Things to do on Lake Windermere
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 LakeDistrict.org
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 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
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.
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
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.
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
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:
- 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.
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:
- High performance - great speed, good comfort and maximised deck and cockpit space for outings
- 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
- Express cruiser - slightly larger, with enough room for overnight stays
- 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:
- Usage: are you just wanting a boat for the day, or are you planning overnight trips?
- Does the seating and space is adequate for your requirements?
- Spending time in the cockpit to make sure that it feels deep and secure with lots of grab handles
- Checking that there is enough stowage for a family day out, or weekend away
- Checking that the cockpit is large enough for extra bodies if the weather changes and you need to take cover
- Not overlooking the party accessories like drinks holders, cushions and stereo.
- Do you need a head (toilet)? Not all cruisers have them as standard.
- 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 Boats.com, 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.
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:
- Think about power, yes speed is great, but the longevity of the engine is just as important
- 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.
- Think beyond speed, and do consider comfort, space and your expected time out on the water
- 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
- 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 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.
Answering the Questions that May Be Holding You Back
Buying a boat, especially your first boat, can be a quite a daunting experience and, as with any purchase, the more research you do, the more likely you are to make the right decision for you; however, with so much information out there, buyers can start to feel ‘all at sea’ and left a little ‘high and dry’.
So, if you’re thinking of buying a boat on Lake Windermere, we can help ‘steer’ you in the right direction and have tried our best to answer some of the questions that may be holding you back...
Why should I buy a boat?
Before setting sail on your boat-buying adventure, it is important that you establish your reasons for wanting a boat and think about how you might use it. Do you plan to use it to get away by yourself or will your boat need to accommodate the whole family? Do you dream of sleeping at anchor under stars or will you use it to explore beautiful landscapes? Will you use it to race or relax? To hang out with friends or to simply spend more time outdoors? There are lots of questions to ask yourself before buying a boat but when asking yourself why you should buy it at all, the answer is simple: improved quality of life. Boating not only gives you an excuse to spend more time outdoors, which offers immeasurable health benefits, it is extremely rewarding, reduces stress, helps you develop new relationships and spend quality time with friends and family. And if all of that isn’t enough, owning a boat is undeniably and universally considered cool! Who doesn’t want to spend a warm summer evening on their own boat with their closest companions, enjoying snacks, drinks, and laughter?
When would I use the boat?
Anytime! That’s the beauty of owning your own boat. It can be used by you, whenever you like, at times most convenient to you, especially if you’re lucky enough to work flexible hours or even retired. Alternatively, if your schedule is slightly more restrictive due to work commitments, then what better way to spend your weekend than in the open air, on your own boat, cruising around one of the UK’s most idyllic locations, sailing away from those ‘Sunday Blues’? Trust us; it certainly beats watching Antiques Roadshow!
OK...but why Lake Windermere?
At ten and a half miles long and 219 feet deep, Windermere is England's largest lake; this makes Windermere and its surrounding areas arguably the most popular location in the whole of the Lake District. As such, there are a range of activities and things to do around the lake; from restaurants, pubs and boutique shops to attractions like The World of Beatrix Potter™, there really is something for everyone around Windermere. The lake itself also offers boat owners calm and peaceful waters, the ideal setting and ‘best seat in the house’ to relax and enjoy the picturesque views of the area. Additionally, if new to boating, it is perfect for newcomers to build-up experience of sailing before heading for the more challenging waters of the open sea. Be warned though, once you buy a boat on Windermere, you may not want to leave this tranquil location behind!
What kind of boat would I even buy?
Buying a boat should be an enjoyable, exciting experience, and it is our aim to make the process ‘plain sailing’ for you. As such, before buying, ask yourself a few key questions such as the ones listed above, to make sure that the boat you are considering will serve your purposes. When and how often will you use it? What type of boat would suit your needs and the needs of your family? Once you have an idea of the sort of thing you might require, browse through our ‘Boats for Sale’ section and get in touch to see what we can do for you; we have a range of boats on offer, new and pre-owned, all of which are available for viewing and demonstrations, and we look forward to showing you how we can help bring your boating ambitions to life, here on Lake Windermere.