It is a ribbon lake formed in a glacial trough after the retreat of ice at the start of the current interglacial period.
It has been one of the country's most popular places for holidays and summer homes since the arrival of the Kendal and Windermere Railway's branch line in 1847.
Since this name could not have been current until the 12th century, the fact that the Old Norse genitive singular '-ar-' has been added to it, it would suggest that Old Norse was still a living language in the area at that time." Its name suggests it is a mere, a lake that is broad in relation to its depth, but despite the name this is not the case for Windermere, which in particular has a noticeable thermocline, distinguishing it from typical meres.
Until the 19th century, the term "lake" was, indeed, not much used by or known to the native inhabitants of the area, who referred to it as Windermere/Winandermere Water, or (in their dialect) Windermer Watter.
Intermediate stops are made at Bowness and, by smaller launches only, at Brockhole.
Some boats only operate part of the route, or operate out and back cruises, whilst others run the whole distance.
Windermere railway station is a hub for train and bus connections to the surrounding areas and is miles (2 km) from the Waterbus jetty.
Since 1907 the two places have been under one council and, although there are still two separate centres, the area between is largely built up, albeit bordering on woodland and open fields.The remaining islands are Bee Holme (the insular status of which depends on the water level), Blake Holme, Crow Holme, Birk or Birch Holme (called Fir Holme on Ordnance Survey maps), Grass Holme, Lilies of the Valley (East, and West), Ling Holme (a rocky hump with a few trees and a growth of ling), Hawes Holme, Hen Holme (also rocky and sometimes known as Chair and Table Island from some old flags or slabs of stone that were formerly found there), Maiden Holme (the smallest island, with just one tree), Ramp Holme (variously called Roger Holme and Berkshire Island at different times in its history), Rough Holme, Snake Holme, Thompson Holme (the second largest), Silver Holme.. The main fish in the lake are trout, char, pike, and perch.The north to south alignment of the lake, combined with its position between Morecambe Bay and the central fells, means that it forms a migration highway, with geese often seen in winter.The village of Windermere is about 20 minutes' walk from Millerground, the nearest point on the lakeshore.It did not exist before the arrival of the railway in 1847.