What are the top cruises for exploring the Beatrix Potter’s Lake District by water?

The Lake District has been a long-standing source of inspiration for poets, writers, and artists for centuries. Among them is Beatrix Potter, the famed author of the Peter Rabbit series. Her love for this spectacular landscape was so profound that she dedicated a substantial part of her life to preserving its beauty and charm. Today, many visitors are drawn to the Lake District for its serene lake cruises, offering an opportunity to explore the region's stunning landscapes from the unique perspective of the water. This article will delve into the top cruises that allow you to explore Beatrix Potter's Lake District by water.

Exploring Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere, England’s largest natural lake, is often the first port of call for visitors. This sparkling expanse of water is a testament to the Lake District's natural beauty. A cruise on Lake Windermere is a fantastic way to soak up the breathtaking views of the surrounding fells and woodland.

Several cruises operate on Lake Windermere, each offering a different perspective of the lake's beauty. The Freedom of the Lake ticket allows you to hop on and off at various stops throughout the day, making it easy to explore the lakeside towns of Bowness, Ambleside and Lakeside at your leisure. If you are a fan of Beatrix Potter, a visit to Bowness will bring you to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, where her tales are brought to life.

Beatrix Potter's Hill Top House Tour

The Hill Top House, Beatrix Potter's former home, overlooks Lake Windermere and provides a fascinating insight into the author's life. A boat tour that includes a visit to Hill Top is a must for any Beatrix Potter fan. Here, you will get to see the house just as Beatrix left it, with her favorite items on display and a beautiful garden that still grows the plants and flowers she loved to paint.

The boat tour begins at Bowness Pier, with a picturesque cruise across Lake Windermere to the tranquil western shore. From the jetty, it is a short bus ride to the charming village of Sawrey, where Hill Top House is located. After your visit, you can enjoy the return cruise, taking in the scenic views and perhaps spotting some local wildlife along the way.

A Day in the Coniston Water

Another must-visit spot in the Lake District is Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the area. Known for its crystal-clear water and surrounded by dramatic fells, it is a beautiful place to explore by boat.

The National Trust operates the Steam Yacht Gondola, a beautifully restored Victorian steam-powered yacht, on Coniston Water. You can enjoy a leisurely cruise, taking in the stunning landscape that inspired both Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons.

Park Tour and Windermere Lake Cruise

The combination of a lake cruise and a visit to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway offers an excellent day out exploring the Lake District. This tour begins with a steam train journey through the beautiful Leven Valley to Lakeside. From here, you board one of the Windermere Lake Cruises boats for a relaxing cruise back to Bowness.

This tour provides a wonderful opportunity to see some of the Lake District’s most charming countryside and water views. Bowness, the bustling town on the shores of Windermere, is well worth a visit with its array of shops, restaurants, and attractions, including the World of Beatrix Potter.

Lake District National Park Boat Tours

Numerous boat tours operate within the Lake District National Park, each offering a unique way to explore the area. The Ullswater 'Steamers' is an award-winning environmentally friendly cruise, which sails on one of England's most beautiful lakes. This cruise allows you to view the spectacular scenery of the Lake District National Park, including the famous Helvellyn mountain range.

Another popular choice is the Keswick Launch. This tour provides an opportunity to explore the beauty of Derwentwater, surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the Skiddaw mountain range and Borrowdale Valley. Keswick Launch operates all year round, meaning you can enjoy the beauty of the Lake District in every season.

Mountain Goat Tours

For those looking for a mix of land and water exploration, the Mountain Goat Tours offers a perfect balance. This tour company offers a Beatrix Potter's Favourite Countryside tour that combines a scenic cruise on Lake Windermere with a visit to the quaint town of Hawkshead and Tarn Hows, a picturesque beauty spot once owned by Beatrix Potter.

The day starts with a cruise across Lake Windermere, offering majestic views of the mountains and coastline. On reaching Hawkshead, you can explore the cobbled streets of this historic town, visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery, and discover more about her life and works.

The tour then heads to Tarn Hows, a beauty spot set amidst the Lake District's spectacular scenery. Here, you can enjoy a leisurely walk around the tarn, admire the views, and perhaps spot some of the local wildlife.

The last stop of the tour is Hill Top, the beloved home of Beatrix Potter. Here you can tour the house and garden that inspired many of her stories. This tour is an excellent way to explore and understand the places and landscapes that played such a significant role in Beatrix Potter's life and work.

Full-Day Lake District National Park Tour with Lake Cruise

For those with a full day to spare, the full-day Lake District National Park tour with a lake cruise is a great option. This tour offers an array of experiences, from a visit to Hill Top, a cruise on Lake Windermere to exploring the charming towns and villages of the Lake District.

The tour begins with a visit to Hill Top, where Beatrix Potter penned many of her famous stories. After exploring the house and garden, the tour continues to the picturesque village of Hawkshead. Here, you can visit the Grammar School where the famous poet William Wordsworth was educated.

Next, you embark on a lake cruise on Lake Windermere, where you can enjoy the tranquil waters and stunning surrounding scenery. The tour then takes you to Bowness-on-Windermere, a bustling town offering various attractions, eateries, and shops.

Lastly, you will visit the scenic Tarn Hows, one of the Lake District's most beautiful spots. This tour provides the perfect combination of land and water exploration, offering a comprehensive experience of the Lake District National Park.


In conclusion, exploring the Lake District by water offers a unique and immersive way to experience this stunning landscape. From tranquil lake cruises on Lake Windermere, Coniston Water, and other beautiful lakes to tours that combine boat rides with visits to Beatrix Potter's former home, there are ample options for every type of traveler. These tours not only provide a chance to soak up the breathtaking views but also enable visitors to delve into the life and works of Beatrix Potter, one of the Lake District's most beloved figures. Whether you're a fan of Beatrix Potter, a nature enthusiast or simply a lover of beautiful landscapes, a cruise around the Lake District is an experience not to be missed.