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Things to do in Windermere

Things to do in Bowness on Windermere

The lake district is one of the most beautiful places to visit within the UK.  The views, walks, shops, attractions and the lake itself provide an overwhelming selection of activities perfect for people of all ages.

Whether you are here for a day, week or month, the memories you create will stay with you for a lifetime!

So, without further ado, we wanted to give you an amazing insight into a few of the amazing places to visit during your stay in Windermere.

Bowness Bay Marina

Bowness Bay Marina is the best place to hire a boat in Windermere.

Let’s start with the main attraction, Lake Windermere!

What better way is there to enjoy the lake by hiring a motorboat?

Exploring the lake will allow you to see a side to Windermere that mere land dwellers will not!

You can see the islands at close hand, cruise to any of the lakeside hotels and bars for a spot of lunch or have a family picnic surrounded by stunning views, the options are endless!

The motorboats for hire by Bowness Bay Marina are set up to cater for most budgets allowing everybody to enjoy the lake. The boats on offer allow couples, families and groups to enjoy the lake.

There are standard and premium options available that can be seen on the Bowness Bay Marina website.

To book one of the boats or find out more information please contact the Windermere Boat Hire team on 015394 45535

Lakes Aquarium
Lakes Aquarium is a great place to visit when in Windermere.
The Aquarium is ideal for families and groups looking to experience animals and climates from a range of different areas such as Asia, the Americas, Africa and of course, the lake district.

Guests can experience a variety of fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians from around the globe, from cute clownfish to poisonous dart frogs to meat eating Piranhas, the aquarium has it all.

The journey starts by following a map through the different sections allowing people to take pictures to document the journey.

We definitely recommend this place during your stay, especially if you have children.

For more information visit the official Lakes Aquarium website here.

The World of Beatrix Potter
The Beatrix Potter Museum offers a fascinating insight into the mind of Beatrix and her characters.
The World of Beatrix Potter provides a magical journey through the eyes of Potter´s most famous characters, Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbit.

The tour starts with a short film that gives you a fascinating insight into all things Beatrix Potter!

Beatrix Potter wrote most of her children´s tales while living in the Lake District, and this fascinating attraction highlights her life and works in a child-friendly environment.

The museum is literally a 2-minute walk from the lake and will keep children of all ages entertained for hours.

When you have visited the museum why not treat yourself to some fish and chips courtesy of Vinegar Jones, one of the most famous chip-shops in the UK.

The museum tour can be booked here.

Steamboat Museum
Steam Boat Museum
The Steamboat museum in Windermere plays home to a unique collection of historic steamboats and motorboats including the SL Dolly of 1850, the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world. Amazingly, the SL Dolly is still in running order

There is a range of boats to view alongside knowledgeable staff who are able to answer any questions.

The museum is located on Rayrigg Road, Bowness, LA23 1BN.

On top of the walks and other attractions, exploring Windermere can be hungry work which is why we have to mention one of the most popular places to relax and experience great food and drink.

Porto Restaurant
Porto Restaurant Windermere
The Porto restaurant is an award-winning restaurant in the heart of Bowness. The AA Rosette awarded eatery has a range of impressive menus catering for all lovers of fine food.

Customers can choose from a selection of Cumbrian classics, 3-course meals or something truly special off the a la carte menu.

The restaurant has several elegant dining rooms to choose from as well as a heated roof terrace to make your experience much more special.

For more information please view the official Porto restaurant here.

And there we have it! Just a few of the most popular things to do in Windermere. Should you have any questions regarding any local activities or anything boat related please contact us directly.

Things to do on Lake Windermere

Things to do on Lake Windermere

rsz winderemere boat sales

If you haven't heard about Lake Windermere, where have you been hiding? It is the epicentre of the glorious Lake District. Windermere is, in fact, the largest lake both in the Lake District and in England with ‘an estimated 10,000 boats registered to sail on its waters', according to

It is also home to our boat showroom and Bowness Bay Marina, our boat hire company. We feel incredibly lucky to call Lake Windermere our home and love how people from near, far and wide come to experience what the area has to offer. However, we noticed that most guides tell you about what you can do IN Bowness-On-Windermere. We’re going to tell you what you can do ON the lake itself instead.

Head to Bowness Bay Marina

Hiring your own boat allows you to experience the serenity of the lake without the crowds of passenger boats. It is so peaceful looking at the hills and mountains on one side and the unique Lake District architecture of the houses on the other side.
Bowness Bay Marina, our sister company, also in Bowness-On-Windermere, is the place you need to go to hire your own boat. The marina has several options that we’ve broken down for you. That way, you can get an objective point of view of what will suit your needs, budget and experience.
Of course, we are located here too. Pop in and see what boats we have if you are thinking of becoming a boat owner yourself.

What to hire:

Electric boats are ideal for families and small groups looking to explore Lake Windermere.

Electric Boats
Electric boat hire is the ideal option for those with little boating experience. They are easy to operate and boat hire companies on the Marina always provide thorough safety talks and life jackets.  Families love hiring these boats, as they are great fun and reasonable in price to hire. There are plenty of variations in size, but you can fit up to eight on some.  Even the kids can have a go navigating. Make sure that you take a little picnic to have on board.

Two tips you must remember:

 1 – Book in advance

We recommend that you book your boat hire in advance, especially in the peak season. This can be the day before, but it is the best way to avoid disappointment. Queues can become very long and popular boats are snapped up quickly.

2 – Boat Navigation

It is best to stick to the middle of the lake to avoid the commercial ferries. It is easy to navigate your way to the middle and it allows you to enjoy the relaxing surroundings without too much disruption. It takes roughly an hour non-stop to make your way north to Ambleside. Or, allocate a good 3-4 hours to make it a leisurely journey where you can stop to have a bite to eat on the open waters – highly advised on a clear sunny day.

Traditional Rowing & Steam powered Boats

Windermere Boat Sales have a range of boats for sale and hire.

When you prefer a slower pace or want to do as the Victorians did, we suggest hiring out a traditional wooden boat from Bowness Promenade or Ambleside Pier.

You can normally hire these for one to two hours, depending on what your arms can withstand. The joy of this boat hire is the abundance of history.

Did you know that Windermere has its own rowing/steamboat design? One famous passenger boat is the Osprey. Windemere Jetty has lovingly restored the Osprey to steam power and tours are running to experience this small passenger boat in all its glory. This is only at certain times of the year, so check in advance before you commit.

Sailing tours with Lunch or Dinner

Sailing is a completely different experience to boating. It’s wonderful to watch this joyous skill in action, making the experience of travelling across Lake Windermere even more serene.

Several companies in the area offer sailing tours with included dining. This is the option for you if you love the idea of being on Lake Windermere, but prefer to relax rather than navigate and cater for yourself, although you can assist in driving the yacht.

These guided tours are often a great way to start your stay at Lake Windermere, as you’ll get some ‘insider’ tips and ideas on what do elsewhere.

You can only book in advance, but as the Trip Adviser reviews will tell you, these trips are brilliant treats to celebrate special occasions.

Lake Cruises

These are the main tourist attraction on Lake Windermere, so we'll be shocked if you don't partake in the lake cruises. They provide an excellent hop-on, hop-off experience on magnificent Victorian steam liners and cruisers and visit some of the main lakeside attractions from the Lakeland Motor Museum, to Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole, and Fell Foot Country park. It’s a much more serene way to travel around Lake Windermere than by car, and more enjoyable too.

Don’t be afraid of trying Watersports

Watersport activities such as skiing and wakeboarding are allowed on the lake providing no speed limits are broken.

Lake Windermere is probably the perfect place to try out watersports for the first time. It may look daunting from the shore, as people zip across the water with ease, but see this as a positive. Whichever ever watersport you choose, your guide will be incredibly experienced.

Head to the quieter and calmer parts of the lake at the top end of Bowness-On-Windermere and enjoy a session of paddle boarding. It’s perfect for beginners, as you can stand or kneel and you can take part in a guided tour too.

The same tours can be done by kayak and canoeing. With islands to explore, such as Thompson Holme, you can also enjoy a relaxing picnic away from the hoards of tourists. Sounds perfect to us.

At Low Wood Bay, to the north of the lake, you can also enjoy the thrill of powerboats and water skiing, wakeboarding and knee boarding. This has to be a favourite of ours, as experts in powerboats. Again, Low Wood caters to all abilities and ages, so don’t be afraid to visit and try. Guides are very knowledgeable and will make you feel at home straight away.

Head to the waters

Make sure you incorporate an activity on the waters beyond the cruise line tourist trip next time you visit Lake Windermere. You will need to book in advance, but trust us when we say that being on the lake is the greatest feeling. We think you’ll get hooked and will be soon heading to our showroom to invest in a boat of your very own.

5 Great Reasons to Boat on Lake Windermere

5 Great Reasons to Boat on Lake Windermere

The Lake District is well-known throughout the UK for its picturesque scenery, peaceful atmosphere and incomparable lakes, the highlight of which is the beautiful Lake Windermere.

While experienced boaters are well aware of the countless benefits to taking to the waters of Lake Windermere, we thought we’d share a handful of fantastic reasons for new or prospective boat owners to choose Windermere.


Tips For Buying Your First Boat

Merry Fisher 895 Jerome KELAGOPIAN1 a8b5700c45

Tips for buying your first boat 

This time of year is all about goal setting, and if one of your goals to is buy your first boat, then you need to do your research.  Lucky for us, living by the waters of Lake Windermere and having over 30 years experience of selling and repairing boats from Bowness Bay Marina means that we have learnt a lot of do’s and don’ts when seeing customers make their first ever boating purchase. 

Lucky for you, we decided to impart our wisdom with top tips on: how to buy your first boat!

Are you thinking new or used?

Have you budgeted for all the costs associated with buying your first boat?

Have you gained knowledge through sufficient research?

Let’s get started with the fun stuff...

... How do you plan to enjoy your first boat?

We’re delighted that you are clearly drawn to the water and want to enjoy it much more by investing in your first boat purchase. That’s a big moment, so ask yourself, why? 

In our opinion, all boating activates are split into three simple components:

  • Cruising
  • Fishing
  • Water sports 

So, are you a day out with the family on the water type of buyer, a keen fishing person, or an adrenaline junky? Don’t worry, you can be all three, or two, as several boats can be adapted to be multipurpose. However, let’s breakdown the options and highlight what types of boats are suitable for each boating activity. 

Tips for buying your first cruising boat

Cruising is all about family time and entertaining. You pack your picnic and you set yourself up for a full day, weekend or weeks on the water to simply have fun and enjoy the sunshine and the spray.  Therefore, it is important to look at boats that will remain comfortable for that long duration and have the power and simplicity to take you to your destinations, especially if you are new to the boating game. 

A powerboat, such as our brand new 2018 Jeanneau Merry Fisher 695 with a Suzuki DF115 Four Stroke Outboard Engine is a great option. This Jeanneau model as it is a perfectly designed for day outings for a family of four. If you’re thinking of staying out on the water overnight, the Merry Fisher 795 is also due to arrive in our showroom this February. The high class brand, along with the well thought out cockpit and deck design make these a great option for first time boat buyers.  

The Merry Fisher 695 makes an ideal boat for new or first time buyers

Of course, we understand that you still want to do your research. That’s the most fun part and according to Boatest, the best types of boats for first time cruisers include:

  1. High performance - great speed, good comfort and maximised deck and cockpit space for outings 
  2. Deck boat - designed to be nippy on the water and are open to all the elements (apart from a canvas cover if required). This means you truly experience an exhilarating time on the water from start to finish
  3. Express cruiser - slightly larger, with enough room for overnight stays
  4. Motor yacht -  for those requiring plenty of luxurious space for entertaining and intend to spend time out on the water overnight 


If cruising is your thing, your check list for a choosing the right boat must include:

  1. Usage: are you just wanting a boat for the day, or are you planning overnight trips?
  2. Does the seating and space is adequate for your requirements?
  3. Spending time in the cockpit to make sure that it feels deep and secure with lots of grab handles 
  4. Checking that there is enough stowage for a family day out, or weekend away
  5. Checking that the cockpit is large enough for extra bodies if the weather changes and you need to take cover
  6. Not overlooking the party accessories like drinks holders, cushions and stereo. 
  7. Do you need a head (toilet)? Not all cruisers have them as standard.
  8. What power engine will you need to safely reach your destination

Tips for buying your first water sports boat

If you’ve discovered the thrill of watersports such as water skiing and wakeboarding, then you need to look at a tow boat style vessel with an inboard engine, which according to, is the engine of choice, especially when it comes to safety. 

We currently have the 2017 Glastron GTS185 in stock which ticks a lot of the boxes, including an extreme wakeboard tower and an add on swim board extension. Again, this is a great first time buying option, as the power of the in board engine is manageable and safe for beginners.  The Glastron GTS185 offers customers an adrenaline fuelled experience whenever used!

We also know that speed is just as much of an adrenaline rush, so we’ve added speed boats into this section too. For both you need to:

  1. Think about power, yes speed is great, but the longevity of the engine is just as important 
  2. Go for a sea trial to see how you handle the handling. Experience, personal preference and the boat itself will be unique to you. As much as a sea trial is important for a cruiser to test out comfort and space, you’ll only ever know how a speed boat works for you, if you test it out first. 
  3. Think beyond speed, and do consider comfort, space and your expected time  out on the water
  4. Research the history of a used boat, or the sturdiness of the model that you’re considering. As Boatingmag quite rightly suggest, do an internet search for hull failure  with this 40 Point Check list
  5. Consider your experience. If this is your first boat, then you probably lack the experience to manage a super high powered boat. Good entry level boats to consider include the sport boat, jet boat or very basic water ski boat. 

Tips for buying a fishing boat

For the more laid back of us - who can think of nothing better than anchoring up for a day of stress busting fishing - comfort, visibility of the water and space will be the main criteria. 

You also need to:

  • Think about the waterway you intend to fish on and what boat is accepted on it
  • Consider that there is enough space and comfort for any additional passengers (and all their fishing equipment)
  • Don’t over spec on engine power, especially if slow and steady is your preferred pace

A Pre owned Merry Fisher 365 is a cheap option for fishing fans on a budget

A boat such as our used Merry Fisher 635 would make an ideal option for fishing fans on a budget.

Now that you’ve thought about your usage, and we’ve recommended the types of boats suitable, your next decision is...

New v’s used

There are several advantages and disadvantages for buying new or used. Budget plays a massive part. Just like a car, the benefit of buying new should guarantee a relatively fuss free ownership and there are finance options available. Buying used can be more cost effective, but any problems you face are completely yours to deal with. It also depends on how much you are willing to compromise on some features,  unless you are lucky enough to come across the perfectly specified used boat.

From our experience however, we have a bit of general advice for first time boat buyers:

  • Whether buying new or used, try to buy through a dealer or at a boat show. 
  • If buying through a finance deal, check when the title of the boat passes to you
  • Ask about title documentation such as Part 1 Registration, Previous bills of sales and evidence of RCD compliance.
  • Make sure you are satisfied with the seller’s title documentation before you sign on the dotted line
  • If you have very strict requirements, for example, you want a family sized cruiser that can tow a water skier, we suggest looking at new, or use a highly experienced dealer who will source a used boat to your exact requirements 

Finally, it is very important not to forget:

  • Budgeting: Cost in insurance, mooring fees, boat safety certificates, cruising fees , the cost to carry out an independent survey and of course, running costs 
  • Comparing photos and descriptions carefully to see what you are getting for your money. 
  • Always check what is standard and what is optional. Exactly the same as buying a car, you will find that the price shown is a starting price, so budget accordingly when researching
  • Before you buy, conduct a walk around, sea trial and a get an independent survey on a used boat
  • Find out at what stage in the buying process you obtain ownership. That is the moment when you are personally responsible for insuring the boat and paying mooring fees. 
  • If the boat is not registered, who will manage this, you or the dealership?
  • Think about taking a training course beforehand to get the most out of your brand new purchase. 

Knowledge is power when it comes to any first time purchase, so we hope these tips will stand you in good stead when you first approach a dealer. If you have any more questions, please get in touch. 

Contact Us

Windermere Boat Sales
Bowness Bay Marina
Winander House
Glebe Road
Cumbria LA23 3HE

Office 015394 22695



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