Windermere's Bownessie - Myths and Legends of the Lakes

Windermere’s Bownessie

5 Facts About our English Loch Ness Monster

Windermere is the largest natural water lake in England and, like its Scottish counterpart, is it home to our very own Loch Ness Monster?

Whilst there have been over 10 reported sightings, Windermere’s rather shy Nessie still remains a myth today.

Whether you are a believer or not, here’s some interesting things you may not know about this rather shy creature.

  1. Windermere’s Nessie

Bownessie is the affectionate name given to the elusive creature that some think lives in Lake Windermere, named affectionately after the nearby town of Bowness.

It also has a lesser-known name of Winnie. If you know where this name comes from, do let us know!

  1. Where to see Bownessie

If you’re looking for ‘believers’ then head to the Lake District’s most popular attract – Windermere Lake Cruises. The guys there recommend a relaxing jaunt on one of their delightful steamers to see if you’re lucky enough to catch a sighting of our Windermere Nessie.  With the potential of a prize up for grabs, you may be right in thinking that this is just a tourist trap, but who knows.

For non-believers, there’s nothing wrong with a pleasurable amble around the beautiful ground of the mock-gothic Wray Castle Estate and perhaps glancing across the water for a glimpse of something unusual stirring the water’s surface.

The grounds of Wray Castle, on the quiet and more eerie western shore of Lake Windermere, is where two previous sightings of Bownessie have been reported, and we reckon it is a great place for a lake monster hunt. Take a picnic, some binoculars and of course a camera to record any sightings. You’ll need several shots to be convincing as the mystery close-up shot from kayakers Tom Pickles, 24, and Sarah Harrington, 23, in 2011 raised criticism for leaving too much out of shot.

If your Bownessie hunt proves inconclusive, then head to Lakes Aquarium on the southern tip of Lake Windermere in the village of Lakeside. Here you can get up-close-and-personal with other unusual marine creatures, such as ‘walking fish’, Piranha’s and the supreme local predator of lakes, the Pike. There’s always someone about too who will happily chat about the mythical lake creature too. The largest Pike caught on Windermere was apparently 110cm long, but this is a long way off the 12ft-killer pike that starred in the 1982 horror novel ‘The Pike’ – a freshwater version of ‘Jaws’ written by Manchester-born Cliff Twemlow and based around Lake Windermere.

  1. Monsters, Myths and Legends of the Lakes

Myths have long been associated with the Lake District and we certainly like a good yarn in the local watering hole here. We know, of course, that there are blue jacket wearing bunny’s (Peter Rabbit) and gentlemen foxes walking on their back legs (Mr Tod) around the woodlands of the Lake District.  Well at the wonderful The World of Peter Rabbit in Bowness there are at least, so who knows what else there may be!

That said, we have been in Windermere for over 40 years and are still to spot the mythical Bownessie.

Read more here about the legends and myths of the Lake District, including Windermere’s superbly named Tizzie Whizzie. Legends have it that it has a hedgehog like body, bumblebee wings and the tail of a squirrel.

  1. How big is Bownessie?

Windermere is 11 miles long and although it has a busy resort atmosphere, is actually home to several endangered freshwater species, such as European eels and more recently the native Arctic Charr. The 10mph speed limit, keeps the thriving boating community that has over 10,000 boats registered, at bay.

Perhaps this is enough to make any great creature stay hidden, which explains why Bownessie remains such a mystery.

However, reported sightings of our Windermere Nessie offer a much longer tale. Let’s take a look at the history of Bownessie sightings.

In 2006, journalism lecturer, Steve Burnip reported a “30ft creature with humps”.

“20ft ripples” were left behind by Bownessie, claimed Lakes TV director in 2009, about the Bownessie-sized disturbance of the water caught on video as he was filming for a Bownessie documentary.

“The length of three cars”, is the size of the mythical Bownessie, according to Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington who were out kayaking on Windermere in 2011 when they snapped what they thought was Bownessie.

“Five or six metres long in length”, according to local witness Colin Honour who recorded a sighting in 2012.

Of course, if we were going to report a legendary creature living in Lake Windermere, to give our tale more impact, we’d perhaps add a few feet onto its imaginary length too.

  1. Elusive Creature

Considering the reported large length of this mythical creature, it is rather surprising that The University of Lancaster who run echo sound surveys monthly on Lake Windermere have not found anything yet.

But, if you spot the mysterious Bownessie making a guest appearance during your holiday somewhere along the 11 mile Windermere Lake, do send us your snaps!

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