Lakeland in Winter (1) Bowness-on-Windermere

I thought you might like a walk through Bowness-on-Windermere. It’s the place that most people think of as ‘Windermere’, but the actual town of Windermere is a 45 min walk up the hill from the lake: the final station on the rail line from Kendal, and as close as the Victorian engineers could get to the lake from the surrounding hills.

Holidaymakers arrive in droves from Easter onwards, so it’s nice for us ‘locals’ to make the most of the Winter quietness. We’re driving to the outskirts of Bowness so that our stroll into the town can incorporate a dog walk and ‘frisbee chuck’ on the hilly pitch-and-put course that wends its way to the ferry point.

We were expecting it to rain the whole day – as it has for the previous two; but the skies are brightening. My trusty iPhone 12 is in hand and I’ll be making this a very visual walk, so you can ‘feel’ the atmosphere of this beautiful place.

After much barking and running – and that’s just me – we cross to the other side of the pitch-and-put course and arrive at the far hillock that overlooks the town of Bowness-on-Windermere (Bowness) and its busy ferry point.

The local council allows dogs on the mini-golf course, which is deeply appreciated. Being a former (but not very good) golfer, I stay off the greens of course!

It’s at this point that we realise that it’s a lot busier down there than it should be on a winter Monday… We share this view with a passing fellow dog-owner who laughs, and reminds us it is both half-term and Valentine’s Day. We remember exchanging cards, and tea in bed, but the school holidays have somehow eluded our radar…

Crestfallen, we descend towards the crowded ferry wharf…and don our Covid masks…

As we near the bottom of the hill, a graceful shape slides through the trees. One of the large passenger ferries is about to dock. You’d think it was summer…

You can take ferries along the whole ten miles of Lake Windermere; from Lakeside, in the south; via Bowness; and on to the northern tip near Ambleside, whose ferry point is Waterhead.

The boat – now seen to be the M.V. Swan – the largest of the passenger boats on the lake – beats us to the dock as we watch its graceful entrance to Bowness. There’s something deeply moving about seeing a large craft like this dock, elegantly.

Ahead of us, the Swan dominates the space, its sheer, white presence lighting up the winter water.

Bernie notices a panel on the side of the ticket office which shows the height of the terrible floods caused by Storm Desmond in 2015. She has me pose with extended elbow to show the water level at the time… The ferry harbour was closed for weeks.

The picture below shows the same place after the floods … Devastating.

It’s time Tess had a drink of water, and we’re due a coffee, so we head along the shore and into the town. We’re about to turn off the road into a Costa Coffee shop (with outside seating for dog owners – we know how to live!) when I notice that the intensity of the ‘holiday’ traffic on this main road has diminished…to nothing.

I turn to view a road empty of traffic and there’s one of the largest articulated lorries I’ve ever seen. It’s slowly climbing up from the ferry point, flanked by an escort car that is racing ahead to halt and disperse all other vehicles.

Tess has been in the adjacent ‘coffee garden’ many times. Terrified of the behemoth roaring up the gradient, she drags me towards the gate…

I manage to grab a final shot of the monster as it rages past, then turn to console the Collie… Large coffees, we think… are they licensed? She nods… we’re a complete synthesis of human and dog. Inseparable.

And that’s about it, really. We amble around the shops, loving Bowness’ artisan back streets and alleyways…

There are even some period arcades, their original woodwork intact…

I always look for some humour on these occasions; something to end the piece with a smile… Here’s today’s offering. The new owner of a shop that’s been there ‘forever’ has repurposed its space.

I’ve expanded their wonderful (and I’m sure tongue-in-cheek) tag line in the image below…

Next time you need that unique sterling silver statement jewellery with repurposed attitude, you know it’s time you visited Bowness-on-Windermere… love it!

It’s never dull in Bowness. Come and join us…

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

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