Wednesday, 26 July 2017

A Day Out with Windermere Lake Cruises - The Lake District

After a couple of days of heavy rain, we were delighted to be able to get out and about and enjoy the sunshine on Monday 24th July. We decided to travel half an hour down the road from our accommodation in Carnforth and head to Bowness-on-Windermere for the day and see what Windermere Lake Cruises could offer for a family adventure both on and around the lake.

We arrived in Bowness-on-Windermere at 10:30am and to our surprise we managed to park quite easily in the car park near The World of Beatrix Potter attraction which cost £7 for the day. We purposely chose to park here so that we could enjoy a walk through the town on the way down to the lake and also to pick up some sandwiches that we could take with us for a picnic. Once we reached the lakeside we saw the sign for Windermere Lake Cruises and picked up a leaflet which featured all of the cruise routes and timetables. The leaflet also provided information on the ticket prices for the different routes and we spent a few minutes deciding where we were going to visit for the day.

We had a Freedom of the Lake ticket which meant that we could travel on a continuous round the lake cruise (approximately 3 hours long) or we could travel on any of the cruises listed in the Summer 2017 timetable apart from the evening cruise. This meant that we could stop and start our journey around the lake in whichever way we would like and take in the various stops that were available.

Last year we had visited a place called Brockhole and noticed that there was a stop here on the red route. My children had loved their visit previously and so we thought that it would be a nice idea to travel from Bowness to Brockhole for a picnic and then catch a further boat from Brockhole to Ambleside before making the return journey back to Bowness. 

Once we had decided on our route I visited the kiosk where I was greeted by a friendly and helpful gentleman who was able to answer some questions that I had about the cruise. He informed me of the next sailing time which was at 11:20am and so we joined the small queue that was forming to board the boat.

All guests were welcomed onto the boat by a member of the crew and I noticed a couple of guests with mobility issues being helped down the steps and being offered assistance. There was a choice of seating downstairs on long seats with tables in between, or upstairs where you could enjoy the fresh air. As it was still a little chilly in the breeze we opted to sit downstairs on this journey and my children enjoyed looking out of the window at the passing boats. Our boat on this sailing was only half full and so there was plenty of room for everyone, but as the day progressed and the sun came out, the boats certainly got much busier. Therefore if you want to avoid the crowds then I would definitely recommend one of the earlier sailings.

Once our journey commenced we were surprised to find that it was actually very smooth. I'm not sure why but we had expected it to be a little bumpy, but it was very steady and we enjoyed a pleasant cruise to our first stop of Brockhole. At various points along the lake we were also provided with information from the crew through the tannoy about any particular points of interest that we passed.

After a short while we arrived at Brockhole where we disembarked. We enjoyed a short walk to the picnic area which was based alongside a large adventure playground, where you could also see the Treetop Nets and Zip Lines from the Treetop Trek which was a payable attraction sited within Brockhole. My children enjoyed a good half an hour play on the park before we walked over to the lakeside to enjoy a game of crazy golf. The golf cost £10 for a family of five which I felt was cheap in comparison to some places we have visited. The course wasn't too busy, so we didn't have to wait too long at each hole and likewise we didn't have to worry about keeping people waiting behind us either. The mini golf was lots of fun although some of the holes were very tricky!

Once we had finished our game we sat near the lake where you could hire rowing boats and enjoy some time out on the lake. We opted not to do this and when the kids were ready we returned to the Windermere Lake Cruises pontoon to catch the next boat to Ambleside which was the 1:45pm sailing. When the boat pulled in we were a little worried to see that it was completely full and only six people disembarked so we didn't think we were going to be able to travel to our next stop of Ambleside. However, we were pleased to find that Windermere Lake Cruises clearly think ahead for this kind of situation and had a smaller boat on standby to take everyone to Ambleside where they could either disembark or join the other boat.

The boat we travelled on was much smaller than the others, but very enjoyable all the same. We sat in the open front and being quite low down we did get ever so slightly wet but the kids loved this and said it just added to the fun. The journey from Brockhole to Ambleside took approximately fifteen minutes and when we arrived we decided to stay for a while and enjoy an ice cream before catching our return boat back to Bowness. The town of Ambleside is actually just under a mile away from where the boat docks, but if you don't fancy the walk then we noticed that there was a shuttle bus that ran to take passengers into town. We decided not to do this and instead stayed by the Pierhead cafe and enjoyed a drink and ice cream on the waterfront. The sun was shining brightly by this point and we had a really nice time just relaxing by the water. The cafe menu had some nice dishes and there was also a kiosk selling drinks and ice creams as well as a chip shop just across the road if you wanted to have a bite to eat elsewhere.

As it reached closer to our departure time to return to Bowness we noticed that a very large queue was beginning to form. As the children had already requested that we sat upstairs on the return journey, we decided to join the queue to make sure we had good seats. When the boat arrived we found it was much larger than the other two we had travelled on and was absolutely jam packed with passengers. We waited around 15 minutes for everyone to disembark before we could board and made our way to the top deck. My children were able to select where we sat and there was still plenty of room for everyone to have a comfortable journey back.

Our return journey was the favourite part of our day out as it was a nice pleasant cruise of around 35 minutes and the kids enjoyed waving to everyone on other water craft as they passed the boat. It was nice to see so many people wave back to them and it became a bit of a challenge to see if they could get everyone to wave. (Only one boat didn't!) As we had a Freedom of the Lake ticket we had originally planned to take another cruise to the Lakeland Motor Museum however Riley was beginning to get really tired after a busy day and so we decided to end our Windermere Lake Cruise experience on our arrival back in Bowness.

Overall we had a fantastic time with Windermere Lake Cruises and look forward to trying another route with them in the future when we return to the Lake District.

Top Tips!

* If you are wanting to make full use of the different cruises then purchase a Freedom of the Lake ticket which will allow you to travel on all routes over a 24 hour period.

* If you want to avoid the busier periods then catch one of the earlier sailings.

* If there is a bit of a breeze then you may want to sit downstairs otherwise it can get a bit windy on the top deck.

* If you aren't sure about any of the stops or need help with the timetable, then just ask one of the crew or a staff member in the ticket office. All of the staff we came across were more than happy to answer any questions I had and help us with any queries we had.

* Children under 5 travel for free, so make sure you take this into consideration when purchasing your tickets.

Important Information:

Telephone - 01593 443360

Ticket prices - There are a wide range of different ticket choices and prices. You can purchase cruise only tickets or also combine these with some lakeside attractions. For the most up to date information then please visit the Lake Windermere Cruises website at or their social media accounts which are:

Twitter - @Windermereboats

*Disclaimer - We were provided with a press pass which we exchanged for a Freedom of the Lake ticket for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. Information provided is correct at time of writing, but is subject to change, so would always recommend visiting the attractions own website for the most up to date information.

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