Windermere and the South

Jonathan’s View

“The popularity of this quarter of Lakeland is down to its Victorian past and softer walking opportunities”

The Area

Lake Windermere has been popular since trains started arriving in the Victorian age. Like many of the seaside towns around the country the town and neighbouring area was developed on the back of the railway Bowness was built, developed and over time exploited. There is plenty to do, with lovely views over the lake although it tends to draw people in who are not after the traditional Lakeland pastimes of walking and other outdoor activities.

With the exception of Kentmere the hills are softer, lower, often covered in attractive woodland and full of nooks and crannies just waiting to be explored. Most who stay in the area never explore it but there is much to see and do for anyone who is prepared to look around.

Windermere & Bowness

Bowness Marina
Bowness Marina

Windermere originated as 3 different hamlets which amalgamated on the arrival of the railway. It is a busy village with a large choice of places to stay. It is set over a mile from Bowness and lakeside and combined with good links to the higher fells to the north has been able to retain much of its character. I actually prefer Windermere to Ambleside and off season it is a peaceful place.

Based on the lake shores Bowness has a large marina. Here hundreds of sailing boats are moored and the marina has access points to the lake for steamers and non-motorised boats and rowing boats. The town can become very full with many visitors never moving from the lake side, particularly if the weather is good. The Victorian influence is strong and there is a distinctive Victorian seaside town feel to the whole place for good or bad.

At the southern end of Windermere lies Newby Bridge with its own community. There certainly plenty to do for the visitor, even though the higher fells are some distance away. The Lakeside and Haverththwaite mini railway runs for 3 ½ miles, the river offers some excellent paddling and messing about whilst it is a great location for exploring the Furness peninsula to the south.

Kentmere & Troutbeck Valleys

On the Kentmere Round
On the Kentmere Round

Kentmere is a firm favourite for walkers with the attractive little hamlet surrounded by an excellent high level ridge, the ‘Kentmere Horseshoe’. It is one of the classic circuits of the Lake District. Sadly there is no pub but a couple of good ones in Staveley at the entrance to the valley. Staveley is a medieval town with some great architecture and a picturesque village square. Taking the A6 north from Kendal there is a tiny road leading in to the 6 mile valley of Longsleddale. There is nothing up Longsleddale except peace, quiet and some good hills at the head! The road does not carry over to Haweswater but a straightforward walk does.

Troutbeck is the valley that is nearest to Windermere and the name signifies both the valley that leads over Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater and the ‘conservation’ village strung alongside the road for a mile and a half. Due to its conservation status Troutbeck is well preserved and attractive with some excellent walking from the door. 3 pubs offer a good choice for an evening meal and close enough to Windermere for any other needs.


Looking north over Kendal
Looking north over Kendal

Kendal is just outside the National Park boundary but is very much part of it. As well as housing the National Park offices it has fantastic access to the whole area. Kentmere and Longsleddale are on the doorstep and the unexplored area to the south is worth exploring. The Howgill fells are close by and the town even has its own little gem of a hill called The Helm.

There is a genuine local community here (although many drive in to work in the National Park) which offers something different for the visitor. The shops are less touristy, there is a good leisure centre and Sizergh Castle is on the doorstep. It also has a large aray of accommodation, some cheaper than being in the park.

Arnside & Silverdale

Silverdale Cove
Silverdale Cove

Only 15 miles south of Kendal is a hidden pearl of an area offering some excellent, mainly low level walks. Most famous for the Leighton Moss Nature Reserve, the Arnside & Silverdale Area lies in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There is a choice of coastal walking and rolling landscape, pretty villages and a feel of peace & tranquility which is only really found on the fringes of the National Park.

The Best Walks near Windermere and Kendal


Bowness and Windermere. Explore these twin towns in a surprisingly pleasant and interesting walk.

Orrest Head. A simple climb from the centre of Windermere to a fine viewpoint. Very worthwhile and enjoyable.

Gummers How. A rugged little fell towards the south of Windermere lake, an easy climb but full of interest for anyone.

Lands near Underbarrow. A quiet area of lovely countryside near Kendal.

Crossthwaite, near Kendal. More delightful countryside that lies between Kendal and Windermere.

Heights of Kendal Fell. A short walk from one of the gateways to the lakes takes you over a local hill and fine woodland.

The Helm . A delightful short walk from Oxenholme with great views and easy walking on The Helm.


Fells above Windermere. A lovely area of low and surprisingly quiet fells that lie just to the east of Windermere.

Staveley & Potter Tarn. An unusual walk but with some lovely riverside and two picturesque tarns.

Finsthwaite & High Dam. A quiet walk through woods, past tarns and on to open fell side near Newby Bridge.

Kentmere and Troutbeck. Wonderful tracks link these two valleys at relatively low level, one of my favourite mid length walks.

Whitbarrow. Near Kendal the summit ridge of this isolated fell is weird, almost like being in the Mediterranean!


Kentmere Horseshoe. One of the wonderful circuits in Lakeland, a long day but completing the full round is very satisfactory.

Twin Peaks of Longsleddale. A secretive valley leading towards Haweswater in an area where Lakeland meets Pennines.

Bannisdale Horseshoe . North of Kendal and featuring 9 of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells. Remote and lonely.

The ‘Other’ Borrowdale. A deep and attractive valley and a high ridge are the highlights of this forgotten area.

Arnside & Silverdale

From Arnside to Silverdale. This walk combines coastal walking, rural meandering and the option of a fell with views to finish.

A round of Silverdale Head. More coastal walking with views over the bay combine with some attractive woodland.

Gait Barrows Nature Reserve. A little sister to Leighton Moss next door this nature reserve is quiet and full of interest

A climb up Arnside Knott. A pretty limestone hill with great views, easily climbed from Arnside village.

Weather Forecast



Other Things to do

Brockhole Visitors Centre. Learn all there is to know about the National Park and enjoy the large outdoor play area.

Beatrix Potter Experience. A theme park in Bowness with tales, stories and a full Peter Rabbit and friends park to explore.

Windermere lake cruises. A choice of boats and length of cruises in Cumbria’s most popular visitor attraction.

Lakeside Railway. A 3.5 mile trip on a steam train from the south shores of Windermere.

Sizergh Castle. A medieval castle near Kendal with imposing ramparts, an interesting interior and great gardens.

Blackwell House. Built in 1900, a fine example of the Arts & Crafts style of architecture and furniture.

Arnside & Silverdale AONB. Click here to find out more about the work and activities within the AONB

Places to Stay

Cottages in the Dales

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