Cumbria’s largest tourist attraction urges visitors to return to the Lakes

Published: 7th January 2016

Following the aftermath of Storm Desmond, Windermere Lake Cruises says it is determined to drum home the message that services are up and running, and ready to welcome visitors back on board.

The company is Cumbria’s largest tourist attraction with 1.4million passenger journeys annually, but piers and tickets offices at Bowness, Ambleside and Lakeside were all flooded by Storm Desmond last month, along with boathouses, workshops and retail outlets. Lewis’ Café at Bowness Pier was also under 3 foot of water at the peak of the flood. 

Windermere Lake Cruises was unable to sail for four days, but is now back on its full winter timetable. Although business during the first two weeks of December was down 70% on the same time last year, the company has pulled back visitors and finished the month only 12% down on December 2014.

Much of the company’s business in recent weeks is thanks to coach passengers, with staff welcoming 29 coaches – and 3,000 passengers - on one day alone (Tuesday 29 December). That includes mostly Chinese visitors, but also Indian and domestic groups.

Nigel Wilkinson, Managing Director of Windermere Lake Cruises, says, “Staff worked through the night – sometimes waist deep in water - to avoid damage to the fleet, and we were all determined to get back to our full service as soon as it was safe to do so. Our daily services are all back at full strength, and we’re hoping to make up some lost ground and overcome the perception that the Lake District is ‘closed’ or inaccessible to visitors. On the contrary, Windermere is easily reached from the M6 motorway or by rail. There is still plenty to see and do, and the winter landscapes are as stunning as ever. 

“This is a tough time for many companies and local communities, particularly those residents directly affected by the floods. Many people are now asking how they can help and the answer is simple: spread the word that the Lake District, Cumbria, is open and join us for a great day out.”

Windermere Lake Cruises run every day of the year except Christmas Day - view the timetable here.

For every Windermere Lake Cruises gift voucher sold between now and 24 March 2016, the company will donate 20% to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund.  

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