Lake District Love Letters #5: Ullswater

Today’s Love Letter is written in honour of the Lake District’s second longest lake, Ullswater. Situated in the east of the National Park, below the mighty slopes of the Helvellyn massif, it offers a world of wonder to the walker. It is 9 miles (14 km) long and 0.75 miles (1 km) wide, with a maximum depth of around 197 ft (60 m).

Poetic Inspiration

Glencoyne Park on the western shore of Ullswater provided Wordsworth with the inspiration for his most famous poem, ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.’ However, today I would prefer to explore the quieter eastern shore, taking a walk which Wainwright described as ‘the most beautiful and rewarding in Lakeland.’ But first for some practicalities…

Exploring the lake and its surroundings

Lake and mountain
The lower slopes of Arthur’s Pike meet the lakeshore

There are three villages situated along the lakeshore, Pooley Bridge at the north end, Glenridding in the southwest, and Patterdale at the southern end of the lake. Ullswater is served by a ferry service (Ullswater ‘Steamers‘ – no longer a steam-powered service) which links Glenridding with Pooley Bridge via the walker’s haven of Howtown. There is also a ferry shuttle service between Glenridding and the beautiful Aira Force waterfall. The western shore of the lake between Pooley Bridge and Patterdale is served by a regular bus service in summer, the 508, which starts in the nearby market town of Penrith. In each village you will find tea shops, hotels and inns for all of your refreshment and accommodation needs. There is also a wonderful lakeshore campsite at Side Farm in Patterdale.

Howtown-Patterdale Walk

South end of Ullswater
Bracken-clad hillside meets the lakeshore

As I mentioned above, the famous hiker A. Wainwright describes the following walk as one of his favourites. It is a lakeshore walk, but not without its challenges. It is around 8 miles in total, and passes through some rugged landscape, so hiking boots are recommended. It follows the eastern shore of the Lake, which is quiet and serene. There are no facilities between the start and end point of the walk, so bring enough food and drink to sustain you over the outing (around 3 hours).

Take the ‘steamer’ service from Glenridding to Howtown, for a chance to appreciate the lake from a new perspective. I was sad to see it full of algal blooms on my most recent visit: yet more evidence that we are neglecting the environment we profess to love.

There is a delightful Walker’s Bar in the Howtown Hotel close to the pier, but I don’t recommend spending too long here with the challenging walk that lies ahead.

Wood, Ullswater
Hallinhag wood
  • The first leg of the journey skirts the base of Hallin Fell through enchanting mixed woodland (Hallinhag wood) to the bay of Sandwick. There are some interesting geological features along the way, as well as stunning views of the north end of the lake.
  • The path from this point rises and falls periodically for several gruelling miles, to reach the lookout at the base of Low Birk Fell, where the southern end of the lake comes into view for the first time. This rocky outcrop makes for a great picnic spot.
  • The next objective is the bracken-clad promontory of Silver Point (which looks more like ‘Copper Point’ in Autumn), after which you pass aching-footed alongside Side Farm to eventually cross farmland into the village of Patterdale, where a hearty meal awaits you in the White Lion Inn. If you’re too tired to walk the remaining mile back to Glenridding, you can always take the bus!
Sunset on mountain
Sunset over Place Fell above Side Farm

Stay tuned for more!

I hope you enjoyed this Lake District Love Letter. There will certainly be more as I spend time in my native Cumbria. You can find more of my images from Ullswater on Instagram. I don’t plan on posting over weekends for the time being, as I prepare the business side of EIF, and spend some valuable time with my family, as we go through yet another set of changes.

Do bear with me if it takes longer than usual to read and comment: I am still here, just juggling all of those challenges which life tends to send our way, one way or another…

46 thoughts on “Lake District Love Letters #5: Ullswater

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      1. exactly. I seem to remember one of my first big hangovers in that area, too, after sampling the single malts at the Kirkstone Inn aged about 16. Whisky was always deadly.

  1. I’ve spent some time tramping around the lakes district, your photos are amazing! I had drizzly to heavy rain all the time so this is a very different perspective for me πŸ™‚

      1. nice to know the sun does come out … I often claim the UK tv shows have their teams ready to roll on the six days the sun appears πŸ™‚

  2. oh burr all looks beautiful and serene in the pics but I can imagine how cold.. but you just earned such brownie points with your kids Ingrid. πŸ’–πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£

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