Ullswater sunrise at Glenridding
Ullswater sunrise at Glenridding

Ullswater is one of the easiest lakes in the Lake District National Park to access, with the M6 at Penrith only a few minutes away. The lake stretches for 7.5 miles in a roughly southwesterly direction from Pooley Bridge in the north to Glenridding in the south. These two villages are linked by regular trips of the Ullswater Steamer.

The steamer, which is based at Glenridding, first began plying these waters in 1877, carrying mail, passengers, and freight up and down the lake. There are four boats; the Lady of the Lake has been in service since 1877, and she was joined in 1889 by Raven. More recent newcomers to the Ullswater run are the Lady Dorothy (2001) and Lady Wakefield (2007).

If you prefer dryland navigation, Ullswater boasts access to some of the most popular walks in the Lake District. The best base for walkers is the area around Glenridding, where well-signed routes lead up to Helvellyn. The benefit of coming from the Ullswater side, rather than the Thirlemere side of Helvellyn, is that you can cross the dramatic arrete known as Striding Edge, which leads to the summit of Helvellyn.

Aira Force
Aira Force

Halfway between Glenridding and Watermillock, on the western shore, is Aira Force, the most popular waterfall in the Lake District. Access to the falls is quite simple. Park in the National Trust parking area (fee payable for non-members) and follow the signposted circular route to the falls.

A short walk uphill from Aira Force leads to High Force falls, which is less crowded, though not as spectacular, as Aira Force. A short walk from the falls leads to Yew Crag, which gives excellent views across Ullswater to the east.

And if views are up your street, try Hallin Fell, on the eastern shore of Ullswater. Park at Howton church, and follow a steep but short path uphill to the summit of the Fell, for superb views up Ullswater or east into remote Martindale. If you fancy stretching your legs, the seven-mile walk along the eastern shore from Howton to Patterdale has been called the best lakeside walk in the National Park.

You will not be the first to admire the views around Ullswater; poet William Wordsworth was inspired by the scenery of Gowbarrow Park, near Aira Force, to write his most famous poem, Daffodils.

And finally, I would be remiss not to mention Dalemain. This delightful historic house and garden is located just a few miles northeast of Pooley Bridge. The core of the house at Dalemain is Elizabethan, with Georgian additions.

Dalemain has ben in the hands of the same family since 1679. Around the house are beautiful formal and informal gardens. We visited Dalemain as a family and both the younger and older generations enjoyed themselves immensely.

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About Ullswater
Address: Glenridding, Lake District, Cumbria, England
Attraction Type: Countryside - Lake
Location: Ullswater can be accessed from the M6, junction 40 at Penrith. The A592 runs down the western shore of the lake and allows access from Windermere and Ambleside to the south.
Location map
OS: NY445205
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Aira Force - 2.7 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

High Force Waterfall - 2.7 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Dacre, St Andrews Church - 3.9 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Dalemain - 4.4 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Brothers Water - 5.2 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Lowther Castle and Gardens - 5.3 miles (Historic House) Heritage Rating

Mayburgh Henge - 6.8 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

King Arthur's Round Table - 6.8 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

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