Windermere is the largest and probably the best known of the lakes. It is almost eleven miles long and a mile and a quarter wide at its widest point. Tourists arriving from south of the Lake District reach Windermere first and the main resorts, such as Bowness, Ambleside and Windermere itself, are around its banks. There are islands in the lakes, some of which are occupied. Boat trips ferry the visitors around and sailing is popular, especially during the summer. Recently the use of speed boats has been restricted, a disappointment to some of the water skiers. However, there are always rowing boats and canoes for hire at various places on the side of the lake.
The lake stretches from Waterhead down to Lake Side at the foot of Windermere. A trip from the lower end of the lake offers an opening panorama of hills, including the Fairfield and Kentmere groups. The largest of the islands opposite Bowness Bay is Belle Isle. It was named after Isabella Curwen for whom the island was purchased in 1781. She lived here with her husband, John Christian, MP for Carlisle. The island is still owned by the same family, descendents of the same family as Fletcher Christian, who led the mutiny on the Bounty and was born in nearby Cockermouth.
Another island in the lake is Lady Holme, where a chapel once stood. Not far from here is the National Trust property of Wray Castle, a comparatively modern castellated building, from which there are beautiful views of the lake. Approaching the head of the lake by water, offers a view of the distant mountains. The rocky fells are covered in places by a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees, offering a wonderful and varying canvas of colour according to the time of year.