“Enjoy a touch of paradise on the most beautiful of England’s many lakes”
For anyone visiting the Lake District who has not visited the area near Ullswater I would say do it and do it soon. Ullswater is the loveliest lake in the Lake District, the shores particularly on the far side are unsurpassed and the mountains that loom over the water are just what I like best. Place Fell, Gowbarrow and Hallin Fell typify the ruggedness of the Lakeland fells; rocky outcrops, grassy hollows and bracken strewn slopes are attractive at any time of the year. The lake itself is a mecca for non-motorised watersport enthusiasts and some beautiful steamers plough their furrow between Glenridding, Howtown and Pooley Bridge. In addition Ullswater provides the best access to Helvellyn, deservedly the most popular summit in all Lakeland and a conquest, particularly over the ridge of Striding Edge, which is fair to boast about. Ullswater is officially classed as being in the Eden Valley with access from the M6 meaning that there is no easier spot to access true Lakeland country. I have therefore included Penrith in the description of the area.
The next valley to the south of Ullswater is Haweswater which is accessed from Shap on the M6. I have included Haweswater within the Ullswater area because the two valleys enclose some of the best walking terrain in the Lake District. This area Wainwright described as the Far Eastern Fells and I would say the High Street range has some of the easiest walking around – moving from fell to fell rarely involves too much climbing and the paths are excellent – it is like walking on top of the world with the views stretched out around you – great to walk on. Haweswater itself is a large reservoir built in the 1950s with next to no places to stay – a lonely place where only eagles find a home.
Staying anywhere near Ullswater is a pleasure. The 3 main towns are Pooley Bridge at the eastern end of the lake and Glenridding and Patterdale to the western end. Pooley Bridge is especially lovely with the arched bridge over the river providing a backdrop worthy of the lake. There are a few shops including a general store and a popular pub next to the bridge. Generally accommodation is provided by the camp sites that spread along the south eastern shores but there is also plenty of bed and breakfast and cottage accommodation in the village. Glenridding and Patterdale lie at the south western end of the lake with all good routes to Helvellyn starting from them. Glenridding faces the lake more than Patterdale and it is where the beach and water sports are centred whilst Patterdale faces up the valley towards Brothers Water and the endless array of peaks that mark this walkers’ paradise. Glenridding has shops and pubs whilst Patterdale is really just a large hotel and a youth hostel. They are both though top notch places to enjoy a holiday in the Lake District.
Penrith and Shap are large towns on the outskirts of the Lake District but for anyone wishing to vary their holiday by exploring more of the Eden Valley they offer good bases and plenty of facilities. Indeed Shap is underrated as a base and is suitable for anyone exploring Haweswater whilst Penrith offers quick access in to the heart of the Lake District. Smaller hamlets and individual hotels and houses litter the banks of Ullswater but I would add a quick word for 2 of these. If anyone is offered the opportunity to stay on the south eastern shores of Ullswater in Martindale/Sandwick or near Howtown grab it – the other side of Ullswater is one of the best, largely undiscovered areas of the Lake District to visit.
My favourite walks in the Ullswater area are detailed below, click on the link for full walk details.
Helvellyn by the Edges. This very popular fell of over 3,000 foot is best climbed via Striding and Swirrel Edges.
Ridges over Dovedale. Quieter ridges sneak up high between some of the Lakeland giants.
Back of Ullswater. A lovely 7 mile lakeside path leads from Howtown to Glenridding. Add the steamer for a great day out.
Angletarn Pikes. A cracking walk over this craggy double summit and round a beautiful tarn from Brothers Water.
Fistful of Dodds. Enjoy lovely panoramic views from the soft turf of the northern Helvellyn ridge as the crowds congregate only a few miles away.
Gowbarrow via Aira Force. A lovely Lakeland fell reached via the most famous waterfalls in the Lake District.
High Street Ridge Walking. A 13 mile walk on the old Roman road before a return along the banks of Haweswater.
Kirkstone Pass to Threlkeld. 18 miles traversing the Lakes south to north along the Helvellyn ridge.
Haweswater in Drought. A full circuit of the reservoir from the dam wall at Burnbanks.
Airy Martindale Round. From Howtown this 9 miles take in some wonderful walking and unusual views of the Ullswater area
Place Fell. An exceptional 2,000 foot fell perched perfectly for views both up and down Ullswater.
Hayeswater & Angle Tarn. A lovely high level circuit around Hayeswater from the pretty village of Hartsopp.
Hallin Fell, Howtown. It is well worth exploring this fell which may be small but full of interest with exceptional views.
Askham & the Lowther Valley from Pooley Bridge.Interesting contrasts of scenery on the fringes of Lakeland.
Dacre & Dalemain. A 3 mile walk at the east end of Ullswater through pretty villages and countryside
Loadpot Hill from Howtown Explore the north end of the long High Street ridge
Martindale & Beda Head. An unspoilt corner of the Lakes and a glorious valley leading in to the Far Eastern Fells
Little known Swindale. South of Haweswater there is some lovely walking in beautiful and untouched valleys.
Other Things to do in Ullswater and the Surrounding Area
Ullswater steamers. Boats of character steam up and down the lake. A single costs £5.80 from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge.
Sail and Canoe hire. Hire and tuition is available in Glenridding enabling the lake to be fully explored.
Ullswater Information. The official site of everything to see and do in the Ullswater area.
Rheged. A wet day near Penrith is well spent at Rheged with Imax films, character shops and travelling exhibitions.
Wetheriggs Pottery. A slightly bizarre artisans’ centre with pottery and farm for the children is a decent 1/2 day out.
Drowning of Mardale. An excellent account of the history of the drowned village of Mardale under Haweswater.
Brothers Water and other scenic walks for the elderly
Updated Weather Forecast
Click here to go to the Met Office website for a 5 day weather forecast for the Ullswater area.