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

Windermere in the spring
Windermere in the spring

The village of Windermere shouldn’t be confused with neighbouring Bowness-on-Windermere, although first-time visitors understandably often don’t realise the difference between the two and wonder where the lake is!

Bowness-on-Windermere is a small but busy town on the shore of Windermere lake, whereas the village of Windermere lies a further mile inland and slightly uphill from Bowness (I told you it was confusing!). The dividing line is marked by a charming little clock tower on the main road between the two, the Baddeley Clock.

The Baddeley Clock between Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere
The Baddeley Clock between Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere

Windermere has its own railway station, being the last stop on the Lakes Line from Oxenholme Station, which sits on the main line from London to Glasgow.

Things to do in and around Windermere

Windermere village has a lovely atmosphere, with some exclusive independent shops (Peter Hall & Son interiors, Gina Ricci shoes, Windermere Wine Stores, and a choice of two butchers) and an outdoor independent café culture which has grown hugely in recent years. You can sit outside a number of cafés and pubs and watch the world go by and, even in the cold, some establishments provide customers with outdoor heaters.

From The Lamplighter, Windermere
Looking down from the terrace at The Lamplighter, Dining and Rooms

Next door to the railway station lies the magnificent glass-fronted flagship store of Lakeland, the kitchenware retailer, with its First-Floor Café.

Lakeland kitchenware
Lakeland, the home of kitchenware

Also next door to the railway station is a large Booths supermarket – perhaps not the central focus for a day out, but you do need to know where to go for the essentials! Booths has always been a bit like the Waitrose of the north, and stocks quite a few artisan and specialist foods that you wouldn’t normally expect to find in a standard UK supermarket.

Just round from the train station is the Windermere Tourist Information Centre – a great place to pick up leaflets and further information you might need during your stay. There’s also an excellent leaflet stand inside the rear entrance to Booths supermarket if you’re in need of inspiration!

Moving out of Windermere itself, and you might fancy a bit of a walk. Orrest Head is a steep but short walk up to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the lake.

If you’re after some magnificent views without too much effort, or just have very little time, stop off at the Hammarbank viewpoint in the car on Rayrigg Road (the A592). You don’t even need to get out of the car to enjoy this view, although it is now better in the winter than the spring due to the growing foliage below!

Hammarbank viewpoint
The Hammarbank viewpoint on Rayrigg Road outside Windermere

If you’ve a little more time to spare, drive down the steep hill from this viewpoint, park at the Rayrigg Road car park, and take the short stroll onto Queen Adelaide’s Hill (see my post for the easy route) – you will be amazed at the views you find up and down Windermere lake!

Windermere from Queen Adelaide's Hill, Windermere
Looking over Windermere lake towards Ambleside from Queen Adelaide’s Hill

If you’re a keen gardener, do take a look at Holehird Gardens, situated on Patterdale Road near the mini-roundabout outside Windermere. It’s 17 acres of pure gardening joy, and so peaceful – the very definition of a hidden gem! What’s even more astounding is that the gardens are all maintained by volunteers, and there are lovely tarn and woodland walks here too.

View from Holehird
Looking over Holehird to Windermere and the fells

Head onto the A591 towards Ambleside, and you’ll come across Brockhole, the Lake District National Park’s visitor centre. It may be well known for its Treetop Nets and Treetop Trek adventures amongst the canopies of the ancient oak trees there, but the grounds, which are located on the eastern shore of Windermere, are a lovely place to take a stroll and enjoy a picnic.

There’s a café with a terrace overlooking the pretty gardens, which were originally designed by famous local landscape architect Thomas Mawson. You can also access services on Windermere Lake Cruises from the jetty here.

Brockhole, Windermere
Brockhole on Windermere, the Lake District National Park’s visitor centre on the eastern shore of Windermere

If you enjoyed reading about Windermere, you may also like to visit my gem-hunter’s guide on things to see and do in the neighbouring village of Bowness-on-Windermere.

That’s it for Windermere for the time being! If you know of any other hidden gems here that I’ve not mentioned, please do leave a comment below for everyone reading, and I’ll do my best to incorporate your suggestions in future revisions of this page (I’ll leave your comment in place so that you continue to be credited).