This little village was originally called Birthwaite. In 1847, with the arrival of the Railway (Windermere Station), Birthwaite became known as Windermere. Often visitors arriving in Windermere by road or rail expect to see the lake. However, Windermere is approximately 1.6km away from Lake Windermere and Bowness on Windermere.
Wordsworth tried to stop the railway being built, because he feared that his peace and tranquillity would be ruined. He was right, with the development of the railway both Windermere and Bowness on Windermere changed almost immediately. Not only did these villages receive hordes of visitors, but the New Wealthy from Lancashire started to build mansions, many Italiante or Gothic fantasies, and grand holiday homes to show off their wealthiness.
Many of these bigger Victorian mansions are no longer private homes. Belsfield is now a hotel and Brockhole and the National Park Centre used to be one.
Although Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere both retained their distinctive village centres, Windermere rapidly grew until it merged with Bowness on Windermere in 1905.
Today many of Windermere’s Victorian houses are either still used as bed and breakfast establishments or guest houses. Windermere can often be very busy during the Spring and Summer months, as it is the most commercialised village in the Lake District. Windermere has many amenities, tourist shops, a large number of which supply climbing and fell equipment as well as suitable hiking and climbing clothing and a Tourist Information Centre, which is located near to the bus and railway station.
Windermere remains the transport gateway to The Lakes. Although it is still called a village, it has all the amenities of a town. There are commercial banks, cuisine restaurants and pubs. Here you will also find St Mary’s Church (built in 1848), Orrest Head (Alfred Wainwright’s first climb) and the Baddeley Clock, which divides Windermere and Bowness on Windermere (built as a memorial to M J B Baddeley, author of a series of well regarded guidebooks).
Windermere has a population of just under 8,000