• Megan Kate

The Perfect Lake District Weekend: What To See & Do In Bowness-On-Windermere | Travel Itinerary

Despite living in northern England for my whole life, the Lake District was unfamiliar to me until I was old enough to go there by myself- my family had a full blown love affair with the Peak District which I can't fault. Since then we've been back and forth there multiple times throughout any and every season, as it's only 2 hours via direct train from Manchester, making it the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway in nature.

Although it competes with many beautiful spots such as Ambleside or Grasmere, Bowness-On-Windermere has definitely become our absolute favourite spot to visit. It's even the place we've booked as our first post-Covid getaway! It's just a short walk from one of the main South Lakeland stations at Windermere, and has perfected the art of being a tranquil countryside town while also still having plenty of attractions to keep you busy. You can easily spend a solid few days here without getting the slightest bit bored, and since hotels are reopening here from July 4th, it's the perfect place for your first weekend of fresh Lake District air since the start of lockdown!

So, what is there to do here? After a lot of research and a few visits (for purely scientific purposes I swear) I've curated what I believe is the perfect weekend itinerary for your next trip to Bowness, and here it is:

Day 1

Let's call it Saturday morning. Maybe you arrived last night and had tapas and cocktails at Bodega before bed (which would have been a great choice) or maybe you just got here, who knows!

For breakfast I recommend heading to Folk, a gorgeous little coffee house that's known for it's breakfast sandwiches. Folk has both vegan and vegetarian options and is dog friendly too; they also have great brunch options and lots of amazing cakes to choose from.

Your first morning is the perfect chance to try out a small walk and see the beauty of the lake from above. The Post Knott walk is only an hour long with pretty moderate terrain (even I can do this one and that says something) and the views from the very top at Brant Fell are worth every bit of effort. This walk is completely doable even for beginners, and you don't necessarily need to be wearing specific hiking shoes as the whole thing is via paths and fields- we did it in Timberlands!

If you're more experienced when it comes to country walks, or just fancy something a little longer, then you could try School Knott instead. This walk takes around 4 hours and is said to have some of the most beautiful views in the area. A good friend of mine recommended this to me and after doing some research, it seems lots of people agree with her!

For lunch there's a few options I can recommend depending on the weather and how hungry your walk has made you. Our favourite thing we've done for lunch in Bowness is actually just to grab some picnic food from Booths at Windermere station, and sit by the lake at The Glebe. We did this on our first ever trip to the lakes as it was a glorious August day- we even got a bottle of prosecco and some paper cups! But as much as I think everyone should do this option, the northern weather will more than likely cause you some problems! If indoors is what you need, try Urban Food House for a classic brunch/ lunch menu, or if you need something a little heavier try Rastelli's Pizzeria; both the pizza and pasta served here is to die for.

The afternoon is chill out and relax time, starting with renting a boat on the lake with Windermere Lake Cruises. They have a huge fleet of self drive motorboats or classic rowing boats available for hire from £16 per hour between 2 people. The boats are easy to drive, no licence needed, and the water is lovely and calm throughout the whole lake- it's the perfect afternoon activity. If this doesn't suit you, they also offer a variety of lake cruises which will take you over to places like Ambleside, or you can do round-trip lake cruises to see the sights from the water.

Start your evening off with drinks across some of Bowness' best bars. We absolutely love Boaters Bar for a relaxed, tropical vibe; the drinks here are reasonably priced including local drinks such as The Lake Vodka, and they have piles of board games for you to enjoy during your visit. While you're there you could also nip into The Ship Inn next door for more of a 'local pub' kind of atmosphere and a fab selection of beers and wines.

For dinner you have to head over to The Magic Roundabout- the best restaurant in the area in my opinion! The menu here is honestly huge (which if I'm being honest usually puts me off- do a small menu and do it well) but every single thing on the menu is incredible, and they have a great range of vegan and vegetarian options rather than one just stuck in for good measure. The quirky pub layout is so warm and welcoming that you could sit inside all night, and the staff are very friendly and attentive. If you're visiting at peak time make sure you book your table as the place is in very high demand, and rightly so! PS- Try the Magic Gnocchi and thank me later.

If you're up for a late night, try heading back to Bodega for late night happy hour, or over to Baha which is the main bar in town. Here they have karaoke booths, live music and a dance floor so it's perfect if you fancy a spontaneous night out, but be warned it gets very busy, and don't rock up in your walking gear like we did as it's possibly the only bar in town that can be really quite dressy.

Day 2

Breakfast this morning might be rough, depending on how long you stayed out, so head over to Mio Mondo for a great fry up. This lovely place is small but mighty and again is dog friendly which is always a plus. They also serve waffles, simple breakfasts and toasties if a fry up isn't your thing, and the staff are really friendly and nice too!

Daytime options today are all about relaxing and enjoying what the town has to offer. If you have children, try visiting The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction before heading for some famous Windermere Ice Cream on The Promenade. You could spend the day strolling through the various boutique stores along the high street, or maybe get the ferry to Ambleside. If you want one last Lake District adventure before you leave, jump on the Far Sawrey Ferry from Bowness Nab port (around 5 minutes extra walk along the road to The Ship Inn/ Boaters Bar) and head over to the other side of the lake to visit Claife Viewing Station. The whole journey will take you around half an hour and is a great way to see the town from a different perspective. If you still have time to spare, why not do the Ash Landing and Claife Heights walk which starts from the viewing station and takes around 4 hours. It's one of the top rated walks in the area and will take you over the hills along the shore of the lake, all the way up to Wray Castle and then back to where you started.

Sunday dinner is a must have when you're in a small English town, and for this I have to recommend The Albert: a gorgeous little pub in the centre of town with an incredible 'pub grub' style menu- perfect after a long weekend of walking. The roasts here are the top rated in the area, as is their standard menu, and they have a beautiful heated beer garden out back that you can enjoy whatever the weather.

Finish your weekend with the walk back up to Windermere and a quick trip to The Crafty Baa. This quirky little bar is situated just before the station and has over 100 Craft Ales on offer as well as any beers, ciders and spirits you could want. The real star of the show here though is the crazy decor both inside and out, a truly one of a kind place that is the perfect way to end your trip.

And there you have it, the perfect weekend in Bowness. I've done different variations of this itinerary multiple times now and can promise you it never fails. If you're looking for some nice, well managed, and reasonably priced places to stay in the area make sure you check out Elim House or Bowness Guest House, both of which are incredibly good value and in the best location you could ask for.

Are you thinking about heading over to the Lake District any time soon? Let me know, and make sure you follow me on Instagram to follow my next adventure there in real time.

Meg x