The Windermere Way

A spectacular walk around Windermere

© 2019 Phil Kirby Email

The Windermere Way is a circular walk that takes you right around Lake Windermere. The route includes most of the accessible lake shore paths together with ascents of all the high points around the lake. It offers some stunning walking and an ever changing vista of Windermere.

Lake Windermere is the largest of all the lakes in the Lake District and also the largest in England. At 10.5 miles long it has it’s head in the mountains and it’s foot almost on the coast and is surrounded by some stunning and very varied scenery.

The northern basin of Windermere - Photo courtesy John Morrison

Windermere is the largest town in the Lake District and it’s position on the lake does mean that it attracts far more than it’s fair share of trippers. Nonetheless it makes a good base with easy road and rail links. It only takes a few minutes walk to be clear of the bustle and be out on the lakeshore or the adjoining felltops.

This walk circumambulates Windermere and includes just about all the accessible lake shore paths together with ascents of the high points around the lake. It thus offers an ever changing vista of the lake and visits both popular and out of the way places.

The route is broken down into four sections that most people will manage in a day’s easy walking. The Windermere to Ambleside walk starts at Bowness Bay and follows the lake shore northwards before ascending Orrest Head, dropping down again to cross Trout Beck then taking to the high fell tops, visiting Wansfell Pike the highest point on the walk.

The total length of the walk is about 45 miles. As it’s a circular route, you can choose your own starting point.
windermere way

Between Ambleside and Ferry House, the walk starts by climbing that Lakeland jewel, Loughrigg, then drops down again past Loughrigg Tarn and on to a pleasant lakeside stroll by Wray Castle. It then climbs steeply again, to give enviable views from Claife Heights, finishing at Ferry Nab.

The Windermere Ferry runs a return service at 20 minute intervals during the season and less frequently in winter. The ferry is usually withdrawn for service at some point during the winter and can also be withdrawn in extreme weather. When this takes place a passenger launch is usually provided but you are advised to check before setting out. Don’t get caught on the west side, it’s a long way back.

Between Ferry Nab and Lakeside the route passes through Cunsey and winds along the western shore of Windermere, visiting the enchanting High Dam at Finsthwaite before concluding at Lakeside Steamer Pier.

A regular steamer service operates in the summer. In winter this is reduced and only operates during daylight hours. There are also regular bus services should you choose to break the journey at different points.

The final stretch from Newby Bridge back to Bowness is the longest and doesn't touch the lakeshore at all, but does afford some excellent views from Gummers Howe and lovely walking through the woods.

By using a combination of steamers, ferry and buses you can start and finish at many points along the way and return to your starting point, without the need to keep changing your Lake District accommodation.

The Windermere Way guide was first published in January 2001 and this website followed in 2008.

Since it's inception hundreds of people have enjoyed the route and I hope in the future hundreds more will too.

A lot of changes have happened in the 17 years since it was originally conceived, new paths have been created, new bridges built and some removed and in some places, just a better alternative become available.

So it's time for a bit of an update. During the Winter/Spring 2018-19 I will be revising the whole route and updating where necessary.

The original route will remain on the website for the forseeable future along with the updated one.

So far the Waterhead to the Ferry section has been resurveyed as has the Lakeside to Bowness section and these are now on the website.

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