I was thinking today that publishing a tourist’s map of Bowness and Windermere on my blog might be helpful to visitors wanting to find out more about these two places in the English Lake District. Blenheim Lodge is pinpointed on the map; but I will also give you some information about our surroundings so that people planning to visit this area will have an idea of where attractions, shops, eateries, etc are located.
Let’s start from the top of the map, where you can see a roundabout leading from Windermere to beautiful Ullswater over the Kirkstone Pass. Ullswater is a narrow lake surrounded by lowering mountains, and nearby is Glenridding, a small village. Kirkstone Pass is a windy mountain pass with spectacular views of Lakeland fells and mountains; but it is unsafe to drive in inclement weather. On the way to Ullswater and other nearby villages is Aira Force, a high waterfall accessed via a stepped trail.
Visitors should reach Ullswater within 45 minutes of leaving Blenheim Lodge. Drive down Brantfell Road, where we are located, to the mini roundabout at the bottom of the hill. Cut across diagonally to the exit signposted ‘Ambleside’ and travel on Rayrigg Road, as you can see on the map. At the end of Rayrigg Road, about 0.75 mile from our B&B, you will come to the A592 roundabout seen on the map. Cross straight over onto the Kirkstone Pass and you are on your way. Why not explore the Ullswater by steamboat while you are there?
Look a little below the top of the map and you will see ‘Windermere’. Windermere is an inland town, and has shops, restaurants, banks, beauty salons, pharmacies, etc. It is a working town, and has less of a resort atmosphere when compared to Bowness on Windermere, which is located by the waters of Windermere. That said, Bowness may have the feel of a resort because of its Lake, but it is also a proper town, where locals live and work throughout the year. Schools, shops, medical practices, dentists, opticians, churches, etc open all year, much like any town or city. Even the boats and other tourist attractions are open 12 months of the year.
The mile of main road which separates the two towns is called Lake Road, where scores of guest houses and hotels line both sides of the road. ‘Lake Road’ is rather a misnomer, indicating, I think, that the road leads to the Lake, rather than that the road is by the Lake. If you look on the map, you will see that Lake Road sits some way away from the Lake, with points of reference made to buildings located on the road, such as a school and police station, for example. There are many B&Bs, guest houses and hotels also to be found off the main Lake Road in Windermere, often in quirky narrow lanes containing sweet Lakeland stone terraced houses.
Lake Windermere is England’s largest natural lake at 10.5 miles long. It stretches from Waterhead in the north to Lakeside in the south. Bowness on Windermere is located in the middle. Windermere Lake Cruises (www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk) operates ferries that crisscross the Lake, with all ferries stopping at Bowness on Windermere. Blenheim Lodge is located in Bowness on Windermere. Single/return/24-48 hour cruise tickets and tickets combining entry into local attractions can be purchased from ferry ticketing booths located by the Lake and about 5-7 minutes’ walk from our B&B.
Look over to the left side of the map. You will see the words, ‘Bowness Bay’. There is a tourist information centre at Bowness Bay, which sits directly across from the piers. Behind Bowness TIC are council leisure facilities, such as golf and tennis. There is also a large car park – another car park is at the other end of Bowness – close by the Lake.
Look further south of the map and you may just about make out the words, ‘To Beatrix Potter’s house and Hawkeshead’. There is a car ferry point located about 0.75 mile from our guest house. The car ferry will also take foot passengers and this is a cheaper way to travel over to Hawkshead than taking the passenger ferries leaving from Bowness Bay. (In case anyone is interested, the island in the middle of the Lake is Belle Isle, a privately owned piece of real estate. We have a single en-suite bedroom with Lake Windermere views named after the island.)
There are a few main roads that run through Bowness and Windermere: Lake Road (which changes its name depending on which part of its length you might be on); Rayrigg Road (less busy than Lake Road as it is more often used by locals during rush hours); Kendal Road (which comes past the bottom of hilly Brantfell Road, where we are situated at its top, and so miss out on the noise of traffic, happy sightseers, and late night revellers), and the road parallel to it and bypassing the piers, which locals call the ‘bottom road’. All these roads converge at the tiny roundabout that you can see closest to the bottom of the map. This is a bustling area, with pubs, restaurants, shops, salons, attractions, etc lining the streets. There are approximately 20-30 eateries in the centre of Bowness alone.
Bowness on Windermere is also a popular wedding venue and you can see the cross on the map indicating the church in the town centre. One of the pubs situated near the church is the Hole in the Wall, Bowness’ oldest pub at more than 100 years old. Nearby are shops, a post office, and other pubs and restaurants.
Although Bowness on Windermere is by the Lake, not all of it is flat. Much of the town is hilly, and the high street, part of the main Lake Road, is on an incline. B&Bs, guest houses and hotels line the high street, and more guest accommodation can also be found off the main road. Blenheim Lodge is one such accommodation to be found off the main road, hidden away from the busyness of traffic and crowds. However, unlike most places to stay, Blenheim Lodge boasts spectacular Lake views from an enviable position backing into the tranquil woodlands of the National Park.
Indeed, I have been trying to count recently the number of places to stay in Windermere and Bowness on Windermere which might have Lake views; I could only think of 3 guest houses and 5 hotels – although there may likely be more that I am not aware of. Both Windermere and Bowness are residential towns, and all guest houses and hotels are located within residential streets or on the main roads. The net effect is that most guest accommodation either look out over roads to neighbouring buildings opposite or next door to adjacent accommodation. Our added bonus is the fact that we also have views of Lake Windermere and the countryside: a couple of accommodation inspectors visiting our property said that Blenheim Lodge has some of the best views of Lake Windermere from Bowness town: on a clear day, one can see up to 7 or so miles of the 10.5 mile Lake from most of our rooms.
Take a closer look at the map and you will see that just behind Blenheim Lodge are three view points: Biskey Howe, Post Knott, and Brantfell. En-route to the view points is a seat (indicated on the map) for walkers to rest as they come down the Dales Way Walk (also shown on the map). The Dales Way Walk is a long distance walk that goes all the way to Ilkley in the Yorkshire Dales (www.dalesway.org.uk), and normally takes about a week to complete. We have had many guests partaking of a much deserved cuppa and biscuits in our lounge as they relax to soothing views of Lake Windermere after completing their walks. For guests who wish to stay in Bowness, close to excellent walks which are not too taxing, our location and the walks behind our Lodge should fit the bill!
I hope that this map and my explanations have helped to give you a better idea of what Bowness and Windermere are like physically. If you have any questions, do feel free to ask. I shall leave you with a photo of one of the views from our guest rooms to whet your appetite for visiting the Lakes and hopefully staying with us at Blenheim Lodge.
‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
Visit our website: www.blenheim-lodge.com
Telephone: 00 44 (0)15394 43440