Top 5 Boating Experiences in the Lake District

Top 5 Boating Experiences in the Lake District


Launch of the boating season in the Lakes

Easter sees the launch of the boating season in the Lakes, and the best reminder of why we’re called the “Lake” District.

And with Easter being later than usual this year, there’s a really good chance of some good boating weather to enjoy being out on the water, or next to it.

So here’s our top five boating experiences in the Lakes:

1. We have to start with our brand new Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories. It’s been a long time in the planning and building, but we’re really excited by what we’ve seen so far. The whole place is a celebration of Windermere’s importance in the Lake District, one of the world’s most important collections of boats related to a single location. There’s working steamers, a conservation workshop, exhibitions, regular events and, of course, a Lakeside café. See the website to plan your whole day there.

Windermere Lake Cruises will also be calling at the Jetty on the regular service from Bowness to Ambleside.  You should also look at all the cruises on Windermere including our favourite the Walkers Ticket.

Cruises connect to some of the most famous and iconic walking routes in the National Park, and if you are lucky you might still catch a glimpse of Wordsworth's Daffodils on the west shore of the lake.

2. If we were forced to name our favourite Lake, it would be hard to ignore Ullswater. Its serpentine shape and stunning position with high ranges of fells on either side make this an artist’s dream location, and a great place for dreamers, too. The Ullswater steamers provide the best way to see the lake itself, and the best view of the surrounding mountains. They have been operating for more than 150 years with one of the largest heritage vessel fleets in the world.

Onboard there are open and covered deck seating areas, licensed bars and toilets. The steamers actually operate an all year service with varying timetable connections between Glenridding, Howtown, Pooley Bridge Piers and between Glenridding and National Trust Aira Force Pier. Cruise times vary from 20 – 120 minutes.

3. After a winter out of the water for maintenance, the historic steam yacht Gondola is back sailing on Coniston now. It’s a re-built Victorian vessel that offers the chance of an experience that takes you back to a more leisurely era, riding in style in the opulent saloons or relaxing in the sun on the open deck. We love Coniston for its connections with Donald Campbell, the hero of the Lake District who died here attempting the world water speed record. And for the stories of Arthur Ransome in the Swallows and Amazons series which are set on the lake itself, and on the fell territory all around. The “Wild Cat Island” of the stories lies at the foot of the lake, while the majestic Old Man of Coniston (which the children in the books rename Kanchenchunga) can be seen at its best from the water.


4. On Derwentwater the Keswick Launch Company offers the best way to see the fabulous hills of the northern Lake District. Derwentwater, which is three miles long, can be cruised in a 50 minute round boat trip from Keswick. But you can also use the boats as a water-bus service, disembarking at one of the eight jetties en-route and walk back via well-marked paths to famous landmarks such as Ashness BridgeLodore FallsGrange in BorrowdaleBrandelhow and Lingholm, the holiday home of Beatrix Potter. The cruises sail past four islands, now owned by the National Trust and each with its own special history: Derwent IslandLord’s IslandRampsholme and St Herbert’s Island.

The four launches have open and covered decks and operate on a regular timetable throughout the year. Rowing boats and motor cruisers are also available for hire so you can explore the lake at your own pace.


5. This is the smallest, and quirkiest of all boating experiences, a visit to the magical Faeryland at Grasmere. It’s a tiny bay on the north shore of the lake, a five minute walk from the village centre, which has a handful of pretty rowing boats for hire. There’s a tea garden, with a vast range of teas on offer (try their Faery blend) and a basic menu of scones and cakes. And there are fairies galore in the garden if you go looking for them.

By the way, want to know why Easter is so much later this year? Well, the holiday, in the Christian church celebrating Christ’s resurrection, can actually occur on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

It's set to coincide with the vernal equinox, a day when the sun shines directly on the equator and the majority of the earth experiences nearly equal hours of sunlight and night-time, which signals the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere

Because Christ's death and resurrection happened after the Jewish Passover, which is celebrated on the first full moon after the equinox, early Christians wanted Easter to always take place following Passover, so Easter falls on a different date each year because it, like Passover, is tied to solar and lunar cycles.

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