Windermere ferry

Windermere Car Ferry restarting following COVID-19

Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, the County Council believes the Windermere Ferry can now operate safely within the Government guidelines on safe working.

Cumbria County Council's Windermere Ferry Service is developing plans to replace the current car ferry, the 'Mallard' with a brand-new electric ferry.  The Mallard carries pedestrians and vehicles between Bowness and Hawkshead.

The Mallard vessel is more than 30 years old, having first been introduced in 1991. The age of the ferry has led to reduced reliability and increased repair costs in recent years. 

The council intends to replace the Mallard with a new electric car ferry, with a 15 car and 140 passenger capacity to provide an improved service with reduced emissions.  Like the Mallard, the new ferry will be a cable ferry that pulls herself across the lake on two wire cables. 

The first phase of the project involved investigating the feasibility and options for the new car ferry service.  

Following an extensive procurement process, Cumbria County Council has made a decision not to progress to award the contract for a replacement electric Windermere Car Ferry. Due to economic and market uncertainty the Council has not been able to demonstrate value for money through the procurement process. Therefore, the existing ferry, The Mallard, will need to remain in service for longer than originally planned.  Procuring a new vessel in the current economic market has proved more challenging than expected and it's disappointing that the Council won't be in a position to launch a new electric car ferry on Windermere as originally planned.  On the 1 April 2023 Westmorland and Furness Council will take over responsibility for the ferry and the County Council will work with the Shadow Westmorland and Furness Council to find a way forward and to ensure the Mallard can continue to operate until a new ferry can be secured.

New Windermere Ferry Project Phase 1 Report (PDF 6MB).

Presentation - Windermere Ferry public engagement session (PDF 3MB).

Please email to share your views and ask any questions.

New Windermere Ferry 1New Windermere Ferry 2

As a result of these additional requirements for loading and unloading, it may not be possible to keep to timetable, however the Ferry Captains will use social media throughout the day to update the public on crossing times. For updates follow @WindermereFerry on Twitter.


Windermere Ferry takes people, vehicles, horses and cycles across the lake. It links the busy eastern shore of the lake and the peaceful countryside between Windermere and Coniston on the west, where there are many attractions and facilities for walking, riding and cycling.  It carries up to 18 cars and over 100 passengers.

All organisations have to review the price of their fares on a regular basis and while we all do all we can to keep our costs down, and the cost to our customers as low as possible, increases are something that despite our best efforts we can't always avoid.

It is over 4 years since we have applied increases to some of our fares, and over 10 years since we increased fares for pedestrians and cyclists. The decision to adjust our fares was taken very seriously especially given that this is an important tourism asset and also given the difficulties that the ferry has encountered over the last two years.

For a long time pedestrians enjoyed the journey for 50p which represents exceptional value for money, but is not a viable fare long term. When looking at this the council felt that the new cost for a pedestrian at £1 and a cyclist at £2 per crossing still provided excellent value.

When we reviewed the cost of cars we felt that what we charged was more in line with current market trends so the cost increase here in terms of an overall percentage was less than the increase we made for pedestrians and cyclist - but again this increase still represents good value for money when looking at the cost of similar services run elsewhere in the UK. 

For regular travellers the council continues to offer a number of heavily discounted annual contracts or bulk purchase of tickets for the ferry. An annual contract for a pedestrian or cyclist is £30, or a book of 20 tickets is £5 for a pedestrian or £10 for cyclists, which provides excellent value for money.

We recognise that the ferry is a well loved and popular local asset and our customer's views really do matter to us. This is why we have established the new Windermere Ferry Steering Group, made up of local businesses, residents and customers - and we will be taking customer feedback to the group for them to consider.  If in the meantime you would like to provide your comments on the ferry and its charges we would welcome these at

Departure times from Ferry Nab, Bowness
Summer (British Summer Time)Winter (Greenwich Mean Time)
Last Sunday in March to last Saturday in OctoberLast Sunday in October to last Saturday in March
Monday to Saturday
Departs Bowness 6.50am last crossing from Bowness to Sawrey 9.50pm last crossing from Sawrey to Bowness 10pm
Monday to Saturday
Departs Bowness 6.50am last crossing from Bowness to Sawrey 8.50pm last crossing from Sawrey to Bowness 9pm
Departs Bowness 8.50am last crossing from Sawrey to Bowness 10pm
Departs Bowness 8.50am last crossing from Bowness to Sawrey 8.50pm last crossing from Sawrey to Bowness 9pm
Schedule of Fares
Schedule of fares (from 1 April 2019)Single
Pedestrian £1
Pedal cycle (including cyclists) £2
Moped, motorcycle, horse £2
Vehicles up to 6m length £5
Vehicles over 6m length £10
Vehicle and trailer (over 6m length) £10
Disabled passengers (display blue badge)Free

The Ferry crossing normally takes 10 minutes including loading, safety checks and the journey across the lake. We generally work to a 20 minute return departing from Sawrey (west side) on the hour, 20 past and 20 to and from Ferry Nab (East side) at 10 past, half past and ten to the hour. However, these times are only a guide as the schedule can be delayed due to poor weather or if loading/unloading takes longer due to volume of vehicles and passengers or types of vehicles.

Blue badge holders who display a badge travel for free along with emergency services.

For tickets and contracts contact 01539 713066