Things to do nearby Windermere
Near Sawrey is a delightful hamlet just a stone's throw from the shore of Esthwaite Water. Why not try your hand at trout fishing during your stay? Take a walk to Beatrix Potter's former home, Hill Top. Head to nearby Hawkshead and enjoy a potter round its cobbled streets or indulge in a meal at one of its eateries. Walk up Claife Heights right from the door of the cottage and enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Windermere.
Hawkshead is one of the Lake District’s prettiest villages, nestled in the gently rolling countryside between Windermere and Consiton. Steeped in history and with connections to Lakeland's literary legends woven through it, Hawkshead makes a charming introduction to Cumbrian life. No cars are allowed in the village itself (although there is a large car park on the outskirts) and it is full of whitewashed houses, lovely little cafés, good pubs and walks in all directions. Visiting here is like stepping back into a bygone era.
Chocaholics will absolutely love The Chocolate Factory in Hawkshead. With chocolate workshops (for kids and adults), tours, and a cafe, it's a dream location for any chocolate lover! To make it even better, discounts are available for guests booking through Sally's Cottages!
The hamlets of Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey are picture perfect examples of Lakeland villages. At Near Sawrey you will find Hill Top Farm, previously the home of Beatrix Potter. It's now a popular museum and many of the author’s personal knick knacks and the rooms have been kept as they would have been in her day. The Windermere Ferry launches from just outside the village, ideal if you'd like to explore the more bustling Bowness-on-Windermere on the other side of the lake. Sawrey also boasts two good pubs where you'll find real ales and hearty meals.
Esthwaite Water, between Hawkshead and Sawrey offers trout fishing, winter Pike fishing as well as general coarse fishing. Aside from the fishing there is also the opportunity to spot some magnificent ospreys during their season. Why not give it a try in the manner of Jeremy Fisher whose story was inspired by Esthwaite Water?
The cycling and walking in the area is wonderfully varied. The walk up Hawkshead Hill is a classic and continuing on to beautiful Tarn Hows is very rewarding. Claife Heights makes a great walk where there is a viewing station giving the most glorious panorama of Windermere. Get out and about on the quieter roads on your bike, be prepared for a few hills!
Grizedale Forest is a tranquil haven just three miles from Hawkshead. The forest park is home to a captivating range of art works inspired by their natural surroundings. It has 8000 acres of mixed woodland with a web of walking and cycling trails interweaving through the scattered sculptures. The visitors centre is great fun for families. There's a wonderful adventure play area where children can burn off steam to their heart's content. The park also plays host to a "Go Ape" trail where guests could get roped up and take on an exhilarating range of obstacles high up in the canopy.
The delightful Victorian lakeside folly that is Wray Castle lies just three miles away. Set in gorgeous grounds, it's ideal for families with young children as you'll find rooms with dressing up boxes, soft play building blocks and play areas. Outside, there are rope swings, woodland to build dens in and family-friendly gardens.
Blessed with beautiful scenery, Ambleside is a bustling South Lakeland village situated at the northern end of Lake Windermere. Though largely Victorian, there has been a settlement here since Roman times when the fort of Galava was built to house 500 soldiers. Their aim was to defend the south Lakeland fells from invasion and to guard the vital trade route to Ravenglass via Hardknott Pass. The remains of the fort were excavated between 1914 and 1920 and can be found next to Borrans Park at Waterhead on the northern end of Windermere.
Within Ambleside there’s a great choice of eateries, whether you're looking for cosy cafes, pub grub, high-end restaurants or world food. Try Zeffirellis for tasty vegetarian Italian food and take in an arthouse film at their cinema or chill with some live music in their jazz bar. If you’re looking for good beer, head to Ambleside’s hidden gem, the Golden Rule, off the main street. Beautifully unchanged in decades, it’s a favourite of locals, tourist and walkers alike. If you fancy something very special, two Michelin starred restaurants are nearby; The Samling just outside Ambleside and Grasmere's Forest Side. Both have outstanding restaurants producing culinary delights to tantalise your taste buds in fabulous settings
Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and is surrounded by mountain peaks and pretty Lakeland villages. Head along to Waterhead Pier, opened in 1845 and once popular with the Victorians. The bay is now a cluster of gift shops and café where you can while away an hour or two. Steamers and launches sail daily from here throughout the year. The main cruise is a three-hour sail between Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside. Hop off the boat to sample the delights of the steam railway and aquarium at Lakeside or the World of Beatrix Potter attraction at Bowness. Float across Windermere in the evening and watch the sun setting behind the mountains whilst listening to cool jazz on an evening buffet cruise.
At Newby Bridge, at the southern tip of Lake Windermere, there is an aquarium with a whole host of interesting creatures, both water-dwelling and otherwise. On the edge of the lake is Fell Foot, a great park with plenty of open space for games, picnics and gentle walks. You can sail boats on the lake and the bay is perfect for swimming and paddling. Newby Bridge is also one of the stops on the route taken by the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Steam Railway. This journey travels up the river and alongside part of Windermere, taking in wonderful, varied views as it goes.
Coniston Water is a stunning lake that stretches for five miles through beautiful countryside and mountain scenery. Why not take a trip on the traditional launch or the beautiful Steam Yacht Gondola? If you'd rather be under your own steam, so to speak, you can hire motor boats, kayaks and rowing boats at the lakeshore. You can recreate your own Swallows and Amazons story on the Lake that inspired Arthur Ransome to write the books.
Coniston is also famous as the lake where Donald Campbell broke the world speed record in 1955. He was infamously killed when attempting to do the same in 1967. His boat, the famous Bluebird, was raised from the bed of the lake in 2001, along with his remains, and a memorial service was held in Coniston church. The restored Bluebird can be seen in The Ruskin Museum in Coniston.