Back in April I spent a week in Bowness-on-Windermere (there’s another Bowness in England – in the same county, in fact), something I was thrilled about because Bowness really does have a special place in my heart. When I was little my family used to go there all the time, multiple times a year. We’ve been on the odd visit since then, but never a proper holiday. I was happy to go back there.
Bowness-on-Windermere is a town in the Lake District that is sat, unsurprisingly, on the shore of Windermere, the largest lake in England. Although for some reason all the signs boasted it as being the largest lake in the Lake District. It’s long and narrow in shape; apparently the correct term is a ‘ribbon lake’. I always like looking at maps of the Lake District because it is just so much bigger than the other lakes, and… well, for some reason that gives me slight amusement. A lot of things give me slight amusement, I’m not a difficult person to entertain.
Anyway, Bowness is a very popular tourist town. It’s got the perfect location – and not just being on the lake, the countryside around it is gorgeous, as it is the Lake District. And there’s plenty of shops. I was surprised by how many of the ones I remembered were still there and basically the same, there were only really a couple of my old favourites that were gone. So that was very nostalgic for me.
Bowness also has a lot of abnormally friendly swans. I see swans on the canal near where I live a lot and I’ve always wondered why it took me so long to work out swans are terrifying. I have memories of being right up close to them as a child and basically treating them like ducks, and those memories have confused me somewhat. Now I know the answer; they were Windermere swans. I wouldn’t advise trying to pet them or anything, but they are a thousand times nicer than your average swan. They just sit on the shore or the path, watching people with polite curiosity. They don’t move when someone goes near; you go around them. The best thing is watching people take pictures with them; they go and stand next to one of the swans, and they just keep glancing nervously at it, not daring to get too close.
So yeah, if you want to get close to swans without getting attacked, Bowness would be a good choice.
Anyway, what did I do while I was there?
Well, for one thing, climbed Brant Fell, a small hill just behind Bowness. And it is a small hill, but well worth a climb. It’s an interesting hill. There was something built on the top at some point, and you can still see a few remnants – the most obvious being a pair of gateposts. But you can also see the shape of it and bits of metal sticking out of the rock. I’ve looked up what the building was and I’m getting that it was a Victorian viewing station. It makes sense they’d build such a thing there, you do get very nice views. But it’s gone now, other than the aforementioned remnants.
There’s some big rocks up there too. Not massive, buts fun to scramble up and down. As I say, it’s interesting up there; it’s got its own look to it.
There are other viewpoints above Bowness too. One is called Post Knott. I can’t find names for the others I went to, but they do all provide lovely views, as indeed a viewpoint ought to. And there’s nice little walks up to them too. Bowness is just a lovely town in a lovely area.
We visited the Aquarium of the Lakes, again. Wasn’t long since our last visit, but it is always worth a look. We got the boat across to it.
There’s three steamers working on Windermere; the Swan, the Teal and the Tern. There’s a lot of smaller passenger boats too, but I think I would have been disappointed if I’d gone on a boat trip on one of them instead of a steamer. Mostly because of nostalgia, it was always the steamers we got on when I was little, so those are the ones I associate with Windermere.
The Swan and the Teal are pretty much identical. I can say with certainty that they’re not completely identical because when we went to get the boat across to the aquarium (the Teal) they were both in, side by side, and I got a picture. There’s a few small differences, but they are the same. We got the Swan back to Bowness, as I’m sure you’re dying to know. The Tern is different. It’s the oldest of the three – well, I’m sure there’s not much left of the original boats. The Tern was originally built in 1891, the Teal in 1936 and the Swan in 1938. One thing I hadn’t been aware of until I read it on a sign this visit was that there was a fourth steamer, the Swift, which was built in 1900 and dismantled in 1999. I would have been six then, so I don’t know if I’d have ever seen it in service, but the three surviving boats are so tied together in my mind that it’s weird to think there was a fourth one until so recently. I mean, as I’m looking this up (yes, I probably should be researching stuff like this before I write the blog post, not as I’m doing it) I’m stumbling across sources from the late nineties referring to the four steamers, and then some about how they’re going to dismantle one of them.
That’s what’s weird about the internet. You can go looking for information on a past event and find a source from when it was a current event.
Anyway, it was nice to be going on the steamers again. I have been on them in the past few years, but when you’re staying in Bowness that’s one of the ways you get about; if you want to visit Lakeside or Ambleside or anywhere else on the lake. It’s part of the experience, it would be weird to stay on the edge of Windermere and not go on a boat.
By the way, there’s a town called Windermere too, adjoining Bowness. I think they did that thing where they grew towards eachother until they were kind of the same place but still different places. They are distinct. I never went into Windermere while I was staying in Bowness. I just thought I’d mention the existence of a town called Windermere on the edge of Windermere – although not actually on the edge like Bowness is, a little away. Apparently it’s named thus because that was the name of the station that was there when they built the railway in the 19th century. It seems a slightly confusing thing to do. Of course, I could call the lake Lake Windermere, as has become perfectly acceptable to, but I refuse to because ‘mere’ means ‘lake’, and for some reason that matters to me while writing this, despite the fact that I am perfectly happy to use redundant titles on other occasions.
Sorry, that was a totally pointless aside, wasn’t it?
Anyway, getting away from Bowness, we climbed Redscrees while we were up there, so named because on one side the screes are kind of red. One of the more self explanatory mountain names.
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned climbing any mountains on this blog, because circumstances have turned it into a much rarer thing than it once was for my family, but I wanted to clarify that I have climbed quite a lot of mountains because otherwise it would be slightly strange for me to say I’ve always had a liking for steeper ones. Which I have, I like being able to climb for like ten minutes, then look back and see the starting point way below you. And when you get hills and mountains which have really gradual inclines, they can just seem to go on forever sometimes, and it can feel like you’re not really getting anywhere, even though logically you know you must be closer to the summit than you were before.
Red Screes though, is one of those ones where you can see how much higher you’re getting. Well, it is by the route we’ve always gone anyway, I don’t know what the others are like. We’ve always parked near the Kirkstone Pass Inn and from there it is basically just straight up. It’s not, for the most part, a hard climb, I would say. There are bits which require scrambling, and honestly do not resemble a path at all. In fact, it’s more like the path just stops and then starts again beyond the sheet of rock.
Red Screes is 776 metres/2546 feet, but you’re quite high to begin with. The Kirkstone Pass Inn is the highest in Cumbria, and the third highest in England, at 1500 feet. It’s good to climb from there because you can go straight for food once you get down.
We stayed at the top of the mountain for quite some time. It’s nice up there. Brilliant views, and there’s a little tarn. So if it’s a decent day it’s a nice place to just hang around for a while. Then we went down and had lunch at the Inn.
And I think that’s it. That was what I did when we were staying in Bowness. Thank you for looking at my blog.