Claife Heights Ride
Just under eleven miles taking in one of the most picturesque and historical areas in Windermere. It’s a fairly easy ride and can take between one and three hours based on your speed and ability. There are a few steep uphill sections but they are fairly short.
Point 1: Windermere Ferry
This is the route starting point. The Ferry itself has been used by travellers for over five hundred years. Originally the boats were rowed across Windermere which then gave way to steam ferries which were later followed by the diesel driven boats you’ll use today. Besides being a great way to see the lake the ferry also serves to help limit the traffic congestion on the roads around the lake.
The ferry takes people, vehicles, horses and cycles across the lake, reducing traffic on the surrounding narrow roads and easing congestion and pollution.
Point 2: Lake Windermere itself
The lake is approximately 10.5 miles long, a mile wide and up to 220 feet deep. This makes it the largest natural lake in England.
Point 3: View from Far Sawrey
Both Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey come from around the fourteenth century, when Near Sawrey was known as ‘Sourer’, later becoming ‘Narr Sawrey’ by the seventeen century which leads many to suggest that Far Sawrey must also have been recognised by that time. Both villages contain a pub but Far Sawrey also has a village shop.
Point 4: Hill Top
Beatrix Potter lived at Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey in her early thirties and a little known fact is that various areas of the villages around this area were used in her books including The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Fairy Caravan and The Tale of Tom Kitten.
Point 5: Esthwaite Water
If you look out over Esthwaite Water to the left you should be able to see Coniston Old Man.
Point 6: Hawkshead
Hawkshead grew as a market town after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537. Hawkshead actually belonged to the Furness Abbey until the twelfth century however the town itself dates back to Norse times. The Hawkshead Courthouse is owned by the National Trust and a lot of the village still maintains much of its historical features.
Point 7: Wray Castle
Well it’s not classed as a real castle due to it being constructed as a private residence built in the Gothic Revival Style of the mid eighteen hundreds. Originally built for retired Liverpool surgeon Dr Dawson it is also now owned by the National Trust. A little known fact is that the house was actually built using his wife’s inheritance from a gin fortune and on viewing the house for the first time she flat out refused to live in it.
Point 8: Windermere Lakeside Track
You will now join the cycle track which runs four miles alongside Lake Windermere to your left.
Point 9: Belle Isle
Like a lot of Windermere Belle Isle is steeped in history. The circular house on the island was originally built in the seventeen hundreds and named Belle Isle House. The house and the island itself were then sold for £1,720 to Isabella Curwen in 1781 and the island was permanently renamed after the shortened version of her name. Her descendants continued to live on the island until 1993.
The island itself was known locally as the Great Island or Long Holme before its renaming.