Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Interesting Islands

Several of the Lakeland lakes have islands. As I’m concentrating on the southern half of the area, here’s a brief look at the islands in Windermere, Grasmere and Coniston Water.
Windermere is the largest lake, about ten miles long, and it has eighteen islands. The largest of these is Belle Isle which is about two-thirds of a mile long. It was originally known as Long Holme and it’s said that the governor of the Roman fort at Ambleside had a villa on the island. In the 18th century, the wealthy Curwen family bought the island and it was re-named Belle Isle after their daughter Isabella. In 1774, they built ‘Belle Island House’, which was unusual as it was a circular shape, with 3 floors and a portico with 4 pillars. Wordsworth was pretty disparaging about it, saying it looked like a tea canister in a shop window! Isabella’s descendants lived on the island until 1993, and it is still privately owned.

The other islands on Windermere are much smaller, and are all called ‘holme’ from the Norse word ‘holm’ (meaning island). Maiden Holme is the smallest, consisting of a single tree!

Grasmere has only one lake, known simply (and fairly unimaginatively) as ‘The Island’. Evidently Wordsworth used to row across to this island and one of his sonnets is about the tranquillity he found here.
The largest island on Coniston Water is Peel Island, which is owned by the National Trust. This is thought to be the fictional Wild Cat Island where the children camped in the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome. This photo shows their 'secret harbour'. The other two Coniston islands are Oak Island and Fir Island, although the latter only deserves the name island when the water is very high and cuts it off from the shore.


  1. Simply gorgeous, the more I read the more I want to read one of your books :)

  2. Another great post, Paula. When you get to Z, you should think of putting all these articles into a little travel guide to the Lakes and put it on Amazon (seriously)!

  3. You had me at "Windermere"...
    Beautiful name, beautiful place.

  4. I love lakes and Islands!! Oh the pictures are so inviting :)

    Cheers, Jenn

  5. Claudia - thanks, and there are still 17 more letters to go!

    Rosemary - think I'd have to do a lot more research first!

    Thanks, Carla.

    Amy - will be writing mroe about Windermere when I get to W.

    Jenn - all the lakes are beautiful :-)

  6. Wordsworth, schmordsworth - I like the tea canister house! (Even if it might be difficult figuring out where to put the sofa.)

  7. I didn't realise there were lake islands in the UK! I want to visit these now!

    J.C. Martin
    A to Z Blogger

  8. How fascinating that the lakes have islands and many of them!!!


  9. Ohmigawsh! More beautiful, unknown to me until this exact moment, places. I want to step into your photos and wander for a bit.

    Thank you for taking me along to such Isles of Wonder.....

    Julie Jordan Scott
    Fellow A to Z Challenge Writer
    twitter: @juliejordanscot
    I is for Ina Coolbrith
    On a Mission to Spread Word-Love Throughout the World

  10. Beverley - it was probably too 'modern' for Wordsworth, or else he didn't think it fitted with the 'traditional' Lakeland architecture.

    J.C. and Kathy - They're only very small islands, you know!

    Julie - lots more to follow, for you to wander around and enjoy!

  11. Those look like such lovely places to be.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  12. Paula, I just love the setting to your books! I agree with Claudia, I think I need to read your book! I love this time period.

  13. I love that little spot in your last picture!