Lake District Stories and Tips

Bowness on Windermere

Bowness is a pretty lakeside tourist town situated halfway along the 12 mile length of Lake Windermere. The town itself is very old but became more visited due to the popularity of the Lakeland poets, most notably Wordsworth. The town became even more popular with the advent of the railways in the 19th century and as a result wealthy Lancashire businessmen built grand homes overlooking the lake. Many of these have now been converted into splendid luxury hotels in beautiful landscaped grounds.

One famous businessman who did just that was Mr. Schneider of Barrow steelworks who even had his own boat, the Esperance in which he sailed down to Lakeside on the south shore each morning to pick up the train to work.

The benevolent Mr. Schneider also left a legacy to the people of Bowness by building the almshouses on Craig Walk.

The parish church of St. Martin is worth a visit, but the best part of Bowness in my opinion are the streets behind the church. The area is known as Lowside and the narrow, cramped streets give an indication of what Bowness was like before the railway came to town.

Drop in at the Hole in't Wall pub. Its proper name is the New Hall Inn but it got it's nickname because of the blacksmith who had his shop next door. He was apparently so thirsty from his work that the generous landlord of the pub had a hole knocked through so that he could simply pass the beer through to his neighbour. The smithy is now part of the pub, which is full of atmosphere with its low wooden ceiling beams and slate floor.

A car ferry takes you from Bowness across the width of Windermere to Hawkshead and Sawrey and the long promenade at Bowness affords terrific views of the water.

Bowness offers a good selection of shops, especially antique shops and some good pubs and eating places. In the height of summer Bowness gets very busy but there's a good veriety of affordable accommodation and you should be able to get something, but booking at least a little while before hand is wise, especially if you have firm requirements.

Bowness is a great base for exploring Windermere and the surrounding area. From here you can take a boat to Lakeside (on the south shore), straight over (as mentioned) and up to Ambleside in the north.

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