Lake Windermere, some 10 miles long and 1 mile wide is the biggest lake in the Lake District and is the largest lake in England.
On the eastern side of the lake, Bowness Pier at the edge of Bowness village is the central commercial point for ferries and steamers which ply the lake.
The Victorian villages of BOWNESS and WINDERMERE were merged into one after Windermere developed following the arrival of the railway in 1847.
The Hole in the Wall pub
The most southerly pier is at Lakeside with steamer connection to Bowness and also access to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.
There are several small islands in the lake and the largest, Belle Isle, is the only one which is inhabited and is privately owned During the English Civil War it was the stronghold of a staunch Royalist (see story under Kendal church). The island contains what is said to be the country's very first circular house which was built in 1774.
The island is not open to the public.
The New Hall Inn in Lowside at Bowness on Lake Windermere which dates to 1612 is better known as 'Hole in t'wall' due to the fact that it adjoined the old blacksmith's. Apparently the thirsty smithy made a hole in the joint wall so that his ale could easily be passed through. The hole has now been enlarged into a doorway and the old smithy is now part of the pub.
An inscription on a beam reads: 'The blacksmith he did sweat in here and slake his thirst on
Thomas Longmire, champion wrestler of England and holder of 174 belts, was landlord 1852-1862. It is said that he was visited by Dickens in 1857 who described him as a quiet looking giant.
The northern most pier is at Waterhead on the outskirts of the Victorian village of AMBLESIDE
Stock Ghyll once powered several mills.
but this little delightful town is now given over to tourism.
A great attraction is a curious tiny building built on a stone arch spanning Stock Beck, it is known as The Old Bridge House. This charming early 16th century structure was originally built as a summer house for Ambleside Hall, but subsequently became a dwelling house. In the mid 19th century, Charity Rigg, his wife and six children are said to have lived in this tiny one up and one down house. To get from the tiny downstairs room with its little fireplace, they had to go outside where stone steps lead to the equally tiny upper room.
This building is now in the care of the National Trust.
The 180 foot tower of St Mary's Church dominates the area.
Designed by Gilbert Scott, the church was consecrated in 1854.
Just north west of Ambleside is the village of GRASMERE where famous poet William Wordsworth was buried in 1850 soon after his 80th birthday. He had lived at nearby Rydal Mount for 37 years and before that he had lived at Dove Cottage for some nine years.
St Oswald's Church.
There is a memorial to Wordsworth inside the church but the man himself was buried amongst a cluster of family graves in a corner of the churchyard alongside the tiny River Rothay. His gravestone bears the simple inscription : 'William Wordsworth 1850'.
Gingerbread has a long history in Grasmere and a little cottage at the church gate is apparently where it was all started by a lady called Sarah Nelson. The cottage is now a little shop where the tradition is continued to this day.
HAWKSHEAD is a mediaeval village which has changed little from its past and is where William Wordsworth went to school. It is situated just north of Coniston Water and to the east of Windermere.
St Michel and All Angels Church is on the 'Wordsworth' trail - he worshipped in this church. Although now stripped of its outside white paint, it is the church of which the poet wrote:
'I saw the snow-white church upon her hill, Sit like a throned lady sending out,
A gracious look all over her domain'.
An unusual survivor can be seen outside the east wall of the church - it is a long stone bench known as 'Church End' where parishioners sat after services to hear public notices and became a general meeting place for the villager's. Quite a rarity.
The 15th century Red Lion Inn is the oldest pub in Hawkshead.. This old coaching inn was on the Morecambe Bay, Cartmel, Coniston stagecoach route and the locals have many interesting stories to tell. Ask about the two figures on the façade of the inn and you will be told that one is a farmer with a pig under his arm – he is on his way to market; whilst the other is a man with a whistle – he blew the whistle to start the market. Opposite the pub is a narrow cobbled street which was formerly called, Leather, Rag and Putty Street!
Formerly the Barngate Inn near to the village of Outgate just north of Hawkshead, The Drunken Duck Inn obviously has a story to tell. Apparently a Victorian landlady found her six ducks lying ‘dead’ outside and she started to pluck them ready for the oven. However,. She soon found that they were not dead – they were drunk! It seems that a barrel of beer in the cellar had leaked into the duck’s feeding ditch! The distraught lady, it is said, knitted woollen jackets for the ducks until their feathers grew again!
A 17th century notice, preserved at the Drunken Duck Inn reminds us how seriously witchcraft was taken at that time :
The little village of LOWICK is situated south of Lake Coniston around the A5084 road.
A story is told of an early 'cottage industry' where a Lowick family had no land but enjoyed common rights to breed geese. When the geese were ready for market they had their feet tarred and were then 'walked' some 20 miles to the Martinmas Fair at Kendal.When the geese were sold, the family returned home laden with whalebone which they made into corsets for re-sale.
A very enterprising family.