Infobox lake
lake_name = Windermere
image_lake = Lake windermere in 2005.jpg
caption_lake = from the north
image_bathymetry =
caption_bathymetry =
location = Lake District National Park
coords = coord|54|21|30|N|2|56|10|W|region:GB_type:waterbody|display=inline,title
type = Ribbon lake
inflow = Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck
outflow = River Leven
catchment =
basin_countries = United Kingdom
length = convert|17|km|abbr=on
width = convert|2|km|abbr=on
area = convert|14.7|km2|abbr=on
depth =
max-depth = convert|220|ft|abbr=on
volume =
residence_time =
shore =
elevation = convert|130|ft|abbr=on
islands = 18 (Belle Isle, "see list")
cities =

Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. It has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since 1847, when the Kendal and Windermere Railway built a branch line to it. It is in the county of Cumbria and entirely within the Lake District National Park.

The word "Windermere" translates as "Vinandr's lake", from the Old Norse name Vinandr and Old English |title=A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain|date=1726 "I must not forget Winander Mere, which makes the utmost northern bounds of this shire..."]

Its official name is Windermere, not Lake Windermere. (The only body of water in the National Park with "Lake" in its name is Bassenthwaite Lake.)


Windermere is convert|10.5|mi long stretching from Newby Bridge To Ambleside and varies from a quarter of a mile (400m) to one mile (1.6 km) wide at Millerground. The lake covers an area of convert|14.7|km2. It reaches a depth of about convert|220|ft near its northern end and has an elevation above sea level of convert|130|ft. The lake is drained from its southernmost point by the River Leven. It is replenished by the rivers Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck and several other lesser streams.

There are two towns on the lake, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere. The town of Windermere, confusingly, does not directly touch the lake. Known as Birthwaite prior to the arrival of the railway, it is about a fifteen-minute walk from the lakefront, and has now grown together with Bowness. Windermere railway station is a hub for train and bus connections to the surrounding areas, Manchester, Manchester Airport, and the West Coast Main Line.The lake was originally known as Winandermere but the railway company thought this too long and called the station Windermere, which has since attached itself to both the town and the lake.Fact|date=October 2007

The lake is largely surrounded by foothills of the Lake District which provide pleasant low-level walks; to the north and north-east are the higher fells of central Lakeland.

Windermere is one of a very few lakes in Britain which has a perceptible diurnal tide.Fact|date=April 2008

Windermere is a ribbon lake, which are long, narrow and finger-like. Ribbon lakes were formed thousands of years ago during the ice age through glaciation: as the glacier bulldozed through a valley (glacial trough), it met bands of harder and softer rock. Erosion (mainly through abrasion: the process of rocks simply being scraped across the bedrock) was greater at the soft rock than the hard rock and so a dip was created. When the glacier melted the lake filled with the meltwater, which was held in by moraine (rock material) deposited by the glacier. A dam can also be created by the bands of harder rock either side of the softer rock. There is usually a river at both ends of a ribbon lake.


The lake contains 18 islands.cite web|url=|title=Windermere islands|publisher=Lake District National Park] By far the largest is the privately owned Belle Isle (convert|40|acre) lying opposite Bowness and around a kilometre in length.

The other islands are considerably smaller. The island of Lady Holme is named after the church that formerly stood there. The remaining islands are Bee Holme, Blake Holme, Crow Holme, Fir Holme, Grass Holme, Lilies of the Valley (East, and West), Ling Holme, Hawes Holme, Hen Holme, Maiden Holme, Ramp Holme, Rough Holme, Snake Holme, Thompson Holme, Silver Holme.

Natural history

The lake has a very high percentage of its drainage area under cultivation (29.4%), and a relatively low percentage of lake bed above convert|9|m in depth which is rocky (28%). This makes Windermere a rich habitat. The main fish in the lake are trout, char, pike, and perch.

The north to south alignment of the lake, combined with its position between Morecambe Bay and the central fells, means that it forms what is essentially a migration highway. During winter months geese flying this route are a common sight.

The Freshwater Biological Association was established on the shore of Windermere in 1929 and much of the early work on lake ecology, freshwater biology and limnology was conducted here.

Local government

Before 1974 Windermere lay wholly within the county of Westmorland; however, the county boundary between Lancashire and Westmorland ran down the western shore of the lake and also along about three miles (5 km) of the southern section of the eastern shore. Drivers crossing the lake on the Windermere Ferry thus travel from the historic county of Westmorland to that of Lancashire if they cross the lake in a westerly direction.

Since local government re-organisation in 1974, Windermere and its shores have been entirely within the non-metropolitan county of Cumbria and the district of South Lakeland. Most planning matters concerned with the lake are, however, the responsibility of the Lake District National Park Authority.


Boat services

The Windermere Ferry, a vehicle carrying cable ferry, runs across the lake from Ferry Nab on the eastern side of the lake to Far Sawrey on the western side of the lake. This service forms part of the B5285.

There are also passenger services that serve the length of the lake. These date back to the railway era, providing connection at Lakeside with a former Furness Railway branch, and were at one time operated by British Rail, the former state-owned rail operator. Since privatised, three of the old railway boats are operated by Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd, along with a fleet of smaller and more modern launches. Although often described as "steamers", the former railway boats are all in fact motor vessels, and are the MV "Tern" of 1891, the MV "Teal" of 1936, and the MV "Swan" of 1938.cite web | url = | title = Vessels | publisher = Windermere Lake Cruises Ltd | accessmonthday = May 11 | accessyear = 2007]

Boat clubs

There are two large boating clubs based around the lake; the Royal Windermere Yacht Club, and the Windermere Cruising Association. The Royal Windermere Yacht club maintain a set of turning marks on the lake, which the Windermere Cruising Association also use. Most of the competitive sailing on the lake is coordinated by the Windermere Cruising Association, this includes the popular Winter Series which is not hindered by large waves caused by gales, that often causes racing on the sea to be cancelled.

Speed records

On Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave broke the world water speed record on Windermere in his boat, Miss England II at an average speed of convert|158.94|km/h|mph|2. On the third run over the course, off Belle Grange, the boat capsized. Segrave's mechanic, Victor Helliwell drowned, but Segrave was rescued by support boats. He died a short time later of his injuries. Segrave was one of the few people in history who have held the world land speed record and water speed record simultaneously.

Racer Norman Buckley set several world water speed records on Windermere in the 1950s.

Speed limits

For many years, power-boating and water-skiing have been popular activities on the lake. In March 2000, however, the Lake District National Park Authority controversially introduced a byelaw setting a convert|10|kn|mph km/hspeed limit for all powered craft on the lake, in addition to three existing convert|6|mph|kn|sing=on [ [ Lake District National Park Authority - Windermere safety and speed limits ] ] speed limits for all craft on the upper, lower, and middle sections of the lake. While the byelaw technically came into force in 2000, there was a five year transition period and the new speed limits were only enforced from 29 March 2005. Despite the speed limits people continue to use power-boats on the lake, both legally and illegally.

Many organisations support the move, primarily on the grounds of restoring the tranquil nature of the lake and making it safer and more accessible for all users. Opponents, particularly those interested in the affected sports, are concerned by the lack of other suitable inland waters to which to move these activities, and the effect on many local businesses that reduced visitor numbers would have.

Lake monster

Like many bodies of water around the world, Windermere is reputed to contain one or more large, unusual fish or animals (see Eachy). The Centre for Fortean Zoology claims there have been many sightings of a giant eel-like creature in the lake stretching back to the 1950s. The monster first made news in 2006 after being spotted by university lecturer Steve Burnip and his wife Eileen, however it was a few months later after a local photographer, Linden Adams when the media really caught attention of the incidents at the lake, including the local Westmorland Gazette. [] .

Popular culture

The children's book series Swallows and Amazons is based loosely on life before World War II around a fictional lake derived from a combination of Windermere and Coniston Water.

In the horror novel "The Pike" (1982) by Cliff Twemlow a convert|12|ft|m|sing=on long pike in Windermere goes on a killing spree, and the consequence is a boom in the Lake's tourist trade. Two attempts have been made to film the novel.

The area is also featured as an arena in the popular Sony PlayStation videogame Tekken.

The Great North Swim

On Saturday 13th September 2008, Lake Windermere hosted The Great North Swim which is a one mile open water swim involving 2,200 swimmers of all ages and abilities. [ [ Great North Swim] ]


External links

* [ Photographs of Windermere]
* [ Windermere Cruising Association]
* [ Royal Windermere Yacht Club]
* [ Windermere Steamboat Project]
* [ The Windermere Way - a walking route around the lake.]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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