Dive into Windermere on your caravan holiday in the Lake District and discover what this lakeside town has to offer with Practical Caravan's travel guide

Lake Windermere, and its surrounding towns and villages in the stunning Lake District, have much to offer those planning to tour here. Although a popular destination for caravan holidays, it’s easy to head off the beaten track and find somewhere a little less crowded to relax, too.

Although close to Lake Windermere – which is Britain’s largest lake – you’ll need to travel half a mile to get to the town of Windermere. It lies alongside Bowness-on-Windermere; both have their own centres, and there’s plenty to attract the holidaymakers to this part of The Lake District.

Lake Windermere itself is a great place to spend some time, and its size – it’s more than 11 miles long – means that you’ll be able to escape the hordes of tourists who descend here during the summer. There’s only one town on the shore – Bowness-on-Windermere – but plenty to discover along the lake of the length.

To get the best view you’ll need to take to the water, and Go Lakes mentions that there are plenty of services operating that will help you do just that. You can take a boat from Lakeside railway station at the south end of the lake to Waterhead Bay (close to Ambleside) in the north, which allows you to leave your vehicle behind and explore the area at your leisure.

You can also combine a trip on the water with a ride on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Heritage Railway – check timetables before you make the trip, as some services are timed to allow you to easily make your connection onto the boat. It’s also possible to hire your own craft from companies that operate on the lake.

If you’d prefer to get in the water – or if you’d rather watch those who have done so – visit during June, when the Great North Swim attracts 10,000 participants. Or pay a trip to the Lakes Aquarium. It's on the west coast of Lake Windermere and is great for a day out with the kids.

There are a great many campsites in Windermere – in fact, you will be spoilt for choice when looking for caravan parks and campsites near Windermere. There's even a Camping and Caravanning Club site (open to non-members). Most parks in the area are larger, full-facility sites, however a couple (such as that operated by the National Trust) are for tents only. But if you're looking for campsites in the Lake District, you will have plenty to choose from.

Top five things to do in Windermere

  1. One of the best places to visit in the area is The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere. It focuses on the books of the local author, but there is so much here to entertain you no matter what your age. Children will love being transported into the worlds of Beatrix Potter's much loved characters with 3D exhibitions, while the gardens will be appreciated by adults. And you could do a lot worse than ending up in the tasty and award winning tea room.

  2. With views over Lake Windermere, the arts and craft house Blackwell is an idyllic destination on your caravan holiday. View the latest collections and wander around the Thomas Mawson designed garden. 

  3. Visitors to this beautiful part of the country will surely want to take in its stunning natural surroundings. And this is open to everyone, as 39 routes have been established within the Lake District National Park that can be used by people with limited mobility, including those in wheelchairs, with pushchairs or with young children.

  4. Tarn Hows is an iconic Lake District beauty spot that's only 15 or 20 minutes by car from Windermere. With beautiful woodland, fells and water, it is well worth the trip.

  5. Why not get off the beaten track in a 4x4 when on a caravan holiday in and around Windermere? Drive off-road in the Lake District with Kankku and explore the wilds from a new perspective.

When to visit Windermere

Each season has its own attractions, the natural beauty of Lake Windermere meaning it's a wonderful destination all year round. As it's such a popular place, it can get busy in the school holidays, but with so much open space you can 'get away from it all' any time of the year.

Many people will choose to go walking, cycling, horse riding, bird spotting or to enjoy watersports while pitched at one of the campsites near Windermere, but venture a little further afield and there are plenty of other things to do, too. 

The Kendal Calling festival comes to Kendal in August, the same month that music of a different kind comes to the area in the form of the Lake District Summer Music festival.

Also in August, you can head to nearby Keswick for the Keswick Agricultural Show. And in September, it is time for the Kendal Torchlight Carnival.

However, if you want something rather more challenging, you won't be short of options. From the Grizedale Duathlon in March and the Lakeland Loop Cycle Sportive in April, to the Brathay Windermere Marathon in May and September's Buttermere Triathlon, you can use your caravan park near Windermere as the base for a whole host of demanding physical challenges – not forgetting the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere in June.

How to get to Windermere

The town of Windermere sits on the A591, the road which links Keswick to the north of Windermere to Kendal, to the south east of the lake. The nearest motorway is the M6 (the A74M from Scotland) which will be how many people will reach Windermere, junctions 36 and 37 serving Kendal – it makes getting to the region both quick and easy.

The roads do become congested, however, especially in the peak holiday season, the A592 which runs along the edge of Lake Windermere a prime candidate. And minor roads can be narrow and twisting, lined with stone walls and lacking in passing places, which means they are not always great for towing caravans. Make sure you check with the campsite you are staying at to establish which are the best roads to use to access the caravan park, especially when you are towing.

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