Windermere (town): a guide

Before 1847 Windermere was called Birthwaite and hardly anyone had heard of it. Then came the railway, Birthwaite was re-christened Windermere and the Lake District changed for ever.

1847 also saw the building of the Windermere Hotel, just across from the station, beside the A591. To the left of the hotel is a signed pathway up to Orrest Head. It only takes 15-20 minutes to walk up the hill but the views of Windermere are worth every step.

A young Alfred Wainwright, who had only just arrived by bus from his hometown of Blackburn, stood here in June 1930 and called it a ‘moment of magic’. It was his first ever visit to the Lake District but such was its impact that years later he wrote his seven volume Pictorial Guides to the Lake District.

If you’re coming by car along the A591 from the direction of Kendal, it’s close to the railway station where you turn off the main road and head down the one way system through Windermere.

There’s a good mix of independent shops and the place itself feels more of a village than a town. About one mile (1.6km) down the hill - along New Road and Lake Road - it’s a different story.

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