If you’re going to go ballooning, you may as well do it over one of the most striking corners of the country! From rolling green fields to brown/orange fells that are cut by steep crevices, to the captivating glistening of the abundant water, a balloon ride over the Lake District will ignite your imagination like very few other places can ever hope to do.
And where better than in the vicinity of England’s biggest lake, Lake Windermere! With balloons going aloft from Witherslack (at the Derby Arms Hotel), the scale of the beauty swiftly opens up before you as you climb high over ever changing landscapes.
No matter whether you choose a morning or evening flight, you can expect the eclectic scenery to be matched in drama by the changing light as the sun creeps higher, or fades slowly away for the day. With the breeze as your guide and the wind in your hair, embrace the sense of freedom for a magical experience that is like no other.
It is little surprise that England’s biggest lake, Lake Windermere (5.69 sq miles), has been used for transportation and trade, as well as being an important destination for strategic and leisure purposes.
A ferry service has operated on the lake since the 15th century, traversing the water at it narrowest point, between Bowness and Ferry House. This ferry transported people, woollen cloth, stone, minerals and charcoal and was in important logistic options for traders of the day. During the earliest period, when it was mainly people and animals aboard rowing boats, the passengers were expected to muck in and assist with the rowing!
Times change and in 1870 a ferry powered by underwater cables was introduced to the lake – a 20 minute crossing now handled by the Mallard ferry.
Lake Windermere has 18 islands, with the Belle Isle being the largest (0.6 miles) and the only one to have ever been inhabited. Formerly known as Longholm, the Roman governor of Ambleside built a villa on the island and in 1250, it served as the seat for the Lord of the Manor as well as serving as a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War.
Belle Isle House was built in 1774; consideration unusual in its design due to being circular, built of brick, and boasting three stories and a four column portico. The house and island were subsequently sold to the Curwen family who renamed the island after their daughter, Isabella. It would remain in the Curwen family until 1996, with decedents of Isabella living there until 1993.
By the onset of the 19th century, wealthy urban businessmen had started regarding the Lakes as a destination for retreat and tranquility. Nowadays it is a scenic escape for all many other people, including local and international tourists who come to soak up the beauty of the region. And the best way to do that? On a hot air balloon floating silently overhead of course!