Many consider Ullswater to be the hidden gem of the Lake District and as the most beautiful of the English Lakes. It is pure and tranquil and relatively unspoilt by the tourism and commercialism that blights many other Lake District towns.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District, approximately 9 miles long, ¾ of a mile wide and nearly 200 feet deep. It was formed after the last ice age when a glacier scooped out the valley floor then filled with meltwater when the glacier retreated.
You’ll not find high street shops in the Ullswater Valley, or rows of trendy bars, but quaint villages, welcoming pubs and stunning scenery. From Pooley Bridge at one end, to Glenridding at the other there are a scattering of lovely villages that attract visitors from all over the world.
The ‘jewel’ of Eden
The area is very popular with fell walkers exploring some of Wainwright’s most loved mountains such as Hellvellyn and its breath taking Striding Edge. A visit to the National Trust’s, Aira Force waterfalls offers another stunning adventure, whilst a trip on the Ullswater Steamer offers something for all the family…topped off with an ice cream to finish!
Ullswater is very popular as a sailing destination, with several sailing marinas situated around the lake. The prestigious Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy is held annually on the first weekend in July. There are also facilities for diving, rowing and motorboats as well as canoeing for those more adventurous. Ullswater was the home of the world water speed record on July 23, 1955, when Donald Campbell piloted the jet-propelled hydroplane “Bluebird K7” to a speed of 202.32 mph (325.53 km/h).
We could not mention Ullswater without mentioning William Wordsworth, who was inspired to write the poem “Daffodils” after seeing daffodils growing on the shores of Ullswater. As well as many beautiful daffodils and a plethora of other stunning flora and fauna, Ullswater offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK.
The northern approaches from Stainton and Sockbridge pass through the ancient parishes of Dacre and Barton to converge at Pooley Bridge. From here the main road hugs the western side of the lake to Glenridding, continuing through Patterdale and Hartsop, and ultimately ascending the steep pass to Kirkstone.
The eastern route ventures to Howtown (one of the landing stages for the Ullswater Steamers) and Sandwick. Here, the bulwarks of Hallin Fell and Birk Fell dictate the lake’s dog-leg shape and hide the secluded valleys of Martindale, Boredale and Bannerdale.