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A lovely way to explore Lake Windermere
Windermere Lake Cruises (Cumbria)
Member Name: carlz2001uk
Windermere Lake Cruises (Cumbria)
Advantages: Scenery, tranquil, plenty of seating
Disadvantages: Price a little high but in line with other attractions
On Sunday we decided to take a drive to the Lake District. Living in West Yorkshire we knew we could do the drive in around an hour and a half and have some good quality family time together before the manic few days ahead of us this weekend. Nothing pleases me more than seeing the children running around outdoors, filling their lungs full of fresh air and all being together. We had no plans set in stone for when we got to Lake Windermere but we naturally made our way to the Lake side in Bowness upon our arrival. We have been a few times over the years but have never had the time or it hasn't quite suited our plans to make a trip on the cruises that run regularly across the Lake. This time the children were eager to take a trip on a boat and we decided it would be nice to relax on the Lake for an hour or so and let my husband mess around with his new camera.
As we made our way to the ticket area and towards the information boards, a man approached us to offer us advice. I was most grateful for this as I didn't know which cruise to select (there are three to choose from) and which would be most suited to our time frame and what we wanted to do. The man wasn't pushy at all, and wasn't actually even the one selling the tickets anyway (you have to make your way to the ticket booth to purchase them), and so I found his information useful knowing he wasn't trying to push us into any particular cruise.
We settled on the most expensive option (the Red Cruise) which would offer us the longest trip (around 90 minutes should we stay on the boat and not get off at the specific stops), and suited us the most on that particular day. One of the cruises was quite short and simply sailed around the middle of the lake, and the other option took us to an area which was mostly closed on Sunday anyway.
We had timed our arrival at the Lake perfectly as the cruise we wanted to take was departing in a few minutes so we didn't have to wait at all, we literally got straight on to the boat, found a seat and were off in a few minutes. There was plenty of seating despite us being the last on and it being a lovely sunny day. I think I noticed a capacity of over 500 on one of the signs. The top deck has benches with a canopy and is out in the open. This is where we initially sat to watch our departure and was ideal for my husband who was taking pictures of the scenery as there isn't a glass partition. The children were soon eager to explore though and after about 15 minutes I took them into the lounge area downstairs which is inside. This is perfect for colder weather or for families, and I was happier to let go of the children and let them have a little more freedom than upstairs. In the lounge area is a bar area which served snacks and drinks, although we were happy with the little picnic I'd brought in my bag (as mums do!). I saw plenty of people walking past with hot drinks so this is an option. The deck below had another lounge although we didn't visit that one, and bathroom facilities (my youngest couldn't believe there were toilets on a boat!).
The scenery you will get to see while on the cruise is spectacular. The Lake District is one of my favourite places and you are guaranteed to be given magnificent views where ever you are in the lakes, but on the Lake the views seem to jump out even more, once away from the hustle and bustle of the people and the shops. The peacefulness and tranquillity just make the cruise such a worthwhile thing to do. For anyone interested in photography, the mountain scenery and secluded bays will make beautiful photos that you can treasure forever. When my girls weren't busy throwing themselves in front of my husband's camera, he was busy taking pictures of the scenery that seemed to offer something new everywhere you looked. The on board narrative which isn't constant but explains the history of buildings and certain areas of the Lake is a nice touch. I don't normally like narratives on tourist trips as they seem to bombard you with useless trivia that no one has an interest in, but the information it provided really was interesting. At one point on the Lake it explained that an inventor had died over 100 years ago after testing his boat at 100 miles an hour, it also explained the history behind some of the grand buildings including one where Beatrix Potter regularly holidayed and visited while writing some of her works including Peter Rabbit.
We chose not to get off the boat and have to wait around for others to come along as we got on the boat at 10.55 and had left a massive picnic basket in the car so we wanted to be back for lunch! This suited us perfectly as we were able to relax and take in the lovely views, and then have a wander around Bowness which is full of shops, cafes and restaurants as well as The World Of Beatrix Potter attraction (review to follow later!). Bowness is known as the heart of the Lake District and is a gorgeous holiday town that I always enjoy visiting. Other stops you can make on this cruise include Ambleside which is about 1 mile away from the pier of Bowness and is a lovely Lakeside village with mountains and lovely scenery. This is a lovely place to visit if you want to get away from the busier Bowness. Lakeside is at the southern end of the Lake and has a Steam Railway (which was closed on Sunday) and an Aquarium.
The boat was wheelchair friendly and on our trip there was an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair. The friendly staff helped him on and off with no problems and the lounge area with plenty of tables and seating was ideal for wheelchair users. The only problem wheelchair users would experience would be lack of accessible toilets as these are down very steep steps with no ramp.
The cruises available are:
The Red Cruise (Bowness to Ambleside or vice versa)
The Yellow Cruise (Bowness to Lakeside or vice versa)
The Blue Cruise (Island cruises from Bowness)
I think prices are dependent on seasons and I would recommend checking prices online before you visit. The Red Cruise cost £9.50 per adult and £5.70 per child, with under 5's being able to travel for free. We took our 2 children (1 under 5) and my teenage sister and so were able to get a family ticket for £27.50. The option to pay by credit and debit cards are also handy. Tickets can also be purchased at home online and the ticket can be printed off and shown as you get on to the boat.
While on board I noticed a leaflet for special 'light night' cruises where you can enjoy Jazz Buffet Cruises which lasts for 2.5 hours. The boat has a license to serve alcohol so may be a nice option for something a little different on a nice summer evening.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this little cruise and would be happy to do it again on my next visit to the Lakes, although it may initially seem expensive, the views and the peacefulness of being on the water is most definitely worth it. Parents of young children will enjoy exploring the boat and watching out for wildlife in and around the Lake as well as some of the majestic buildings (such as a Castle built for a Doctor around 100 years ago). Definitely recommended.
Summary: 5 stars
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