Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories

Creative Tourist
Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories in Cumbria
Courtesy of Lakeland Arts

As Ratty from Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children’s classic The Wind in the Willows sagely remarked to Mole: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Grahame would know, having spent much of his childhood doing just that on the River Thames in rural Berkshire. It’s a shame that he died nearly 90 years too late to see the opening of the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories in Cumbria – a place he surely would have loved. Dedicated, at its core, to the simple, timeless pleasure of bobbing around on the water, this unusual new centre represents a very special addition to the region’s cultural offer, which will bring joy to both hardcore boat aficionados and those with a more passing curiosity alike.

The extremely family-friendly museum tells the story of 200 years of boats, boating and boat building in the Lake District through its internationally significant collection of over 40 vessels, amassed by the local builder and steam enthusiast, George Pattinson (an intriguing character in himself).

Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories in Cumbria

A series of new jetties allow visitors to take a trip around Windermere aboard Osprey – a fully-restored Edwardian steam launch, or to arrive at the museum in style on board the Red Cruise. Once you’re through the door, highlights on display include: the Trimite, a Formula 1 racing catamaran which set the world record of 144 mph in 1983; SL Dolly, one of the oldest mechanically powered boats ever built, and which sat at the bottom of Ullswater for over 60 years; and the flat-bottomed rowing boat in which Beatrix Potter passed many happy hours sketching and fishing on the tarns near her home. The museum is a great place for kids, too, with plenty of interactive elements, code-breaking games and extra activities to enjoy during the school holidays.

Rather than simply somewhere to escape wet weather, Windermere Jetty’s idyllic location is truly made the most of and the attraction holds plenty of appeal come rain or shine. Unique heritage boat trips are available all year round (these are very popular, so best booked online in advance) and a new Boating Pond is the perfect spot to sail you’re own model boat, or to watch others (the Windermere Model Boat Club’s twice-weekly meets are quite a spectacle!) with a picnic by the water. A unique outdoor Conservation Workshop also provides an insight into the ancient craft of boat building and visitors can learn more about the traditional techniques and skills used during one of the museum’s daily talks (11am and 2.45pm, drop-in, free).

Ice cream, light snacks and drinks are available from the recently restored Windermere Fire Station for those that arrive less prepared. Or, we’d highly recommend ending your visit by calling at the museum’s excellent café, where stunning lakeside views compliment a range of traditional Lakeland dishes with a contemporary twist made using locally sourced ingredients.

Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories in Cumbria

The £20M development marks the first contemporary building to be constructed on the shores of England’s largest, and arguably most picturesque, lake in over half a century. The RIBA award-winning architectural practice, Carmody Groake, has risen to the challenge admirably, with a subtle design that artfully blends with and frames the surrounding landscape.

All in all, Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories makes for the perfect day out.

The museum will offer a year-round events programme, featuring school holiday activities and talks on subjects including boats, conservation and ecology. Further details to be confirmed. For other things to see and do nearby, check out our cultural guide to the Cumbria region.

Rayrigg RoadWindermere,LA231BN View map
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Opening Hours

  • Monday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Tuesday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Wednesday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Thursday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Friday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Saturday10:00am - 5:00pm
  • Sunday10:00am - 5:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

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