of Beatrix Potter exhibition, which combines smells, sights and sounds to bring Beatrix Potter’s tales to life in a walk-through exhibition. Prepare for much ‘ooing’ and ‘aahing’, as some of the characters are extremely cute!

If you’re looking for short walks from Bowness, Brant Fell has fantastic views, and for a flat stroll you can’t go far wrong with a wander around the Glebe and Cockshott Point.

Queen Adelaide’s Hill is also nearby, situated between Bowness and Windermere on Rayrigg Road, and the view from the top is a truly hidden gem! You can also walk along the lakeshore at Millerground, below the hill.

Queen Adelaide's Hill, Windermere
On top of Queen Adelaide’s Hill looking across Windermere (lake) towards Ambleside

If you’d like to experience the peace and serenity of Windermere’s western shore, you can hop on the Windermere Car Ferry as a foot passenger or take the car (parking on the other side of the lake is limited though, and it’s just 50p each way on foot), and visit Claife Viewing Station as well as wander along the shoreline. There’s a lovely little ‘pop-up’ café at Claife Viewing Station too, the Café in the Courtyard.

Claife Viewing Station overlooking Windermere
Claife Viewing Station overlooking Windermere

Just outside Bowness-on-Windermere lies Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House. Blackwell was originally built as a holiday home, and is a house of considerable architectural significance. It has a lovely café, and in the summer you can sit out at a wooden table on the terrace looking over the lawn down to the lake. In the winter, you can enjoy the views in the warm while exploring the inside of the house.

Blackwell outside Bowness-on-Windermere
The view of Windermere from Blackwell

Eagerly anticipated for spring 2018, is the opening of the Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, which is being constructed to replace the Windermere Steam Boat Museum which once stood on the same site. Situated on the side of the lake on Rayrigg Road, it will house a collection of boats of international significance, including steam-powered launches, motor boats and ferry boats.

Other posts I’ve written on things to do and see in Bowness-on-Windermere:

If you found this page helpful, you may also like to visit my gem-hunter’s guide to the neighbouring village of Windermere.

If you’ve found a hidden gem I haven’t yet included here, please do let me know by leaving a comment below. I’ll try to incorporate details in my next revision of this page (and will leave your comment below so that you will continue to be credited.)