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Course base feature - Windermere, Lake District
Welcome to the Icicle town tour of Windermere. It's where our office and shop is located, and is the course base for all our acivities in the Lake District, as well as being a logistics base for trips in the Alps and globally. We get many requests from clients asking our favourite places to hang out, shop and visit. Here's our tour...

Below is one of our favourite views in the Lake District National Park. It's from the top of Orrest Head, a modest fell top just a 20 minute walk up the path across the road from our office door. At its top, there is a plaque to Alfred Wainwright, the famous guidebook author, which sums up what is so special about this location...
"Our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in
tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty...
A fitting finale, too, to a life made happy by fellwandering"
Extract of Orrest Head quote by Alfred Wainwright
The town today
Windermere is the longest natural lake in England, at 10.5 miles in length. It was created in the Quaternary glaciations, and is a long ribbon lake in a flooded glacial trough. At its northern end is a splendid panorama of mountains and fell tops containing many of the highest peaks in the country. Despite their modest height, the Lakeland fells have often harsh winters, with extensive snow and ice cover. The Lake District was made famous initially by the likes of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, but it only grew rapidly as a tourism destination with the arrival of the railway. In Windermere, the branch line from Kendal opened in 1847.
Historically three counties forming the area that is now called Cumbria; Westmorland, Cumberland and Lancashire. The Lake District National Park was created in 1951, and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. Windermere is on the hillside above the lake, and it's a 20 minute walk down to the lakeshore at Bowness-on-Windermere. The town population is 8,500 residents, though obviously this swells significantly with tourists and day visitors.

The Lake District is by far the most popular national park in the UK, and it both benefits and suffers with the huge visitor numbers in the peaks of season. The economy is dependent on this trade, but there is a big impact on the local infrastructure, as well as erosion issues on the mountains. We aim to operate all our Lakes courses sustainably, encouraging people to travel to the area by train (3.5 hours from London Euston), and to car share in the national park.
Icicle was established in late 2000, and we moved our office base to Windermere back in 2012, where we also opened a mountain shop which stocks equipment and clothing selected by our guiding team. The Lake District is our home, and where all our trips are organised and arranged. You can come and visit us too!
Restaurants, cafes & pubs
Here is a selection of our favourite places to hang out in Windermere. There's a great choice, and you can select from a wide range of places to unwind, after a great day out in the mountains, or while waiting for a train...
Elleray pub & hotel, Windermere
This is a local hotel and pub, just around the corner from our Windermere office. The bar has a log fire, and there's always plenty of local ales on tap to choose from. The food is standard pub grub, so if you are after simple food, it's the place to head, and you can wash it down with a good pint or two. The pub also has a hotel with letting rooms above it, so this is a perfect one stop shop, to stay close by.
Pig restaurant, Windermere
If you want nice food and a great atmosphere, head to the Pig restaurant in Windermere. This place is always busy, so it's worth booking ahead especially on evenings at the weekend, or at lunchtimes. There's a good variety of food, as despite opening recently, this has quickly become a firm favourite with locals, as a great place to eat out. It's always been a hit with our groups heading here.
Crafty-Baa bar, Windermere
This is a quirky bar, which is inside a traditional stone house, which has been converted into a craft beer bar. Try saying that after a few tipples! The decoration is great inside and out, and there is a vast array of drinks to choose from. It's very snug and comfortable inside, and a great place to head on a cold evening, or if the Lake District weather is doing it's worst and raining. We really like this place!
Booths supermarket & cafe
If you've got a few minutes before your train, or want to get some supplies for lunches each day, Booths supermarket is the place to head. There's also a cafe with free WiFi and a toilet. The selection of food is great, and largely from local suppliers. It's good quality, and a northern supermarket chain, that is similar in style to Waitrose, but with a greater focus on quality and local provenence.
Places to stay in Windermere
All those booking on a Lake District trip, are sent a course dossier which includes a wide range of suggested places to stay. There's something for all budgets, from a backpackers hostel to a boutique hotel. Windermere is also famed for it's huge variety of Bed & Breakfast's, where you can stay in a local house, in a private room.
Shopping
Apparently the Lake District has a greater density of outdoor shops than anywhere else in Europe, and other hotspots within the national park are Ambleside and Keswick. Our shop is based in Windermere on Church Street, which is the main road towards Ambleside, just a 200m walk from the train station. We stock a wide range of items, from every day essentials for the UK hills such as water bottles, gaiters, walking poles etc, through to technical items for use on our Alpine and worldwide trips, such as avalanche tranaceivers, technical axes, ropes etc. Also we have a good range of maps and guidebooks in store.
All our course clients get a -15% discount in our store, or online shop, for all items. When you book a trip with us, you are sent an equipment discount voucher, with a code to apply at the checkout of our online store. To visit our online store, click here.

Many people visit the Lake District from nearby, as there are several cities within a hour or two drive, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Carlisle, and Preston. If you are planning to visit, please check our shop opening days and times; click here.
Orrest Head - the best view for the shortest walk in the Lake District
Directly across the road from our Windermere office, is a signpost to Orrest Head, to the left of the Windermere Hotel. Follow the road upwards for 50 metres, and then turn left onto a walled lane through the woods. After 200m you reach a signpost where you turn right to head upwards towards Orrest Head. After another 250m, you pass a gate onto fields, and turn right to ascend via some wooden steps, to gain the old carriage track. Follow this up to the kissing gate, and go through this to ascend some rocky ground for 200m to reach the summit. On your left is a plaque to Wainwright, with the quote at the top of this page, and a panorama to identify the peaks. There are benches to rest on, and to take in the view. Retrace your steps to descend back into Windermere. Allow 20 minutes for the ascent, and 15 for the descent. For such a small effort, the views from the summit are unparalleled, as you gaze up the long sweep of Windermere lake, to the fells that surround its northern end, and all around. Wainwrights words ring as true today, as when he wrote them.
Key travel pages links
Icicle course accommodation

How to book a course

Find our Windermere base

Visit our travel to the Alps page


Read our Chamonix town tour
Windermere town map
Twitter @IcicleLakesHQ
Popular links
Testimonials
Press & media
Films & videos
Photo gallery
Lakes fell running book
This book on trail and fell running routes in the Lake District was written by Kingsley, our lead running guide. You can even buy author signed copies from our shop...
Latest news from Icicle
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor. Many people opt for this service, and it is an integral part of what we offer, as we are keen to ensure that you are prepared as possible, and that you select a course that is suitable for you. It makes it easier and more enjoyable for you and us, if you are on the right trip.
 


 
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