Windermere’s West Coast
Even though there’s thick grey clouds overhead visitors are still lining the streets all the way from Windermere’s town centre to the jetties at Bowness on the east shore of Lake Windermere. But the National Trust have a host of inspiring sites on the quieter west shore, to give visitors a true, cultural Lake District experience.
The windy, narrow roads and the stunning views along the west shore footpath give for good reason to leave the car in the car park and head over on the passenger ferry. For only 50p, pedestrians can cross the lake on the ferry, from Ferry Nab at Bowness and arriving at Ferry House, Far Sawrey.
Just quarter of a mile along the footpath from Ferry House, Claife Viewing Station towers over the bank. In the 1800s the viewing station was the place to be; hosting social events for the first elite visitors to the Lake District. Now the ruins stand tall, overlooking the lake and the National Trust are continuing work to the building to open up the first level as a viewing platform. Here, the panoramic views of England’s largest natural lake are not to be missed.
Before continuing along the shore, pop in to the Claife station courtyard café and grab a hot drink and a homemade cake.
From Claife Viewing Station, the footpath follows a four mile natural lakeshore track to Wray Castle. The peaceful wooded track, full of birdlife, makes it hard to imagine you are beside the country’s busiest lake. The walk should take no more than an hour and half before reaching Wray Castle.
One of the National Trust’s more unusual properties, Wray Castle was inherited by the trust with no furniture or décor. With that in mind, the inside of the castle shell has been adapted as the perfect palace for children and families. Or for those visiting without children, the old Drawing Room in the mock-gothic castle serves as the ideal finishing point to this idyllic lakeside walk, a pop-up café run by local tenants from the Tower Bank Arms.
Ferries depart every 20 minutes from both the west and east side of Windermere, so visitors can take as long or as little as they like, with the last ferry leaving Ferry House, Far Sawrey at 10pm in the summer and 9pm in the winter.