Suggested Itinerary for the Red Cruise

Suggested Itinerary for the Red Cruise

Categories: Suggested Itineraries

Our famous Red Cruise route offers passengers the best views of the South Lakeland fells, linking the famous towns of Bowness and walkers’ favourite, Ambleside, with an optional stop-off at Windermere Jetty Museum and Brockhole – The Lake District Visitors’ Centre.

Getting Here:

  • 🚉 By Train: Arrive at Windermere Station, then either walk to Bowness or take the bus
  • 🚙 By Car: Plenty of council pay-and-display car parks are available nearby

So, arrived, but not sure how to make the most of your day? Let us be your guide…

Bowness Bay


Grab your red cruise ticket from one of our friendly team at the ticket offices on Bowness Pier and climb onboard the 10.30am launch service to pay a visit to Brockhole (If you’d rather go straight to Ambleside, catch the earlier boat – one of our larger ‘steamers’, from Bowness at 10.10am). Enjoy beautiful views as the South Lakeland fells move ever-closer during this 25 minute journey before pulling in to Brockhole pier at 10.55am (or a 30 minute journey, if sailing directly to Ambleside).

However you choose to cruise, each journey includes a fascinating commentary on the history, attractions and points of interest surrounding Windermere as you make your way along the northern half of England’s longest lake. This cruise route also gives you the chance to stop off at Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, at selected times.

Leaving Bowness on the Red Cruise


Upon arrival at Brockhole – which is operated by the Lake District National Park, our passengers can enjoy large green open spaces and easy access to the water from the shore free of charge.

Explore large open spaces, a huge play area for children, and paid attractions like Brave the Cave and Zip World with a thrilling triple zipwire. Kayak rentals, garden strolls, and lakeside relaxation are also available. Allow 2-3 hours for each of those attractions.

Activities at Brockhole


Make your way back to Brockhole pier and catch the 2.25pm service up to Ambleside, which will arrive at the town’s Waterhead pier just 15 minutes later. Described by many as ‘the true Lake District’, Ambleside is a walker’s paradise - so don’t forget to pick up a walks leaflet from the pier’s friendly team.

Windermere Lake Cruises’ Waterhead Pier is less than a mile from the town centre, with plenty awaiting those who take the stroll from the lake’s northern tip. Alternatively, why not take the electric bus shuttle service?

Red cruise

With around three hours to enjoy before the last boat service of the day, there’s something to suit every taste in Ambleside.

For culture-vultures, why not pay a visit to the Armitt Museum? This art gallery and reference library gives visitors the opportunity to delve deep into the history of life and arts of the Lakes. An exhibition of the life of Kurt Schwitters can be found there – and of course, there’s more to learn about Beatrix Potter. There’s also information on the nearby remains of Galava - a Roman site, which is free to explore. Meanwhile, The Old Courthouse Gallery showcases the best arts and crafts in the Lakes - and Britain as a whole.

Movie-buffs can head to Zeffirellis, an independent cinema which offers viewings of films made by new and emerging talents, while Fellinis shows art-house and independent films, as well as live performances.

Things to do in Ambleside

For those who’d rather spend time in the great outdoors, why not pay a visit to Rydal Mount and Gardens? Best known as William Wordsworth's home for nearly 40 years, this is the birthplace of many of his poems – as well as being the house that inspired tweaks and revisions to his world-famous 'Daffodils'. It’s a 10 minute drive or bus journey away from Ambleside village centre.

In the heart of the village, the popular Platt's Recreation Area boasts 18 and 9-hole mini golf courses, putting green and crazy golf, as well as tennis courts, a bowling green and infant play area. Or head to Rothay park, a fantastic play area with plenty of seating and picnic benches.

If you’d rather stay by the water for the afternoon, there are plenty ofself-drive power boats and rowing boats are available to hire at the Waterhead pier.

Gardens and parks in Ambleside

Ambleside village and its surroundings offer a delightful variety of dining options, ensuring there's something to satisfy every palate. Whether you're craving a quick snack, a hearty pub meal, or the classic fish and chips, you'll be spoilt for choice.

For a fine dining experience, consider visiting The Old Stamphouse, a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for its exquisite cuisine. If you're looking for a family-friendly option, Dodds Restaurant offers a welcoming atmosphere and delicious meals that everyone will enjoy. For those in search of a lively pub feast, Ambleside Tap Yard is a local favorite, known for its fun atmosphere and excellent food.

The Old Stamp House


If you opted to stay in the town centre for the afternoon, you’ll soon need to begin to make your way back to Waterhead pier from Ambleside, as the last boat of the day departs at 5.45pm and we’d hate for you to miss it!

Back in Bowness at around 6.15pm, there are plenty of opportunities for a pleasant evening stroll, thanks to the large open green space at The Glebe, and a waterside walk at Cockshott Point just a stone’s throw from the main pier – offering restful waterside areas for an evening picnic, games and paddling.

No picnic? No problem. Bowness boasts a plethora of fine pubs serving up crisp beers and wines, perfect for gathering around a cosy table to plan your next day out with Windermere Lake Cruises. If you're heading back up to Windermere Railway Station, why not pop into The Lamplighter for another drink, snack, or meal? This welcoming spot is ideal for relaxing and refueling before continuing your journey.

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