Lake Windermere, or more correctly, Windermere, is England’s largest natural lake at 10.5 miles. By virtue of our hilltop position in Bowness-on-Windermere, approximately 6-7 miles of this watery expanse can be viewed from our room windows at Blenheim Lodge, an AA-rated 4-star bed and breakfast guest house situated a 5-7 minute walk to the shores of Windermere. Windermere is host to many local activities, from ferry and yacht cruises, to fishing and other boating activities, to the annual Great North Swim events.
The location of Blenheim Lodge enables us and our guests to observe the myriad moods of Lake Windermere throughout the four seasons. Of course, sometimes we also get four seasons within 24 hours – a typical characteristic of the great British weather! I have often gazed out of the triple bay windows in our lounge and marvelled at how the quickly and completely the look of the Lake can mutate even within seconds and minutes. From where I sit, I can see how differences in light, wind speed, weather and local activities on and around Windermere and its immediate environment affect the feel of the Lake.
Here are some photos depicting the myriad faces of Lake Windermere.
The photo below shows Windermere in bright hazy sunshine, with a glare so strong that one must squint against it. On a calm hot day where no breezes blow, and vivid greens encircle the Lake, yachts moor up in a bay, and it is easy to imagine that one is holidaying in some faraway Mediterranean idyll instead of green, green England.
Windermere, however, can be as cold as it comes in this part of the world. Still the boys will play. In the distance are dozens of yachts bobbing up and down amongst choppy white-horses and taking advantage of refreshing winter winds to cut gracefully across the deep blue waters of this beautiful lake.
Windermere experiences temperature inversions to stunning effect. These are common in spring and autumn when a section of the atmosphere becomes warmer as the elevation increases. I don’t really understand this principle but the end result may be seen below.
Meanwhile winter views of Windermere capture the imagination with snow-capped mountains and frost-rimed vegetation sparkling brightly in winter sunshine. The beauty of an ice-bound Windermere did indeed spark the creative genius of Arthur Ransome, one the Lake District’s most famous writers:
In his Autobiography(pp. 46-47) Arthur Ramsome recalled the Great Frost of 1895 as a happy interlude in his unhappy schooldays at the Old College in Bowness:
… I had the great good fortune to be at school at Windermere in February 1895 at the time of the Great Frost, when for week after week the lake was frozen from end to end. Then indeed we were lucky in our headmaster, who liked skating and wisely decided that as we were not likely to have such an experience again (the lake freezes over only about once in every thirty-five years), we had better make the most of it. Lessons became perfunctory. After breakfast, day after day, provisions were placed on a big toboggan and we ran it down into Bowness when we tallied on to ropes astern of it to hold it back and prevent it from crashing into the hotel at the bottom. During those happy weeks we spent the whole day on the ice, leaving the steely lake only at dusk when fires were already burning and torches lit and our elders carried lanterns as they skated and shot about like fireflies. I saw a coach and four drive across the ice, and the roasting of an ox (I think) on Bowness Bay. I saw perch frozen in the ice, preserved as if in glass beneath my feet. Further, here was one activity in which I was not markedly worse than any of the other boys. On a frozen lake in the grounds of the three Miss Fords at Adel, a kindly foreigner, Prince Kropotkin, had guided my infant footsteps. I had learnt to move on skates and was thus better off than most of the boys who had never skated at all. Those weeks of clear ice with that background of snow-covered, sunlit, blue-shadowed hills were, forty years after, to give me a book called Winter Holiday for which I have a sort of tenderness.
Springtime in Bowness-on-Windermere, and Windermere starts to take on the mantle of the soft and genteel English landscape. Multiple shades of green foliage intersperse with the colourful hues of native flora. Daffodils by the Lake give it a festive look, with their bright yellow heads and deep green stalks. When they dance in the breeze, it makes one want to dance too!
And finally we come to the mature colours of autumn time, when an explosion of reds, yellows, oranges, browns, greens, mauves and all colours inbetween create a showcase of incredible beauty. With so many trees and shrubs surrounding Windermere, these colours are reflected faithfully on the surface waters of the Lake. Take a cruise on the Lake at this time or walk up to the viewpoints above Blenheim Lodge, and take in the full glory of this panoply of colours. You will not be disappointed.
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.’
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