Top 10 Astonishing Facts about Lake Windermere


Lake Windermere is a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough after the retreat of ice at the start of the current interglacial period. A ribbon lake is a long and deep, finger-shaped lake, usually found in a glacial trough.

The lake is largely surrounded by foothills of the Lake District. It is replenished by the rivers Brathay, Rothay, Trout Beck, Cunsey Beck and several other lesser streams and has the capacity to hold around 79 billion gal (300 billion l) of water. It drains into the River Leven at the southernmost point.

Here are the top 10 astonishing facts about Lake Windermere;

1. Origin of the name

What a 10th century Viking Chief looked like – Flickr

The name Windermere has its origins in the tenth century, when a Norse chief called Vinand bestowed upon the lake its name of ‘Vinand’s Mere.’

Its name suggests it is a mere, a shallow lake, pond, or wetland, but despite the name this is not the case for Windermere, which in particular has a noticeable thermocline, distinguishing it from typical meres.

Previous spellings of the lake, including “Wynhendermere” and “Winandermere”.

2. It is the longest and largest natural lake in England

Windermere from Wansfell – Wikipedia

Lake Windemere is the largest natural lake in England measuring 220 ft (67 m) deep with a width of approximately one mile and a length of 10.5 mi (16.8 km), making it the longest lake in England, as well as the largest.

The lake covers 5.7 sq mi (14.8 sq km) on the northwest of the Lake District. Lake Windemere is so large that it has a slight but discernible tide.

3. Islands Of Lake Windermere

Belle Isle – Flickr

Lake Windermere has 19 islands or “holmes”, originated from the old Norse language for ‘small islands’. They include;

Belle Isle is the largest and privately wned, with 0.62 mi (1 km) length. It was the center of Windermere 800 years ago and was commonly known as Lang Holme then.

Thompson Holme: The second-largest holme after Belle Isle.

Crow Holme: Served as the natural habitat for Windermere Harriers’ local hounds.

Hen Holme: Also known as Chair and Table Island, due to the old stone slabs or flags found there during earlier times.

Bee Holme: Based on the water level, the insular status of this island varies.

Ling Holme: A rocky island surrounded by ling fish, which has a few trees.

Ramp Holme: Also known as Berkshire Island and Roger Holme.

Maiden Holme: The smallest holme among the lakes.

Fir Holme: Locally known as Birch or Birk Holme.

Crag Holme: Locally called the Otter Holme.

The rest of the islands are Snake Holme, Rough Holme, Blake Holme, Silver Holme, Grass Holme, Hawes Holme, Lady Holme, and Lilies of the Valley East and West.

4. Windermere Lake’s contribution to science

Water testing – Wikipedia

The Freshwater Biological Association was established on the shore of Windermere in 1929 by Felix Eugen Fritsch, William Harold Pearsall, Francis Balfour-Browne, and Robert Gurney among others.

The Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) is an independent scientific organization that was originally created to be a research station it has evolved into a learned society whose mission is to “to promote the sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems and resources, using the best available science”.

Much of the early work on lake ecology, freshwater biology and limnology was conducted at Windermere Lake.

5. Dispute in the actual length of the river

Lake Windermere – Flickr

There is debate whether the stretch of water between Newby Bridge and Lakeside at the southern end of the lake should be considered part of Windermere, or a navigable stretch of the River Leven.

This affects the stated length of the lake, which is 11.23 miles (18.07 km) long if measured from the bridge at Newby Bridge, or 10.5 miles (16.9 km) if measured from Lakeside.

6. From one county to the other

Lake Distict the county of Cumbria – Flickr

 Before 1974, the lake lay wholly within the county of Westmorland. Anyone crossing the lake from east to west on the Windermere Ferry thus travels from the historic county of Westmorland to that of Lancashire.

However, since local government reorganisation in 1974, Windermere and its shores have been entirely within the district of South Lakeland in the non-metropolitan county of Cumbria.

7. Boat clubs around Windermere Lake

Windermere Lake Cruise – Flickr

There are five large boating clubs based around the lake: The Lake District Boat Club: A family-oriented sailing club located in Bowness to have fun and relax. It mainly conducts both racing and social events.

The Windermere Cruising Association: Known for organizing the popular winter series event and summer races.

The South Windermere Sailing Club: Started initially as a family sailing club and has ventured on to compete in many successful competitions.

The Royal Windermere Yacht Club: Founded in 1860 to promote sailing in the Lake District, it welcomes those of all ages and ability levels, from world champions to starters.

The Windermere Motorboat Racing Club was moved to Barrow Docks after the introduction of a 10 mph speed limit on Windermere in 2005.

The notoriously fluky wind on the lake has proved a successful training ground in learning to read the fast-changing wind.

8. Windermere Lake hosts the largest open water swimming in the United Kingdom

Great North Swim – Flickr

On Saturday 13 September 2008, Windermere hosted the inaugural Great North Swim, a one-mile (1.6 km) open water swim involving 2,200 swimmers.

Taking its inspiration from the world’s biggest half-marathon the Great North Run, Great Swim uses the formula of mass participation events to provide a focus and a challenge for which the individual can train.

The second annual swim took place on 12 and 13 September 2009, with 6,000 swimmers, making this the largest open water swim in the UK.

9. Popular tourist destination

Lake Windemere – Flickr

Windermere Lake has been one of the country’s most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway’s branch line in 1847.

It is the most commercialized of the English Lakes, known for its picturesque scenery that stands out. The lake is usually crowded in the spring and summer months, particularly along the east bank.

10. Windermere Lake is a record holder

Sir Henry Segrave – Wikipedia

On Friday 13 June 1930, Sir Henry Segrave broke the world water speed record on Windermere in his boat, Miss England II, at an average speed of 158.94 km/h (98.76 mph).

However, in March 2000, the Lake District National Park Authority controversially introduced a bylaw setting a 10-knot (12 mph; 19 km/h) speed limit for all powered craft on the lake, in addition to three existing 6-knot (7 mph; 11 km/h) speed limits for all craft on the upper, lower, and middle sections of the lake.

The bylaws on the lake were reviewed and renewed in 2008.