Bowness & Windermere Boat Trips & Hire

You can’t visit Windermere without taking to the water – it’s one the best ways to see all that spectacular scenery that surrounds the lake, after all.

There are plenty of options to hop on board

From cruise companies offering a range of routes and stop-offs up and down the length of the lake, to rowing boats, kayaks and self-drive motorboats you can hire if you want to travel under your own steam.

Below is a list of the main players.

Windermere Lake Cruises

Glebe Road, Bowness

Offering cruises from 45 minutes to three hours on England’s largest lake, Windermere Lake Cruises set sail from Bowness, Ambleside or Lakeside – or if you buy a Freedom of the Lake ticket, you can get unlimited travel on their blue, red, yellow and green cruises) for 24 hours.

From steamers (that hold over 500 passengers) to modern and traditional wooden launches, as well as self-drive motorboats for hire, their fleet has something for everyone. Dogs are welcome to exercise their sea legs on board too.

Windermere Ferry

Bowness Nab

Operated by the local council, the Windermere Ferry carries cars, bikes and foot passengers across Windermere from Ferry Nab in Bowness on the east side of the lake to Far Sawrey on the west side.

It only takes about 10 minutes to get across, but beware, the ferry doesn’t operate when the weather isn’t playing ball so always check before you set off.

Windermere boat hire

VIP Lake Tours

The Marina, Bowness

Want to feel like a VIP while you’re cruising on the water? Then, make VIP Lake Tours your first port of call. You can book a private skippered cruise on a luxury motorboat for up to three adults or two adults and two children and explore Windermere in style.

They run a range of cruises from one to four hours – including one that takes in some of the 18 islands that are dotted around the lake.

Brockhole Boat Hire

Brockhole Pier, Windermere

Whether you want to explore the beauty of the lake in a self-drive motorboat, or get energetic in a rowing boat, kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard, you can hire just what you need to get out on the water down at the lakeshore at Brockhole.

Lowood Bay Sports

Low Wood Bay Ambleside

If you’re already a seasoned sailor and hold the necessary qualifications, you can hire a sailboat or sailing dinghy from the fleet owned by the Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre.

And if you’re not a sailor but want to learn – you can do that there too. They also rent out stand-up paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, pedalos and self-drive motorboats (for up to six people).

Discover more of Bowness & Windermere

View our Bowness & Windermere Properties

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In Bowness & Windermere – indoors and out, rain or shine, on or off the water, you’ll never be short of something to do

Bowness & Windermere in The Rain

When the weather isn’t behaving itself and you don’t feel like getting soaked to the skin, it’s time to explore the great indoors

Afternoon Tea in Windermere & Bowness

Is there anything more quintessentially English than afternoon tea? And is there anything better than afternoon tea in the Lake District?

Outdoor Activities in Windermere and Bowness

Hiking on the fells, getting out on the water, or taking part in sporting activities to get the blood pumping

Bowness & Windermere Restaurants and Cafes

There are so many cafes and restaurants that you could eat somewhere different every day. Sounds like our kind of holiday!

Bowness & Windermere Nightlife

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, then you couldn’t be in a better place – you can get both in abundance in the Lakes

10 pubs to visit in Windermere & Bowness

Like stepping into the heart of Lake District community. These places aren't just about grabbing a drink; they're hubs of social connection

Bowness and Windermere Shops

You’ll find a huge range of shops selling everything from unique local gifts to everyday essentials. Here’s a flavour of what you can expect

5 Unmissable Easy Windermere Walks

Grab the kids, grab the dog, grab your gran! Here are our picks for the best steps per smile walks from Windermere and Bowness


Windermere & Bowness Cottages

Windermere’s allure lies in its picturesque setting along England’s largest lake, offering leisurely cruises, lakeside vistas, and a vibrant town ambience.

Meanwhile, Bowness exudes sophistication with its heritage charm, quaint streets, and a delightful array of shops, eateries, and cinemas.

Combined, Windermere and Bowness promise an unforgettable fusion of natural beauty, rich heritage, and captivating experiences at every turn.

Start your journey now. Discover your perfect Bowness & Windermere Cottage >

Discover more of the Lake District

With weekly articles highlighting the very best of the Lake District, there’s always something to get you inspired for your next trip!

If you’d like to be the first to hear of our guides, all our new property listings, events around the lakes, and our last-minute deals

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6 Walks From Grasmere

If you’re staying in or near Grasmere – lucky you – you won’t have to get in the car to start enjoying the breathtaking scenery on your doorstep.

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