Windermere ferry

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.

In the summer months there is a minibus service between Ferry House and Hawkshead, calling at Beatrix Potter's Hilltop House. The ferry offers the opportunity to leave the car behind, cross the lake on foot and catch the bus, relaxing all the while and enjoying the scenery while someone else does all the work.

The Ferry will be taken out of the water from Monday 4 March for approximately 3 weeks for refit and full inspection. It is anticipated to be back in operation from Monday 25 March:

Cumbria County Council's Windermere Ferry will be taken out of the water next month for its five-yearly refit and full inspection.

The Mallard, a vessel that can carry 15 cars and more than 100 passengers across England's longest lake between Bowness and Far Sawrey, will be out of service from Monday 4 March for approximately three weeks.  It is anticipated to be back in operation from Monday 25 March.

The inspection will be carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) - the licencing body that provides the licence for the Windermere Ferry to run. This licence requires an out of water inspection to be carried out every five years. The inspection will include a review of the mechanical, electrical and operational records to ensure that the vessel (and the council as operator) is fit to continue providing the service.

The work will also include installing an emergency access platform to the side of the Mallard from the car deck. This would provide a safe means of evacuating passengers in an emergency as a direct cross-board to a vessel alongside. Additionally, the vessel will undergo a full re-paint, new graphics, rust treatment and the installation of a new PA system to improve the passenger experience.

This routine maintenance work, which will cost approx. £ 150,000, was unable to be completed when the ferry was out of action following the engine fire last year - this was due to the timing of the MCA inspection requirements and available budget.

The inspection and re-fit works will provide a new five year life for the Mallard without any further planned maintenance works.

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said:

"We recognise that the ferry being out of service creates an inconvenience for the many people - locals and visitors alike - who use it. The five-yearly inspection and refit is essential work that will ensure the ferry is in top condition ahead of the busy summer season."

Why is the work needed?

The maintenance and inspection work is a requirement of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to comply with the operator's licence.

What does the work involve?

The work involves the physical inspection of the hull; survey of the hull plate thickness and periodic maintenance of all the mechanical components (drive shaft, gearbox, hydraulic systems and engine).

Why wasn't the work done last year?

The work was unable to be completed last year as the slipway was not available during the summer. The slipway owner does not hire out the slipway during the summer for commercial priorities for their own vessels.

Why does the work take so long?

The service interruption is planned for 3 weeks. It takes a minimum of 2 days to remove Mallard form Ferry Nab and install on the slipway and 3 days minimum to return Mallard from the slipway back in to full service. This leaves the contractor with around 16 days (including weekends) to carry out the works.

What work will be done?

  • The main shafts will be removed and all bearings and seals checked or replaced.
  • The gearbox needs to be replaced with the spare unit
  • Engine 2 requires a replacement cylinder head and "top end" rebuild
  • Engine 1 requires a 1000 hour service (tapets/valve adjustment, etc)
  • The wheelhouse requires a new ceiling and floor coverings
  • Alterations to the PA system
  • Addition of a new Emergency Egress Gate off the main car deck
  • Installation of an additional self inflating life raft on the Northern side
  • Repainting of the whole vessel
  • Repairs to the Eastern lap board hinges

Wasn't the engine replaced last year?

Yes one engine is a new engine but this has now reached its first major service interval (1000 hours)

Why is the work being done now?

Mallard is approaching 30 years old and has always been maintained on a 5 yearly major Inspection and maintenance frequency. The last inspection was in 2014.

Could the work be done at any other time of year?

The Operators Licence is to be renewed in May and the Inspection has to be carried out within 3 months of this date. This time we have managed to arrange the Maintenance and Inspection to be carried out in March rather than May as has been the previous inspections. In March the usage is lower than in May and uniquely the slipway is available for us to utilise.

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 SingleBook of 20 ticketsAnnual contractQuarterly contract
Pedestrian50pence £ 5 £ 30-
Pedal cycle (including cyclists) £ 1 £ 10 £ 30-
Moped, motorcycle, horse £ 1.60 £ 16 £ 60-
All private vehicles and light goods vehicles up to 1.5 tonnes weight and up to 15ft (4.6m) long £ 4.40 £ 44 £ 150 £ 40
Caravan, trailer £ 4.40 £ 44 £ 150 £ 40
Goods vehicle from 1.5 to 8 tonnes weight (max) and up to 26ft (8m) long (max) £ 7.80 £ 78 £ 265 £ 70
Minibus or coach with up to 16 passenger seats £ 7.80 £ 78 £ 265 £ 70
Minibus or coach with more than 16 passenger seats up to 8 tonnes weight (max) and up to 26ft (8m) long (max) £ 16.30 £ 163 £ 750 £ 190

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.

The Ferry team can be contacted directly on 07860 813427 for information on any delays or impacts on the service due to the weather and conditions.

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

Contracts and discount books are available from:

County Hall
LA9 4RQ 

or by telephone: 0300 303 2992