February sees the return of boat services to the western shore of Windermere allowing you to enjoy a circular boat/walk around England’s largest lake. We invited the Morgan family to try out the Springtime Walker’s Ticket from Windermere Lake Cruises.
The ticket entitles you to take 2 boat trips and a 4 mile stroll down the quiet western shore returning to your starting position either in Bowness or Ambleside.
The Morgan family and Ted the dog set off from Bowness Pier on a cold Saturday morning catching the 10am departure from Pier 2.
They boarded the modern launch ‘Miss Cumbria’ as they set out on their first leg of the journey: a 30 minute boat ride to Ambleside (Waterhead) Pier.
All the boats have heated inner cabins with a café/bar on board. Perfect for warming up on cold springtime mornings!
There’s plenty to see on the journey up the lake with a brief commentary provided by the skipper.
It even warmed up enough for the family to venture outside onto the outer viewing decks. Top Tip: Bring some warm clothes and layers for the trip.
After a brief pause at Ambleside (Waterhead) Pier, the boat drops you off at Wray Castle to start your walk along the shore. The whole boat trip takes about an hour from setting off from Bowness.
Departing the launch at Wray Castle is easy with some steps and the crew were very helpful in making sure we got off correctly. You would need to carry buggies on and off the boat though.
Wray Castle Pier is a 10 minute walk from the National Trust property itself and is easily signposted from the pier. On the day we travelled, the castle wasn’t opened but it’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you have young children.
The walking route from Wray Castle is easily marked and there are helpful maps and signposts all along the route.
And we were off! Ted the dog being particularly keen to explore the woodland trail.
The western shore of Windermere is completely car-free and so much quieter than other parts of Windermere. The path is gravel most of the way so children in buggies should be also able to come.
There’s some amazing views of the lake from the shore and we had the trail to ourselves, only passing a couple of other walkers on route.
Most of the trail is flat and through woodland. Ted particularly enjoyed playing with some of the sticks near the lakeshore.
After a beautiful 3 mile stroll, the gravel path makes way for a tarmac road. Luckily the road is as quiet as the track and we didn’t see anyone on the route. Top Tip: If you have time, then visit Claife Viewing Station (just 10 minutes off the route). This viewing station built by the Victorians offers stunning views of the lake. There’s also a great café nearby that has some delicious cakes on offer.
The final stage to our journey was on the car ferry from Ferry House (costing 50p for foot passengers). The car ferry operates back and forth so we didn’t have to wait long!
During peak season (Easter – October), Windermere Lake Cruises has a direct service back to Bowness but in February/March you have to use the Cumbria County Council car ferry.
We had done it! Although the weather wasn’t perfect the whole family had a great day out around Windermere. See below for our top tips to enjoying your day out.
- We spent 3 hours doing the whole journey and returning to our starting position in Bowness.
- The whole trip for the family costs £27 for a Springtime Walker’s Ticket from Windermere Lake Cruises.
- The car ferry costs 50p per person.
- In the summer, you can do this route using a direct boat back to Bowness from Ferry House Pier.
- On a warmer day it would be great to have a picnic along the western shore – there’s lots of places to pause and enjoy the views.
- On a colder day it can get even cooler on the boats – make sure you bring some windproof layers to enjoy the views from the outer viewing decks.
- Windermere Lake Cruises – https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk
- Springtime Walker’s Ticket – https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk/cruises-fares/springtime-walkers-ticket/
- Wray Castle – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle/
- Cumbria Car Ferry – https://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/highways-pavements/windermereferry.asp
- Claife Viewing Station – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/claife-viewing-station-and-windermere-west-shore
- Claife Café in the Courtyard – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hawkshead-and-claife-viewing-station/features/the-caf-in-the-courtyard