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Take a trip along Lake Windermere without getting your feet wet
Windermere Lake Cruises (Cumbria)
Member Name: blissman70
Windermere Lake Cruises (Cumbria)
Advantages: relaxing, scenic, pleasant, enjoyable and well worth trying
Disadvantages: none unless you suffer from sea sickness, (or lake sickness in this case)
You know what it's like, kids off school for the very long 6 weeks summer holidays, under your feet, complaining that they've nothing to do, moaning that they're bored. So you rack your brain to try and find something to do, especially on those very rare sunny days that do happen sometimes in England, (yes they do, sometimes).
That's exactly what I've had to do over the passed few weeks to stop my kids from arguing with each other. I've taken them to many places, shown htem things that they enjoyed, and made them suffer sometimes by taking them places that I knew they'd hate. So when I mentioned to them about a trip to the Lakes they jumped at the chance because they love going there as they like to wander around the many fells and walks.
Unfortunately, for them, what I had in mind was not a walk around the fells but a boat trip along one of the Lakes, but I didn't tell them as I know my eldest is a little afraid of boat rides, (although I don't know why?).
The boat trip I had in mind was one of the many trips that they have on a regular basis which goes along possibly the most popular body of water in the Lake District, the lake that is in Bowness on Windermere, that's right it's Lake Windermere and the lake Cruises that they have on offer.
I'm not going to tell you about the Lake itself, or Bowness as a small town, it is the actual boat cruises that I am talking about, the boat cruises that all start, and end, in Bowness itself, from the piers that protrude into Lake Windermere.
** WHERE ARE THE BOATS THEN..? And how do I get there?
The boats are all moored on Lake Windermere in Bowness-on-Windermere, just off the promenade, which is easy to get too by road, train and bus.
By road it is on the A592, with car parking being found in the many carparks scattered around the area, some are free but most are pay and display. There are Coach drop off points in front of the piers and also in the first car park next to the toilet block along Glebe Road.
There are also several buses passing through Bowness on a regular basis, with stops in front of the piers. These buses come from Windermere, Ambleside and other places.
The nearest train station is in Windermere, which is about 2 miles away, and from there you can get a bus or a taxi to the Lake, the taxi's have a waiting space on the edge of Glebe road and there are usually several there waiting to take you where ever you want to go.
** THE CRUISES and PRICES...
There are three main cruises in all which set off from Bowness piers, plus there is one which sets off from Ambleside.
* The red cruise goes to Ambleside pier, stopping to allow you to disembark, maybe taking a later boat back, then it returns to Bowness pier, this cruise takes about 70 minutes. The cost is £9.50 for Adults, £5.70 for children and £27.50 for a family
* The yellow cruise, which takes around 90 minutes, goes to the Lakes Aquarium, which is opposite Fell Foot Park, stopping to allow you to disembark, maybe taking a late boat back, and then returns to Bowness pier. The price for this trip is £9.80 for and Adult, £5.90 for children and £28.50 for a family.
* The blue cruise, which takes approximately 45 minutes, and is the one we went on last time, goes around the island, passed the car ferry, a little way towards Fell Foot park then returns to the pier, allowing you to take in the scenery of the lake sides. The price for this trip is £7.00 for Adults, £3.50 for Children and £19.25 for a family.
Family tickets are for 2 adults and up to 3 children.
** THE BOATS...
* The Swan and the Teal are the biggest of the bunch, having three decks and capable of holding up to 180 passengers at a time. These boats are ideal for hosting group parties as they offer services such as dining and drinking, with dancing on the upper open top deck.
* The Tern is the elder of the cruisers and can hold up to 80 passengers on its two decks. The lower deck I split into two sections with one section having a licensed bar.
* The Lakeland Vessels are more up to date launches and can hold around 70 people. They all have two decks, with the top deck being open topped and the lower deck having a licensed bar.
* Cumbria Class Vessels are smaller than the Lakelands, capable of holding up to 50 people, but there design is very similar with the double decks and open top look.
All boats can be pre-hired for special occasions such as wedding receptions, birthdays and such like, just contact the booking office for more information.
There are toilets on each boat, although on the shorter trips you'd probably be back in port before you'd finished your business.
As for wheel chairs, there is a ramp provided for getting on and off the boats, although it is advised to pre-advise the 'staff' so that they can get the ramp in position. But you'd never get a wheelchair on the upper decks.
** TIMES AND BOARDING...
Each cruise sets off at timed intervals and the start times are written on the boards which are positioned outside the ticket offices, showing the coloured cruises and the times of departure, plus the length of time the cruise takes.
The boats can all be boarded from the piers which are situated along the front in Bowness-on-Windermere, with each being colour coded for easy negotiation. The wooden ticket offices are positioned along the water front and are all well signed, telling you what they are.
** MY OPINION...
I have been to Windermere several time, overnight stops, weeks long breaks or a simple day out, but I have only been on the cruises once or twice. The latest one I went on was on the Miss Cumbria, which is one of the smaller vessels but still quite a spectacular way to travel.
When we found somewhere to park I told the kids what the plan was, having to gently persuade my eldest daughter with a bribe of a nice meal at the local 'carvery', which included as much ice-cream as she could eat. This bribe worked a treat and before too long we were ready for a lovely boat ride on a beautiful day, not too hot and, for once in the Lakes, not raining.
Once we'd bought our ticket it was just a matter of waiting for the next timed cruise for our particular coloured ticket, checking the boards in front of the ticket offices to see when that was, and luckily we only had to wait a few minutes before we saw the boat coming getting into position, dropping off the passengers who had just had their trip, and now it was our turn.
The switch over, so to speak, took about ten minutes in all, with them departing, the staff doing a quick check along the boat, and our group boarding.
We decided to take a seat on the top deck right at the back, mainly so I could stand up and take pictures without getting in anyone's way.
Then, with a sudden engine thrust, the boat set off, reversing away from the pier into Lake Windermere, leaving the bustling Bowness centre behind.
It was then just a matter of settling back and enjoying the views as the boat floated on its merry way, every so often the announcement stating where in the Lake we were and what we were supposed to look at. The views consisted of stunning scenery and some very grand buildings, including a humongous hotel peeking out from behind the trees and some stunning new builds whose architectural skills are something else.
The cruise itself, as with all the cruises, is so gentle as the boat slid along the water, even my daughter barely felt scared as the lack of movement made her feel as if she was still on land. Although this stillness does depend on the weather so I wouldn't take her on a trip when the winds are whipping across the Lakes surface.
Each cruise takes a different length of time, depending on which one you choose, so it's all down to how much time you have and how long you want to spend on the water. If you're unsure about how you'd cope on the boats then I do recommend opting for the shorter cruise, the Blue cruise, which takes 45 minutes, although once afloat the time just flies by as the scenery gently floats by. Then maybe go onto the longer cruises, just until your stomach settles and any sea-sickness feeling disappears, (it is possible even though it's a lake).
As I said, I have been on a few of the different boats, except the Tern, and have found them very comfortable and well equipped, making me feel as though I'd be well treated if the worst case scenario happened, (think Titanic). The views from the top deck are spectacular, but then again the views from the lower deck are as good, only the window frames can get in the way, especially if you want to take any photographs, with the glass sometimes spoiling the shots if the sun shines on it. So I do recommend sitting on the top deck, especially for the Blue trip.
In all, a very pleasant way to see parts of the Lake District that you don't normally see and a great way to pass an hour or so.
Just choose a boat and enjoy the experience, you'll love it and probably want to do it again and again.
Summary: Even if the mere is windy the cruise will calm the waves
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