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Explore Claife Viewing Station and Windermere West Shore

View of Windermere through coloured glass at Claife Viewing Station, Cumbria
Looking at Windermere through coloured glass at Claife Viewing Station | © National Trust Images/Steven Barber

Claife Viewing Station offers endless lake views and is surrounded by great lakeside strolls, longer bike rides and wildlife in the woodland. Make a day of your visit by starting your trip on the ferry from Bowness. There’s no need to bring your car to this part of the Lakes, as it’s best explored on foot or by bike.

Claife Viewing Station

The very first tourists to explore the Lake District came to Claife Viewing Station to admire the views of Lake Windermere. Follow in their footsteps today and explore the station. No one ever lived here; it was built specifically for people to appreciate the landscape.

The building originally had windows tinted with coloured glass to recreate the landscape under different seasonal conditions, so we've recreated this for tourists today, with coloured panels as well as coloured glass slides you can hold.

Explore the west shore on foot or by bike

The west shore of Windermere is the perfect place for a gentle stroll or bike ride. With the lake on one side and the woods of Claife estate on the other, this hidden part of the district is waiting to be explored.

The well-surfaced path hugs the lake shore, taking you to an area that is less well known to visitors. You’ll pass many signs of the woodland industry that once dominated this side of Windermere and you can start to uncover layers of history that make this part of the country so special.

If you‘re up for a longer walk or cycle ride, you can keep going along the full length of the west shore path. At the northern end of the four-mile route, you’ll arrive at Wray Castle.

If you want to cover even more miles, bring your bike and explore the west shore off-road: Claife Heights is full of mountain bike routes. For the more leisurely cyclist, stick to the lake shore path.

Cyclists in the courtyard at Claife Viewing Station, Cumbria
Cyclists leaving the courtyard at Claife Viewing Station | © National Trust Images/Steven Barber

Ash Landing Nature Reserve

Walk or bike from the Viewing Station to Ash Landing Nature Reserve, and its mosaic of different habitats. In summer, spot slow-worms basking in the sun and butterflies in the wildflower meadow. Leaves turn into a kaleidoscope of colour in autumn and carpets of daffodils and bluebells can be found here in spring.

As you explore this side of the lake, you will start to uncover layers of hidden history and glimpses of the old woodland industries that once dominated this side of Windermere.

The woodlands were once an important resource for the local iron, leather and bobbin-making industries, as well as providing timber and firewood. Look out for the remains of charcoal burning platforms, which produced charcoal fuel for use in the iron industry.

Leave the car at home

Although there are two National Trust car parks here, at Harrowslack and Ash Landing, we recommend arriving on the ferry from Bowness. In less than 15 minutes you can leave the crowds behind, and for just 50p as a foot passenger, it’s a fun start to your day out.

In the summer you can bring your bike over on the Bike Boat from Brockhole.

A group of visitors chatting outside Claife Viewing Station and Windermere West Shore, Cumbria

Discover more at Claife Viewing Station and Windermere West Shore

Find out how to get to Claife Viewing Station and Windermere West Shore, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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