Windermere with a length of ten point five miles and a width of one point two five miles is the largest natural lake not only in the Lake District but also throughout England. Giving the lakes location with the towns of Bowness and Ambleside and the town Of Windermere only a short walk away, rail and coach connections from the major midland cities and a vast array of accomodation the lake and its surroundings is a very popular tourist recreational area.
The lake contains over eighteen islands the largest of which is Belle Isle which covers over forty acres. The others are smaller and include ‘The Floating Island’ named officialy as ‘Maiden Holm’. Amongst the others are Thompson Island, Lady Holme which once housed a small chapel, Lillies of the Valley Islands famous for the flowers that once grew there, Crow Holm and Silver Holm famous from Arthur Ransoms ‘Swallows and Amazons’. All of the Islands with the exception of Belle Island can be visited by boat. Boats are available for hire from Waterhead, ‘Low Wood, Bowness’ and ‘Fell Foot Park’, the boat availabilty ranges from Sailing Boats, Rowing Boats and small Motor boats. Alternatively Windermere Lake Cruises. As the area is so popular with the sailing fraternity there are also sailing clubs such as the Lake District Sailing club, The Royal Windermere Yacht Club and The South Windermere Sailing Club.
One of the lakes islands ‘Lady Holme’ is now home to a community of Cormorants and for bird lovers over one thousand Ducks Swans and Geese live on Windermere throughout the year including ‘Tufted Duck,Canada Geese’ Greylag Geese’ Mallards, Red Breasted Merganser and Mute swans. Also to be seen throughout the winter months October to April are ‘Great Crested Grebes and Goldeneyes.
For the fishing sports people the lake is home to ‘Charr, Brown Trout, Roach, Eels, Pike, Perch etc. Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout also pass through the lake to spawn and their young pass back through the lake on their migration back to the sea. It should be noted that Enviromental Rod Licences are required to fish and all applicable Bylaws should be observed.
Wildlife in and around the lake includes Otters and the largest variety of aquatic plants including Water Lily, Pondweed, Water Lobella and Reed beds.
Of General Interest on the 13th of June 1930 Sir Henry Seagrave broke the world water speed record on the lake at an average speed of 98.76 mph. The lake also has its own myths and legends including a Snow White Stallion that is said to gallop along the lakes edge and cross over the lake if harm should come to Windermere. There is also the legend of ‘Tizzie-Wizie’ a creature that is said to have the body of a Hedgehog, the wings of a Bee and the tail of a Fox and which can sometimes be heard if you hold your ear at water level. Then there is the ghost of Ciaife that is supposed to have been banned a few hundred years ago to one of the lakes islands by a monk that lived possibly on the island of Lady Holme. Finaly there are rumours that a Nessie like creature was once seen at the southern end of Windermere.
image by Byrnsey