Bowness-on-Windermere is one of the most popular towns in the Lake District. On the shores of the lake, and surrounded by mountain scenery, it’s a haven for walkers looking for routes right from the centre of town. If you’re after a pretty, challenging, or gentle walk directly from Bowness-on-Windermere, then you’re in the right place. There’s no need for cars, buses or boats here, just head out of the door of your holiday cottage and take in some of the spectacular scenery!
Read on for our pick of some of the best walks directly from Bowness-on-Windermere.
Note: These descriptions are brief guides only. Please check the route thoroughly before setting off and make sure you have appropriate experience, clothing and equipment for the journey.
1. Brant Fell
Distance: 1.5 miles
Good for rewarding views with minimal effort
Brant Fell is a diminutive fell right on the edge of Bowness that nonetheless offers a spectacular viewpoint at the top. You can be up it and back down again within an hour (or longer if you want), so it’s perfect if you have a bit of time to fill before dinner.
Following Brantfell Road out of town along the Dales Way, you’ll start a fairly steep climb as you head away from the shops. Turn right at the signpost for Post Knott and follow the path until you reach the viewpoint, which takes in Windermere Lake over the trees. Continue a short distance further to the peak of Brant Fell, where you’ll get even more amazing views. From here, you can head back down to the village in a circular route that eventually joins back with the Dales Way at the Post Knott signpost.
2. Orrest Head
Distance: 3.5 miles
Good if you use a powered wheelchair or have a pram
This is the hill where author and fell-walker Alfred Wainwright is said to have really fallen in love with the Lake District. If that’s not a good reason to climb it, we don’t know what is!
There are a number of ways up Orrest Head, all of which are relatively straightforward, but you should start by following Lake Road northeast out of Bowness and through Windermere to the junction at Church Street. Carefully cross onto the signposted track that starts opposite Natwest and heads to the left. Then, simply follow the signposts all the way to the top: the fully tarmacked track has been specially made to be more accessible and is a Miles Without Stiles route. At the top, take plenty of time to enjoy the panoramic views before descending back into Bowness.
3. The Dales Way
Good for a flexible, easy-to-follow route
The Dales Way is an 80-mile long-distance trail that stretches from Ilkley in West Yorkshire to Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. And, while you may not want to attempt the whole route (or maybe you do!), you can enjoy a very pleasant ramble along the Bowness section.
Start at the top of Brantfell Road, at a stone bench conveniently marked ‘For those who walk the Dalesway’. The route is well signposted and passes over small hills, through farmland and, if you travel far enough, along riverbanks. This is a great option for a walk from Bowness because it follows an obvious track, takes in lovely countryside, and you can do as much or as little as you like. Simply walk as far as you fancy and then double back into town, or follow one of the other footpaths that lead off the route for a more circular option.
4. Cockshott Point and Ferry Nab
Credit: Cumbria Tourism
Distance: 1.2 miles
Good for an easy lakeside ramble
Another Miles Without Stiles route, the circular path to Cockshott Point and Ferry Nab is a short, flat walk that’s ideal for an evening saunter.
From Glebe Road Car Park, go left along Glebe Road and follow the surfaced path into the fields. You can take a small diversion right up to Cockshott Point, but please note that this is across unpaved grass, so is unsuitable for most wheelchairs and prams. On the designated path, walk until you reach the lake and then follow the water to your right until you get to Ferry Nab. Make use of the benches along here to enjoy the view. You then follow the route back along Rectory Road and to the car park, or straight into Bowness if you prefer.
5. Bowness Circular
Credit: Cumbria Tourism
Distance: 4 miles
Good for getting a feel of the area around Bowness
To explore the area immediately surrounding Bowness, this circular walk is just perfect. There’s an extended section along a busy road (with pavement) but otherwise this is a lovely route that experiences both the bustling town hub and the quieter countryside.
Start at Bowness Pier and head for the small hill of Biskey Howe. It’s a quick up and down before you’re back onto Helm Road and following the path towards Matson Ground. Continue along the footpath into the fields on the edge of town, across Lickbarrow Road and towards Scout Beck. You’ve then got a lovely walk alongside the river until you cross the beck onto the Dales Way going south. When you reach the (usually busy) main road, follow it for a little while until you take a right onto a quieter country road, after which you’ll turn left onto Lickbarrow Road. If you want to skip this section, you can continue along the Dales Way as it passes through Matson Ground.
The final stretch takes you on a footpath along the lower reaches of Brant Fell and back into Bowness at Brantfell Road. If you’re not too tired, it’s well worth taking a detour to the top of this low fell to admire the fabulous views.
6. Wansfell Pike and Ambleside
Distance: 7.5 miles one way
Good for experienced walkers
For a rewarding route that sees less foot traffic than other fells in the area, look towards Wansfell Pike. You can head over the mountain on your way from Bowness to Ambleside, stop off for lunch, and then head back the way you came for a good day’s walking.
From Bowness, follow Lake Road up into Windermere and to the top of Orrest Head via the signposted route that starts opposite Natwest. Drop down the other side, via Longmire Road, and into Troutbeck, after which you’ll head up to the top of Wansfell Pike via Nanny Lane. Take plenty of time to look behind you at those gorgeous views!
The descent into Ambleside is quite steep, so take care. You’ll pass beautiful Stockghyll Force on your way into the village, where you can stop for refreshments and even catch a bus back to Bowness if you don’t fancy the walk back.
Self-catering cottages in Bowness
Bowness is a fantastic place to visit thanks to its many walks and plethora of attractions. Find your perfect holiday home in the town from our collection of self-catering cottages in Bowness-on-Windermere.
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Driver image credit: Cumbria Tourism
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.