A flock of swans at Bowness Beach

Beat the crowds and leave time for your journey

Published: 6th August 2022

On sunny days and Bank Holidays, the roads around Lake Windermere can get very busy. Some of our customers are finding it difficult to get here on time and find a place to park.

Here are our top tips for avoiding the crowds.

Our top tips:

  1. Leave extra time to get to Bowness or Ambleside
  2. Book an earlier sailing
  3. Park and ride (glide) into Bowness

A steamer departing Bowness pier

1. Leave extra time for getting to Bowness and Ambleside

If you are booked on a boat from Bowness or Ambleside, please leave extra time for driving to us and finding a car park. We are extremely busy during school holidays and parking can be at a premium.

We don’t have our own car park at Bowness and you will need to find a space in the council pay-and display car parks nearby. If you are staying in a hotel or accommodation nearby, then leave some time to walk to our piers.

Parking in Bowness

There are over 500 council pay-and-display spaces within 10 minutes of our Bowness Pier and Bowness Dock/Bowness Beach hire points. To help with the parking situation, we are now allowing cars to park on the Bowness Coach Park too.

The car parks are likely to get busy so please leave plenty of time to find a space.

🗺️ Launch Bowness Car Parking Map

A map of car parks around Bowness Pier

📌 Launch interactive map


🚶 See other car parks that are slightly further away

Parking in Ambleside (Waterhead)

Ambleside (Waterhead) Pier is on the northern tip of Lake Windermere. Postcode: LA22 0EY .
Our customers' car park has 21 spaces and costs £5.00 to park all day, it normally fills up by 10:30am. In addition, there are 200 spaces in a public pay and display car park close to the pier.

The car parks are likely to get busy so please leave plenty of time to find a space.


Getting here by public transport

There is more information on how to get here by public transport here.

An earlier launch service leaving Bowness

2. Book an earlier sailing

The Bowness and Ambleside areas get very busy on sunny days and our afternoon cruises sometimes get full.

Our peak times are from 12 noon to 4pm. Our busiest days are Saturdays and Sundays. Our quietest days are Fridays.

Try booking one of our cruises from 9am to 11am or after 4pm to have a quieter cruise and visit.

Busy times displayed on a graph

3. Park and ride (glide) into Bowness

The bustling Lake District village of Bowness-on-Windermere is our busiest pier and is one of the most popular places to visit in The Lake District. You can arrive near the centre of the village by boat and many customers choose to leave the car at Lakeside Pier or Ambleside (Waterhead) to travel to the many shops, cafes, pubs, walks and attractions by boat then get a later boat back.

The road between Bowness and Ambleside also gets very congested.

  • Travelling from the south : Park up at Lakeside Pier (500 spaces) and travel into Bowness by boat on the Yellow Cruise.
  • Travelling from the south: Park up at Haverthwaite Train Station and take the train/boat to arrive in Bowness on the Yellow Cruise & Steam Train.
  • Travelling from the north: Park up in Ambleside (Waterhead) and travel into Bowness by boat on the Red Cruise.

A man putting the sign up for Lakeside

We hope you find this information useful when visiting us.

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