Things to do nearby The Hayloft (Windermere)
From the rolling fells to England's longest lake, Windermere is truly spectacular! You can spend days and days just admiring the scenery or enjoying the many attractions that range from a Victorian folly to watersports and picturesque villages to vibrant live music.
Windermere is right at the heart of the Lake District and, thanks to its incredible scenery, fabulous walking, and abundance of things to do, is immensely popular. The village itself has a lovely, bustling atmosphere and plenty of places to eat and drink.
Being just a mile up the road from Bowness-on-Windermere, you are perfectly placed to make the most of its independent shops, museums, cinema, pubs, restaurants and cafés. Take a trip on the steamer around Windermere Lake and hop on and off to explore the different attractions including the Lakeland Motor Museum, Lakes Aquarium and the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Steam Railway. Alternatively, you could ‘do it yourself’ and hire some rowing boats, a self drive motor boat, canoes or a sailing boat. Why not pack a picnic and find your perfect lakeside spot for a gloriously relaxing afternoon?
The Great North Swim is held in June and attracts entrants of all abilities to take part in the three distances on offer. This is a popular event for participants and spectators alike and creates a real buzz of atmosphere around Bowness.
If you read the books of Beatrix Potter as a child or, indeed, if you are enjoying reading them again as a parent or grandparent, then take a trip to The World of Beatrix Potter just down the hill in Bowness and find out more about all your favourite characters – Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, the Two Bad Mice – they’re all in there. You can even explore McGregor’s garden for yourself!
If you want to further explore the literary heritage of the area, catch a car ferry over to Hawkshead, one of the prettiest villages in the Lake District. The centre is wonderfully tranquil, as no cars are permitted (though there is a large car park on the outskirts). William Wordsworth went to school in this village, which is full of quirky house an alleyways. You can find the author’s schoolboy signature carved in a desk at the grammar school. You can also visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery to enjoy an exhibition of her original drawings and watercolours, all set inside a charming 17th century house that was once the office of Beatrix Potter's husband, William Heelis.
Close to Hawkshead is Beatrix Potter’s home. Hill Top at Near Sawrey still has her knick knacks scattered around and, with the fire still lit, it is as if she has just stepped outside for a walk!
Blackwell’s Arts and Crafts House makes for an inspirational visit and retains many of its original features including leaf shaped door handles, fireplace inglenooks and carved wood panelling. There are also other interesting stately homes nearby including Sizergh, Levens Hall and Holker Hall.
Wray Castle is a Mock-Gothic castle owned by the National Trust sitting on the shores of Lake Windermere. You could catch one of the launches over to it from Bowness. It's a magical place for children and adults as, unlike many other stately homes, its rooms are empty, making it perfect for little imaginations to run wild. There are dressing up boxes and dens to be made and all of this without being terrified of breaking something!
There is plenty of walking to be had in the area. You can choose from low level walks near the lake, or go up onto the high fells. A favourite route is up to Orrest Head, which takes you through woodland before you reach the summit, a rocky knoll with fantastic views over to Windermere and the Coniston fells beyond. This is an easy fell to ‘conquer’ and it was here that Wainwright first discovered the Lake District.
Kendal is your nearest large town. The Brewery Arts Centre is well worth a visit; it is a lively arts hub with exhibitions, live music, comedy, cinema and theatre. You can also visit The Quaker Tapestry – an exhibition of 77 small tapestries telling stories of Quaker events throughout the years. Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry make an interesting day out.
Ambleside is a gem of a town in the very heart of the Lake District. It has something for everyone with plenty of outdoor adventures to be had both on the fells and on the water, fantastic places to eat and drink and a rich history dating as far back as Roman times. It has two independent cinemas called Zeffirelli's and Fellini's, both of which incorporate excellent vegetarian restaurants for pre or post movie meals. You can even catch some live jazz in Zeffirelli's bar! The town is also home to Bridge House, surely one of the most photographed buildings in the Lake District! It sits over the river and you can walk further upstream to see the dramatic Stock Ghyll Force, a 70-foot waterfall nestled in a wooded glade
Just beyond Ambleside is Rydal Water and Grasmere, two small lakes with beautiful scenery and walks. If you are lucky enough to visit in bluebell season, the hillsides here are laden with the fragrant little beauties. There is an excellent path from Ambleside to Grasmere along the side of these two lakes, which makes a nice easy walk or a gentle bike ride. When in the village of Grasmere, don’t forget to stop off and buy some world-famous Grasmere Gingerbread®, made from an original Victorian recipe and sold in a tiny, quaint shop in the centre of the village.