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A lakeside 19th-century mansion with 30 acres of terraced gardens sloping down to the water, Brockhole serves as the park's official visitor center and has exhibits about the local ecology, flora, and fauna. Impressive aerial photography is good for orientation and inspiration, making it a good stop at the start of your visit. The gardens, designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Thomas Mawson, are at their best in spring, when daffodils cover the lawns and azaleas burst into bloom. There's an adventure playground, croquet field, miniature golf course, and rowboats for hire, and an aerial walkway and zipline through the trees are being added. The bookstore carries hiking guides and maps, and you can picnic here or eat at the café-restaurant. Bus 555/559 goes to the visitor center from Windermere. Boats from Waterhead stop at a pier constructed in 2011. Windermere Lake Cruises (www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk) has seasonal ferry service to Brockhole from Waterhead in Ambleside.
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