Best Lake Shore Walks with a Boat Ride

Best Lake Shore Walks with a Boat Ride


Top Lakeshore walks and boat rides

It’s the LAKE District, folks, so what better way to start a walk than to take a sail across one of our Lakes. It’s the best kind of public transport, with a sense of both romance and excitement added to the anticipation of the walk ahead.

We’ve chosen four lakeshore walks that start with a voyage, beginning with our very favourite over at Ullswater. With all of these, do check timetables in advance. Some routes have a limited service in winter, or in very windy weather.

1: Ullswater shore walk:

This is the second largest of the English Lakes, and many say the most beautiful. The lake is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery in the south, softening to gentle hills at its northern reaches. The views, however, are spectacular throughout its length, from either shore or from the middle of the lake.

Your journey starts in Glenridding, a small and lively village which happens to be the starting point for many of the routes up to the Helvellyn range. The entire village and many of its houses and hotels were badly damaged by the floods during Storm Desmond, but the recovery has been determined and dramatic.

The Ullswater steamers  run one of the largest heritage vessel fleets in the world all the year round. You need a ticket for Howtown, a voyage of about 20 minutes, where you disembark in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Your walk back to Glenridding will take around three or four hours, but if you’re not in a hurry, why not bag a Wainwright…Hallin the start. It’s a lovely little mountain, just over 1000 feet high and with superb views from the top.

Routefinding back to Glenridding is no problem; just keep the lake on your right. But the path is stony, and there’s a lot of ups and downs. You’ll be very glad to see the welcoming café at Beckside Farm at around the half way point, but back at the finish, you’ll have a tremendous sense of achievement.


2: Coniston shore

This is a much shorter and easier walk but especially lovely on an autumn day. Make your way to the boat landings by the Blue Bird Café (where you’ll be glad of a coffee at the end of the walk) and book a ticket on the Campbell or the Cygnet to Torver Pier.

The exotic-looking Gondola, a rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht operated by the National Trust, does lake cruises but doesn’t stop at Torver. You’ll see why when you get there. It’s a very small pontoon-style jetty, at a tiny shingle beach backed by pine woods. There may well be other passengers waiting to embark as you step down onto the path.

A newly-built wooden bridge over a little beck takes you to the start of your homeward journey. Again, just keep the lake on your right, so there are no routefinding problems, just lovely views across the lake to Ruskin’s house at Brantwood, and a quiet track well away from any traffic.

You’ll pass through several campsites, the last of them belonging to historic Coniston Hall with its distinctive chimneys, a farmhouse that’s more than 400 years old but built on a much older site. After that there’s a temporary detour away from the lake shore, around Coniston Sailing Club, before you arrive back at the boat landings and the café, with its famous association with Donald Campbell, the world water speed record holder who died in a record attempt in his vessel, Bluebird, in 1966.


3: Derwentwater shore

Let’s head north now, for Derwentwater, the picturesque lake that lies just south of Keswick and takes the eye – and the traveller – into beautiful Borrowdale. The boat landings are on the edge of town just past the Theatre by the Lake, and it’s wise to check the timetables in advance: the Keswick launch doesn’t run in January and services may be limited in poor weather.

You need to take a ticket to Low Brandelhow landing stage on the far side of the lake. After your short sail, disembark here and continue through the gate by the jetty taking the path that bears left away from the lake. After going through another gate the track bears right and continues to reach a tarmac drive. Turn right here and continue past Hawse End Outdoor Centre.

The path to Keswick is the second on your right just past the private drive to Derwent Bay. Descend through woodland following waymarked tracks, descending to Nichol End Marine and landing stage. From here, take the track back to Keswick via Portinscale, finishing across the River Greta before heading into the town centre.


4: Windermere shore

You can do this one from our doorstep, literally, because we’re suggesting a round trip which involves a bus, a launch, a walk and a ferry, and the bus stop is at our gate.

Take the bus to Waterhead where you need to book one of the Windermere Lake Cruises “green” cruise to Wray castle. This is a restored wooden launch which doesn’t run in winter, so make sure you get there soon.

The jetty at Wray allows the chance to walk up to the castle through some beautiful grounds, or you can just start you walk right away, turning left (south) along the lake shore. It’s a gentle stroll, no more than 1.5 hours, on gentle and easy footpaths, but delightfully quiet when you consider that this is England’s biggest, busiest and most famous lake.

The woods on your right are home to many species of wild birds, some rarely seen in more populated areas.  Deer, both red and fallow, roam freely over the hills around Claife, the estate you are walking past. There’s a more adventurous (well signposted) diversion for those who want to head higher up, but you’ll end up at the recently restored Claife Viewing Station, a wonderful place to admire the lake. You’re nearly at the ferry now. The car ferry has been out of action this summer after a fire, but there’s a service for foot passengers that will take you back to Bowness, and a little walk back up the hill to your cosy room here in Windermere.

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