Suggested Itinerary for the Red Cruise
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, in between. Arrive by train at Windermere station and walk down to Bowness, take the bus, or park your car in one of many council pay-and-display car parks nearby, or if you’re here early, use the road’s on-street parking spaces.
So, arrived, but not sure how to make the most of your day? Let us be your guide…
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.
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.
Not only is there a huge play area for children, there’s also additional ‘paid-for’ attractions on-site including ‘Brave the Cave’, ‘Treetop Nets’ and ‘Treetop Trek’ – which includes a thrilling triple zipwire, where Windermere Lake Cruises e-ticket holders can enjoy the thrills for 10% off the usual price (when booked in advance).
Allow 2-3 hours for each of those attractions. Visitors can also hire Kayaks on-site, enjoy the gardens, lay back and bask in the sunshine - or even go for a dip in the lake!
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?
With around three hours to kill 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.
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.
If you’d rather stay by the water for the afternoon, there are plenty of self-drive power boats and rowing boats are available to hire at the Waterhead pier.
There’s plenty of places to eat in Ambleside village and around our pier, so you’ll be spoilt for choice with a range of snacks, pub meals and fish and chip shops. If you rather fancy a freebie to wash down your day of fun, show your Windermere Lake Cruises e-ticket to the team at Waterhead Boutique Hotel & Dining and claim your complimentary tipple of choice when ordering a Waterhead Classic main course or pizza from the all-day menu.
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 is overflowing with fine pubs serving up crisp beers and wines, where you can gather around a cosy table and 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?