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Windermere is a very popular sprawling tourist town on the shore of Windermere, only about halfway along the 12 mile length of the lake between Waterhead at the North end, and Lakeside at the South end. It developed after the opening of the railway line from Oxenholme and Kendal to Windermere in 1847. Bowness was the nearest accessible point on the lake.
The Victorian influence can be seen everywhere - in the late 19th century, wealthy businessmen from Lancashire built large residences overlooking the lake, and many of these have now been converted to hotels, such as the Langdale Chase Hotel, and the Belsfield Hotel. Others houses include The National Park Visitor Centre at Brockhole, between Ambleside and Bowness
The Belsfield Hotel, overlooking the Bay, was once home to Henry Schneider, chairman of the Barrow Steelworks. Every morning he left home, travelled on his steam yacht SL Esperance, on which he had breakfast, on his way to Lakeside. There he would travel by train in his private carriage (he owned the railway too) to his job in Barrow ! His steamboat, SL Esperance, is now preserved in the Windermere Steamboat Museum in Rayrigg Rd. A short stretch of the Railway is now preserved as the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. Boat trips can be taken from Bowness Pier to Lakeside Pier, which is also the Lakeside station of the Railway.
St Martin's Church is the parish Church of the area, and was built in 1483, with various alterations, including the restoration of 1870, when the Church was enlarged. It is probably the most interesting building in Bowness, and is worth looking inside. The area behind the church is the oldest part of Bowness, a delightful web of narrow streets known as Lowside, which gives an idea of what the village was like before the arrival of the railway.
The town of Windermere largely grew around the railway station, about a mile and a half from the lake itself. The village was originally called Birthwaite, but the railway company decided to call the station after the lake. Just beside the station is the Lakeland Limited kitchenware shop, which contains the Miller Howe Cafe, one of the best places to eat in the area.
A short walk from Windermere takes you to a place called Orrest Head, an outstanding viewpoint. It was the first 'summit' in Lakeland visited by A Wainwright, author of the famous guidebooks, in 1930.
At Lakeside, on the southern end of Englands largest lake, Windermere, you can discover in over 30 displays the fascinating and often secret world of wildlife and freshwater creatures dwelling in and alongside these magnificent waters.
A dramatic mountain-top waterfall marks the start of the journey, leading down a moorland stream complete with salmon. Next you will see the otters before moving on to see nocturnal life on the riverbank.
You will see several varieties of trout, the pike, and Windermere's elusive char. Finally you will see the freshwater fish of the estuary, and the seawater inhabitants of the bay, including rays and sharks from around our coast. The aquarium is at the Lakeside Pier, where you can arrive by boat from Waterhead or Bowness, or you could come on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. There is ample parking. There is a gift shop within the aquarium, and a restaurant on the Pier with panoramic views of Windermere.
Eden Ostrich World at Langwathby Hall Farm is a farm visitor centre with something for everyone. You can meet the ostriches, cattle, horses, deer, pigs, sheep, goats and ducks. You can watch the baby ostriches hatching in the hatchery. There is a daily talk here about the ostrich.