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Ullswater (Cumbria, England)
Member Name: anwar7
Ullswater (Cumbria, England)
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I am lucky enough to live within an hour's drive of Ullswater in the Cumbrian Lake District. It is somewhere our family visits often and a place we consider very special. To quote Wordsworth Ullswater is the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any any of the lakes affords. This review is not only about the lake itself but the surrounding area; I hope it will be useful for anyone taking a trip to the area.
Ullswater is the second longest lake in the Lake District. It is 9 miles long and 0.75 miles wide. At its deepest point Ullswater is 60 metres deep. Formed after the last ice age, Ullswater is said to have got its name from a Nordic chief Uif, who once ruled over the area. I love the way the lake is surrounding by mountain scenery and changes it's appearance depending on the weather. On a bright winters day, when there are few tourists, there is nothing as breathtaking as eating a picnic looking at the mountains reflected in the lake. The lake is a sort of elongated S shape with the small towns of Glenridding at the southern end, and Pooley Bridge at the northern end. Howtown is in the middle.
What is there to do?
If you like walking then there are both high level and low level walks around Ullswater. I am not a fan of high fell walking so tend to stick to low level walks. One of my favourite walks is from the small settlement of Patterdale to Howtown. Patterdale is about 1 mile south of the busy little town of Glenridding.Park just beyond the youth hostel and then walk back, turning left just past the youth hostel. The track passes through a farmyard and then strikes out around the lake. There are plenty of good rocks to sit and eat a picnic with wonderful views over the lake. The path takes you through a small wooded area and then up and over to Howtown. I have often seen red squirrels on this walk as well as red deer. It is a great walk for children as there are no dangerous drops. My children also enjoy the waterfalls you will pass on your way to Howtown. The walk is about 6 miles long and usually takes us about 4 hours with stops.
If you are visiting in high season then parking becomes a problem. Howtown is usually much less busy than Glenridding or Patterdale. There is a small car park just beyond the ferry pier. There are several good paths from Howtown and they tend to be less crowded. There is a lovely walk up to Martindale or you could head up the high street! The high street range is a high level walk with spectacular views.
If you want more thrills then Helvellyn is probably the climb for you! Head to Glenridding and choose one of the many routes up! The summit takes about 3 hours walking and scrambling form Glenridding. You really do need to take care on this mountain as every year there are serious accidents. To ensure a parking place in Glenridding, especially in high season you really do need to arrive before 10 am.
Both Glenridding and Pooley Bride are lovely little towns to explore. Both have a few shops and several nice tearooms. Pooley Bride is probably the more interesting in my opinion.
Ullswater is also a great place to enjoy watersports. In Glenridding there are several places where you can hire boats. I can recommend St Patrick's boat landing in Glenridding. There is also a windsurfing and sailing school in Glenridding.
If you like fishing then you will need to get a permit. These are available from either the tourist information centres in Glenridding or Pooley Bridge. Charles Skye sports in Penrith also sells fishing permits. Whilst on the subject of fish I should mention that Ullswater is home to the Skelly, a kind of freshwater herring.
If you fancy taking things easy then a trip on the famous Ullswater steamers might be for you. The steamers sail all year from Glenridding, Howtown and Pooley Bridge. You can choose to sail from one end of the lake and back or you could get of and walk back. Fares cost £22.90 for a return family ticket from Glenridding to Howtown, or £5.20 for an adult single and 32.60 for a child fare. My children love to catch the steamer back after a long walk. For more information and timetable visit the steamer web site at www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk or call 017684-82229. The trip is great fun!
My children love pony trekking and I can recommend Park Foot stables near Pooley Bridge. To book telephone 017684-86696.They cater for all abilities and are very friendly!
At this point I think I should warn you not to be tempted to swim in the lake. On a hot summers day the lake from the many little beach areas can look very tempting. However the lake has sudden deep drops and the water is freezing cold!
Mountain biking is possible but is only allowed on specific paths. Many of the paths around the lake are dangerous for biking .The walk from Patterdale to Howtown for example, passes through private land and cycling is forbidden. I suggest you check with the tourist information centres for details of cycling routes.
Between the towns of Pooley Bridge and Glenridding is Aira Force, a spectacular waterfall now owned by the National trust. Although well worth a look the place gets ridiculously crowed in the summer months. If you can try to visit out of season!
Unfortunately the Lake District is not the driest place on the planet. On a wet day I recommend a visit to Rheged just on the outskirts of Penrith, 4 miles from Pooley Bridge. Rheged is a sort of activities centre. There is a giant cinema showing 5 films every day. My children love the dinosaurs and Vikings! There is a café and shop as well as an adventure playground. It is a good place to keep the kids entertained!
You could always take a visit to Hilltop the once home of Beatrix Potter (separate review) Hill Top is situated in the tiny hamlet of Near Sawry.
Getting to Ullswater.
I am not going to give lots of directions for those coming by car as you can as there is the A route finder of a plain old fashioned map for that! But I will say Ullswater is easy to get to, being just 5 miles from junction 40 on the M6 motorway.
It is possible to visit using public transport. There is train station in Penrith. From Penrith the 108 runs to Patterdale about every hour. From Keswick you will need to take the number 208 bus.
There are numerous bike shops in the area if you fancy cycling but be aware the road along the lake is narrow and there is no designated cycling path.
As I have said parking can be a problem in both Glenridding and Pooley Bridge. If you are visiting in the summer then I suggest you either arrive early or try Howtown.
I have only ever stayed in privately owned houses in the Lake District so can't give any personnel recommendations. However there are plenty of places to stay in the area and I suggest you contact the local tourist information centres for help. There are several campsites in the area.
We always pack a picnic when we visit Ullswater but there are lots of cafes and restaurants in the area from the very basic to haute cuisine. You really will be spoilt for choice!
As you will have guessed I really love Ullswater. If you can, then I suggest you try to visit out of season when things are a lot quieter. It really is a very special place!
Summary: Ullswater-Lake District Cumbria