24 Hours in Windermere

Nicki Thornhill spends a day in the Lake District on the shore of Windermere

7am Dawn breaks over Windermere and we sit in the bay window of our room to watch the small boats puttering along England’s largest lake. Some weekends are all about cramming as much as possible into your precious time but this one, well, this one is all about relaxation. We’d arrived at the Beech Hill Hotel and Spa (beechhillhotel.co.uk) late the previous evening, too late to have enjoyed this magnifi cent view of the lake and the snow-capped hills beyond. The hotel is tiered on the banks of the lake so most rooms get to enjoy these special views and many have their own patio areas. The excellent restaurant, well-equipped spa and outdoor hot tub means many guests never venture any further afi eld. But we need to explore so, after a hearty full English, we set off for the town.

9.30am The walk to Bowness and then Windermere itself takes around an hour down a winding lakeside road. It’s not terribly arduous but sensible shoes are the order of the day. Noon Bowness is a lively waterside village and your starting point to explore the lake. You can hire rowing boats or small motor launches or hop aboard the tourist boats that meander along various routes up and down the lake. A short cruise will see you back on dry land in under an hour but you can also get a ticket that gives you access to all routes and stop-offs for 24 hours. Each cruise includes a fascinating commentary on the history, attractions and points of interest surrounding Windermere.

1pm We broke our cruise in Ambleside with its fine views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Ambleside is a base for hiking, mountaineering and mountain biking. Oh, and it’s also got some great pubs and restaurants for the less active!

3pm Windermere itself is a lovely little market town located a little way from the lake. You’re not going to fill a whole day there, but there are plenty of shops and attractions to fi ll in a couple of hours.

7pm Dinner in the Burlingtons restaurant back at Beech Hill was the perfect way to end a relaxing day. The menu is short and the portions are bijou, but the flavour and the presentation are excellent. It had not been the busiest day ever but we had come away to relax and that was one box well and truly ticked.