There is so much to see and do in and around Windermere, so condensing it into one day is more than a little tricky. But, for whatever reason, if you were only in the area for one day, here’s an idea of what to do.
Breakfast at Homeground Café
Let’s get a good start to the day – breakfast in one of Windermere’s excellent cafés (there are plenty to choose from, but this is one of our favourites).
Homeground is in the centre of Windermere Village and has earned an enviable reputation for great food, coffee and, well, just being a great place to meet up with friends. What’s more, last year it claimed a spot on the Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards.
Homeground is open during the day for walk-ins only.
After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll want to burn off some of those calories and where better than a short walk to the summit of Orrest Head. Not too long or steep for little legs and when you reach the top, the views across Lake Windermere and the Lake District fells beyond are simply breathtaking.
This is the place where author and fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, first fell in love with the Lake District, saying; “These few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life.”
In fact, he was so enchanted by the view and the sense of opportunity which lay before him, that he went on to write his pictorial guides to the Lakeland Fells.
The walk from Windermere to the top of Orrest Head and back should take no longer than two hours (we’ve allowed time here to marvel at the scenery), leaving you plenty of time to head down to Bowness and our next stop, Windermere Jetty Museum.
Windermere Jetty Museum
Officially opened in April 2019 by Prince Charles, Windermere Jetty Museum is located right on the shore of Lake Windermere. This spectacular museum boasts a stunning collection of boats and sailing vessels, including steam launches, record-breaking speed boats and motorboats.
These boats cover the history of sailing on Windermere from as far back as the late eighteenth century. You will also have an opportunity to see ongoing restoration projects and to chat with the restorers.
Vessels include Swallow and Amazon, the boat used in the BBC film adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s famous book; Beatrix Potter’s tarn boat which she used to take out when she was sketching; and SL Dolly (1850), the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world (still in running order).
The museum also has a fantastic café, so that’s lunch sorted, complete with a fabulous view across the lake. Most dishes are inspired by the Lake District and wherever possible use local ingredients sourced from local farms and businesses.
Windermere Lake Cruises
It’s early afternoon, time for something relaxing? Why not pop along to the pier in Bowness and board one of the Windermere Lake Cruises? The perfect way to spend some time soaking up more of that stunning scenery.
There are four cruises which run all year, and an additional four options which are added for the summer months, including a stunning evening cruise timed perfectly to catch the sunset over the Lakeland Fells.
As we’ve only got one day to explore, we’re going to take the Red Cruise. This beautiful round trip from Bowness can be taken as a 75-minute non-landing cruise, calling at Windermere Jetty, Brockhole and Ambleside before returning to Bowness.
As with many of the cruises, there is a fascinating commentary on the history, attractions and points of interest around Windermere.
And as it’s only 75 minutes, we’re back in time to visit Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House.
Blackwell, The Arts and Crafts House
Designed by noted architect Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott and built at the turn of the twentieth century, Blackwell is a stunning grade one listed property and one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture.
The house overlooks Lake Windermere and the Lake District Fells and has retained almost all of its original Arts and Crafts features. From stained glass windows to inglenook fireplaces, carved wooden panelling to rare hessian wall hangings, Blackwell is definitely one of the most interesting houses in the Lake District.
After you’ve taken a tour of this enchanting house, the charming tea room offers a number of cakes and tempting treats. And with an elegant outdoor terrace, it’s the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the superb lake views.
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As the day begins to draw to a close, why not explore some of the little side streets in Bowness, maybe enjoy a drink in one of the many pubs and bars, before heading for your final destination of the day, dinner at the Michelin-starred HRiSHi?
Just a short drive from the centre of Bowness-on-Windermere is HRiSHi, where Head Chef Hrishikesh Desai uses locally sourced ingredients to create modern British cuisine with a twist.
The three intimate dining rooms mirror the Head Chef’s colourfully presented food – eye-catching and slightly eclectic.
Dishes are precisely prepared, original and very attractively presented. Many of the dishes blend local ingredients with subtle Indian or Asian spicing, a nod towards Cumbria’s rich history as a centre of the spice trade.
Whether you opt for a traditional three course meal, a stunning seven-course tasting menu, or a decadent take on afternoon tea, you will be captivated by the wonderful array of flavours.
Obviously HRiSHi is a very popular restaurant, so if you can’t get a reservation, why not go next door to the two AA Rosette Gilpin Spice, a more informal dining experience boasting an open kitchen serving tapas-style pan-Asian sharing dishes.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your day in Windermere. This is just an idea of what you can get up to in this wonderful part of the world – and yes, we are a little biased. But there really is so much to see and do, so we’re pretty sure you’ll be back. We haven’t even mentioned The World of Beatrix Potter, The Old Laundry Theatre, sunset cruises on Lake Windermere, canoe hire, Brockhole, Wray Castle, Claiffe Heights… the list goes on and on. Perhaps we’ll have to do another day in and around Windermere.
Rachael Thomas is Managing Director of Matson Ground Estate Company Limited, which has a number of Lake District holiday cottages, including Birkdale House. Birkdale House is a luxury Victorian residence at the heart of a privately owned estate in the English Lake District.