I hate to admit it but I do not like lakes. The standing water, often stagnant and smelly, the dirty shores littered with duck poo and shed feathers, the boring outlook to the other shore. All of it does nothing for me. Give me an ocean beach any day of the year and I will be happily stick my feet in the water, build a sandcastle or two and watch the waves crashing ashore with a load thunder.
So visiting Bowness-on-Windermere in England’s Lake District was not really a highlight of my recent trip to England and Scotland. I just regarded it a stopover for a night before heading on to Scotland where our real road trip was supposed to begin.
Yet, instead of being ignorant and boring and just hanging at the hotel to wait until next morning, we decided to pay a visit to Bowness, that little fishing village that is situated right on the shores of Lake Windermere. And what can I say? My first impression proved me right.
Walking along the shoreline from the communal car park to the town centre we came past all the usual lake attractions that you will probably find in any touristically developed village in the Lake District. Muddy beaches, lots of swans, boat houses. Yes, it was pretty in a way, but no more than any other lake I have been to before.
Where am I going with this, you might ask. Let’s put it this way: if you like lakes, and gondolas, ferries and yachts, ducks, swans and children feeding them, views across the still waters of a lake and the forested hills on the other side, then a visit to Lake Windermere is a must.
Personally, I don’t find it particularly enchanting. But as I was soon to find out, Bowness-on-Windermere has a lot more to offer.
An enchanting fishing village where time stood still
You see, I am more a history buff. I like old houses, narrow streets, quirky corners. And this is what Bowness has to offer in buckets for people like me. The village, in particular the part that is close to the water – the old fishing and boat building village – is truly enchanting.
Nowhere else have I seen more inviting pub entrances. Potted flowers in pink, red and purple, strategically placed to contrast perfectly with the dark local stone of which most houses are built.
Narrow roads that seem to flow in gentle curves down to the lake like little streams. Houses, many of which now guesthouses and B&B’s, coming so close to the roads that there is hardly space for a walkway left, forcing cars and pedestrians to share the same space.
Cafés with small encapsulated terraces, now in summer filled with guests enjoying a cup of tea or two.
A little bit further from the village stands the Belsfield, an imposing luxury hotel on a hill, overlooking the entire lake and the surrounding countryside. We take a walk around the hotel garden that flows down to the shores and the public pier. A wonderful spot from which to get great shots of the lake.
There are headstones hidden here, placed under trees and in garden beds. People have placed flowers next to them only recently. We don’t know who those are who are buried here are but they sure did find a nice spot for their eternal rest.
Top things to do in Bowness-on-Windermere
Now, if you are wondering what people appreciate most about this place, here is a top ten list of things to do in Bowness-on-Windermere:
- Lake Cruises
- The World of Beatrix Potter Museum
- Fishing (to find the best gear for you, click this link (promotional))
- Blackwell Arts & Craft House Art Museum
- Romantic Dinner Cruises
- Visiting other villages in the Lake District including pretty Ambleside
As it turns out, there is more to Bowness than just Lake Windermere. I can see the attraction the lake has on most people, but the village itself is equally enchanting, or even more.
In the end our walk around town was one of my fondest memories when visiting the region, and I would definitely stop by again to explore it even more.