Lake Windermere, England, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - England - England's Northwest -

Also known as:  Windermere, The Lake District

Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England, covering more than 3,600 acres (1,476 hectares) in northwest England’s famous Lake District. Called simply Windermere by many, it has enjoyed a wide popularity among travelers for more than 160 years. In 1847, the Kendal and Windermere Railway provided widespread access to the area with its new branch line that runs near the eastern shore of the lake. Since then, it has become well-known as a relaxing and beautiful place to take a holiday. It’s accessible via railroad, car and bus line, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Situated within the Lake District National Park, most of Windermere is owned by the National Trust, and most lake planning is decided by the Lake District National Park Authority. The lake’s name is derived from “Vinandr,” a Norse name, and “mere,” Old English for lake. Therefore, “Vinandr’s Lake” evolved over time to “Winander Mere” and “Winandermere.” Finally, during the 19th century, it became Windermere. Windermere and its surrounds are known for luring artists and writers to idyllic waters and picturesque scenery. Samuel Coleridge, William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter are just a few of the celebrated writers who have spent time on Windermere and written about the area.

A variety of lake cruises are available, from one-hour jaunts to all-day excursions. This ribbon lake is perfect for cruising, with extensive shoreline and 18 islands dotting the peaceful waters. Belle Isle is the largest, a 40-acre (16.2-hectare) privately owned island that has been inhabited since the first home, a circular design called Belle Isle House, was built there in 1774. Windermere receives its inflow from Cunsey Beck, Trout Beck, Brathay and Rothay; it empties into River Leven. The lake is 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) long with a maximum depth of 210 feet (64 meters) and an average depth of 70 feet (21.3 meters). Its lake bed is well below sea level.

The towns surrounding Windermere are filled with a sense of history: From the lime-washed white cottages and blue and green slate roofs patterned in diminishing courses, to the many dry stone walls and freestanding lime kilns that hearken back to previous eras, it’s a lovely place for an excursion. It’s also well suited for walking tours, with much of the path being level and easy to stroll. A popular 45-mile (72.4 kilometers) trail is the Windermere Way, a four-part route that takes travelers completely around the lake. This trail runs along the lake in some areas and through wooded areas in others, offering high-elevation vistas and out-of-the-way scenic spots. Travelers can catch a ferry along the route if time runs short. However, in winter and in poor weather ferry service hours are truncated, so it’s best to learn schedules before embarking on this trek.

The Lake District National Park is the largest in England, covering about 885 square miles (2292 square kilometers), more than half of which is available for public use. With open gardens, horse riding, hot-air ballooning, walking, biking or motor travel, this park has something for everyone. It also features several wheelchair-friendly and limited-mobility-accessible paths to allow everyone to enjoy the rural beauty. Dubbed Miles Without Stiles, this system of walkways is perfect for travelers who prefer to sight-see using scooters or wheelchairs, as well as those pushing strollers. The weather in Cumbria County is unpredictable, so travelers are urged to dress in layers regardless of the season. Layers are important for walks from the warmer valleys to the chilly hilltops and back again. A waterproof jacket is an absolute necessity, as rain is frequent due to the area’s proximity to the coast.

The village of Windermere is not on the coast but located one mile (2.2 kilometers) uphill from the lake. At Windermere, shops, restaurants and other attractions can be found. Because they share the name, it’s often the town most closely associated with the lake. However, towns located on the lake are Lakeside (at the lake’s foot) and Ambleside (at the northern end). Waterhead is also on the north, Newby Bridge to the south, and Bowness-on-Windermere to the east. The Windermere Ferry route crosses the lake every 20 minutes most days of the year.

Family attractions in the area include the Lakes Aquarium, featuring displays from around the world, and the World of Beatrix Potter, a tribute to the renowned children’s author whose characters seem to come to life in this quaint and magical attraction. The Windermere Steamboat Museum has an impressive collection of exhibits, with some display items dating to the late 1890s.

Windermere has abundant opportunities for those holiday travelers who enjoy fishing. The annual Cumbria Fishing Festival takes place in May, boasting a week of scheduled activities for experienced anglers, those new to the hobby and everyone in between. Although the festival is countywide, Windermere is a star in the show, with its rich population of pike, brown trout, arctic char, perch, roach, and eels. Sea trout and salmon also make occasional appearances in their travels to spawn. Those planning to fish need a license, which can be obtained from local information centers. When planning ahead, vacationers can visit the Environmental Agency website, which also issues rod licenses online. Because there are concerns about the accidental introduction of non-native species, no live bait is allowed–but that doesn’t stop the fish from biting. The Anglers Association controls fishing in the area, its rules in place to keep the area filled with wildlife and preserve the ecosystem while allowing locals and visitors to enjoy a great deal of freedom in their pursuits. Outdoor activities in the area focus mostly on enjoying the beautiful surroundings and lake views, but power boating and water skiing are also popular. Yachts, ferries and leisure watercraft are common sights on Windermere during the warmer months.

Windermere is considered the gate to the Lake District, and as such it sees its share of travelers. Lucky for them, there are many opportunities to stay in vacation rentals. From studio rentals to maisonettes, the real estate variety is first class. Small apartments, self-catering holiday cottages, and large pine lodges, many of which feature lake views, delight travelers who find essential modern amenities blended with historic buildings and unique touches that make for an unforgettable vacation.

Things to do at Lake Windermere

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Water Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Windermere

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Lake Windermere Photo Gallery

Lake Windermere Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 3,648 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 128 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 124 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 130 feet

Average Depth: 70 feet

Maximum Depth: 210 feet

Water Volume: 251,321 acre-feet

Lake Area-Population: 8,300

Drainage Area: 89 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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