12 reasons to spend a weekend in Bowness

Ash Street.

Ash Street. - Credit: Archant

Here are the essential ingredients for a few days in this lovely Lake District honeypot

1. If you have youngsters, then you need to take them to the World of Beatrix Potter on Crag Brow, Bowness. It’s a must for anyone who loves Peter Rabbit and it has beautifully-made displays straight from the books. You can even have a walk around Mr McGregor’s garden. 

2. Just south of Bowness is Blackwell, one of Britain’s finest arts and crafts houses. It’s packed with wonderful pieces of furniture by M.H. Baillie Scott and there are regular art exhibitions and permanent displays.

3.  A holiday here wouldn’t be complete without a trip on the water with Windermere Lake Cruises. You can make trips of between 45 minutes and three hours or buy an all-day ticket and spend happy hours travelling from Bowness to Brockhole, Ambleside and Lakeside at Newby Bridge. In 2016, Bowness will see the opening of a brilliant new visitor centre devoted to the steamers that have operated on the lake for more than a century. 

4.  A mile north of Windermere town centre you will find RHS Holehird Gardens. This lovely plot is maintained entirely by members of the Lakeland Horticultural Society to promote the type of plants that thrive in this northern environment. There are 17 acres and some specimens date back to plantings by the original owners in the 19th century.

5. The wonderfully-named Mountain Goat transport business in Windermere has organised specially tailored tours of the Lakes for the last 40 years so you don’t have to do the driving and the village also boasts Huddleston’s, an award-winning butcher making spiffing sausages. The Royalty Cinema in Bowness shows films, old and new, in an authentic 1930s setting complete with its own mighty Wurlitzer organ!

6. The Brockhole Visitor Centre, a lovely old house with lake views, is another good day out for children. There’s an adventure playground, bike and boat hire, pony rides, orienteering plus treetop nets and treks.

7. One of Wainwright’s early walks was from Windermere to Orrest Head. It’s a popular walk and worth doing for the views from the top which takes in giants like Scafell Pike and Great Gable as well as the jagged outline of the Langdale Pikes and the wave-crest outline of the Kentmere range.

8. The New Hall Inn (also known as the Hole in t’Wall because of the hole where beer was handed into the next door blacksmith’s forge) is on Lowside in Bowness. It is the town’s oldest pub dating back to 1612 and it remains full of charm and character. Dickens once went there (along with just about every other inn in Britain). Nearby is The Albert, which serves some good ales, just up the hill is The Angel, which has a nice beer garden, and The Elleray in Windermere village gets decent reviews.

9.  Where to eat? Porto in Bowness gets good reviews along with Choccobar, Postilion, Caffe Riva and The Country Hut. In Windermere try Café Italia, Lamplighter and a terrific fish restaurant called Hooked. A little further afield, there’s the Wild Boar on Crook Road and the Brown Horse at Winster - both with mighty meaty menus.

10. Places to stay - For a special treat there’s the Laura Ashley Belsfield Hotel in the middle of Bowness, and nearby is the excellent Ryebeck. Bowness also has the super-luxurious Cranleigh Boutique self catering suites. The plush, award-winning Cedar Manor is in Windermere. 

11. If you are a golfer, Windermere Golf Club has some of the most stunning views and a very nice restaurant.

12. There are plenty of gift shops, but our foodie favourites are Hutton's Chocolate, a hand made confectionery shop going back to the 1920s, and Richardsons Butchers, operating from the same site for more than 90 years and still making excellent pork pies.