Lake District Attractions by Boat

Boat cruises across the Lake District
with connections to the best attractions

SY Gondola, Coniston
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The Lake District is a wonderful place to visit and the best way to travel around is by public transport so you can fully admire the scenery and visit the many attractions. Probably the most enjoyable form of public transport is a boat cruise on a Lake District lake.

There are public boat services on four of the main Lake District lakes; Windermere, Derwent Water, Ullswater and Coniston Water. They all provide wonderful scenic boat cruises, often used for pleasure but most also connect with buses or trains allowing onward travel across the area.

There are descriptions of each lake, the various cruises on offer and where they stop along the way. The interactive maps show all boat stops on each lake. Where the stop is near a town or attraction, a link is included for further details. Many cruises operate throughout the year and there are links for current timetables and further information.


Information updated: November 2016




Lake District boat cruises

Windermere Derwent Water Ullswater Coniston Water


Windermere

Windermere, Bowness bay England’s largest lake at over 10 miles long and up to a mile wide. The northern end of the lake is the most spectacular, backed by Lake District mountains, but the low hills that surround the rest of the lake are also very attractive. The lake is popular for recreational boating although the ban on speed boats remains. The water can get crowded and so indeed can the shore, especially on the eastern side around Bowness and the northern shore at Ambleside where the majority of visitors tend to congregate. The more secluded shore is on the western side away from the crowds and there is some good walking and cycling along this shore, especially between Wray Castle and Ferry House.


Windermere Lake Cruises

Operating a number of different cruises around Windermere lake, daily all year unless specified. No cruises 25th December. There are various ticket offers available including cruise combined with Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, Lakeland Motor Museum or Lakes Aquarium.

Red Cruise. Cruise around the northern half of Windermere lake calling at Bowness on Windermere, Brockhole visitor centre and Waterhead (Ambleside). Frequent cruises per day all year, more between Easter and November. 70 minute round trip from Bowness.

Yellow Cruise. Cruise around the southern half of Windermere lake calling at Bowness on Windermere and Lakeside. Several cruises per day between Easter and November, less outside that period. Does not operate during the week in January. 90 minute round trip from Bowness.

Islands Cruise. Cruise around the Islands of Bowness Bay from Bowness on Windermere. Cruises every 30 minutes from Easter to November. Three cruises per day outside that period. 45 minute cruise.

Green Cruise. Seasonal cruise around the northern end of Windermere lake calling at Waterhead (Ambleside), Wray Castle, Brockhole visitor centre. Several cruises per day between Easter and November, more in school holidays. Does not operate outside that period. 50 minute round trip from Waterhead.

Bowness to Ferry House. Seasonal passenger service from Bowness Pier 3 to Ferry House, adjacent to Windermere Ferry landing. Service forms part of the 'Cross Lakes experience' connecting with the 525 bus service at Ferry House for onward travel to Hill Top and Hawkshead. Frequent daily service from Easter to November plus February school holidays.

Lakeside to Fell Foot Park. Seasonal passenger service linking Lakeside and Fell Foot Park at the southern end of Windermere lake. Frequent daily service from Easter to September plus October school holidays and weekends in October. Two services per day are extended 30 minute cruises around the southern end of the lake.

Bike Boat. Seasonal service between Brockhole visitor centre and Bark Barn which takes up to 12 bikes and links cycle paths on both sides of Windermere lake. Operates weekends from May school holidays and daily during summer school holidays. No service beyond summer holidays. Regular boats daily when operating. Also connects with bus service 599 at Brockhole which can carry 2 bikes.

Windermere Car & Passenger Ferry

Car and passenger ferry service across the middle part of Windermere lake between Ferry Nab (near Bowness) and Ferry House. Operates every 30 minutes from early till late, all year except 25th/26th December. In rough weather services are often suspended and technical issues can also sometimes prevent it running. To confirm if the ferry is running call 07860 813427 or check the live webcam at Ferry House. Operated by Cumbria County Council. Connects with the 525 bus service at Ferry House for onward travel to Hill Top and Hawkshead.




Derwent Water

Derwent Water from Crow Park Affectionately called ‘the Queen of the Lakes’, it is certainly in an unbeatable position nestling in the jaws of Borrowdale with fabulous views in all directions. Wherever you look there are great sights, Skiddaw, Cat Bells, Borrowdale and Lodore Falls to name but a few. The main centre is Keswick which also has some wonderful lakeshore access and is the base for lake cruises. Away from Keswick much of the shoreline has public access. The popular shore is the eastern side, mainly because the road runs alongside making access easy. The western shore is more peaceful with a lovely footpath and no road nearby.


Keswick Launch

Cruise around Derwent Water calling at the following seven jetties; Keswick, Ashness Gate (Ashness Bridge), Lodore, High Brandelhow, Low Brandelhow, Hawes End, Nichol End. Cruises start at Keswick and travel both clockwise and anticlockwise around the lake.

The full cruise takes approx 50 minutes and you can hop on and off at any jetty. This is ideal if you want to combine a cruise with walking a section of the lakeshore footpath.

Frequent cruises per day between March and November and during all school holidays. Weekend cruises at other times but can be closed during winter, check website.





Ullswater

Ullswater A beautiful lake of many contrasts. The northern end is quite green and undulating, the southern end is very mountainous and spectacular. The western shore has a main road running alongside it, the eastern shore is less accessible and quite tranquil. There are two lakeshore villages where people tend to congregate, Pooley Bridge at the northern end of the lake and Glenridding at the southern end. Other than these, public lakeshore access areas are mostly found at various roadside locations along the western shore. The eastern shore has some fabulous footpaths but shoreline access is limited.


Ullswater Steamers

The main cruise is along the length of Ullswater, calling at Pooley Bridge, Howtown and Glenridding. To cruise the full length takes approx 1 hour. Frequent cruises per day between Easter and November, less outside that period. Daily cruises all year except 24th/25th December. A popular day trip is to combine a boat cruise with a walk between Pooley Bridge and Howtown or Glenridding and Howtown.

At weekends and daily during school holidays there are frequent additional cruises between Glenridding and Aira Force, less during winter. This new cruise is designed to allow easy access to the waterfall and to combine a cruise with a walk on the new footpath betwen the two piers.





Coniston Water

Coniston Water lakeside A popular lake for boating and scene of one of the most famous boating incidents in history - Donald Campbell’s ill fated water world speed record attempt in 1967. There is some wonderful scenery including Coniston mountain range to the north, Grizedale Forest to the east and bracken covered Common to the west. The main centre is at Coniston village, situated between the lake and Coniston Old Man mountain. Lake Road runs approx 0.5 miles from the village to Coniston jetty which is the centre for lake activities. Cruises stop at several other jetties around the lake, all allowing access to wonderful lakeshore, walks and attractions.


Coniston Launch

Operating a number of different cruises around Coniston Water, starting from Coniston jetty.

Northern Cruise. Cruise around the northern half of Coniston Water, calling at Coniston, Waterhead, Torver, Brantwood. There are regular cruises every day between February and October, outside that period a few cruises at weekends and during school holidays. 45 minute cruise. Cruise forms part of the 'Cross Lakes experience' connecting with the 505 bus at Waterhead Hotel, near Waterhead jetty. This jetty is closer to a bus stop than Coniston jetty.

Wild Cat Island Cruise. Seasonal cruise around most of Coniston Water, passing Wild Cat Island from Swallows and Amazons. Calling at Coniston, Torver, Sunny Bank, Brantwood. A few cruises per day from Easter to October. 60 minute cruise.

Southern Lake Themed Cruise. Seasonal cruise around the whole of Coniston Water, calling at Coniston, Torver, Lake Bank, Sunny Bank, Brantwood. One cruise per day, Monday to Thursday from Easter to September. Alternate themed trips, Swallows and Amazons or Campbells on Coniston. 90 minute cruise.

Steam Yacht Gondola

The famous and beautiful Steam Yacht Gondola is a rebuilt Victorian steam powered yacht, originally built in 1859 and now operated by the National Trust. There are regular cruises between Easter and October but none outside that period. Cruises start from Coniston jetty and include commentary.

Half Lake Cruise. Seasonal cruise around the northern half of Coniston Water from Coniston with request stops at Brantwood and Monk Coniston. A few cruises per day between Easter and October. 45 minute cruise.

Full Lake Cruise. Seasonal cruise around the whole of Coniston Water on special themed cruises from Coniston with request stops at Lake Bank, Parkamoor, Brantwood and Monk Coniston. One cruise per day between Easter and October. 1 hour 45 minute cruise.