Newest Review: ... walk back along the lake shore should expect to pay around £5.50 per adult and £2.75 per child, or if you would rather buy a return route... more
Cross the lake is style with the Ullswater Steamers
Ullswater Steamers (England)
Member Name: silverbird44
Ullswater Steamers (England)
Advantages: Beautiful scenery, beautiful boats
Disadvantages: Confusing timetabling and can be very cold!
Mountains are not what you would describe as a specialist interest. There are very few people in the world who do not enjoy the beautiful scenery that the mountain landscape provides - but there are many who are unwilling or unable to trek for miles in order to experience it. There is a lot to be said, therefore, for a service such as the Ullswater Steamers that allows people of every age and fitness to see mountain scenery at its best.
What are the Ullswater Steamers?
The Ullswater steamers currently consist of four boats:
- Lady of the Lake, first launched in 1877.
- Raven, first launched in 1889.
- Lady Dorothy, launched in 2001.
- Lady Wakefield, launched in 2007.
These beautiful boats can be seen traversing Ullswater most days, weather permitting, joining the village of Glenridding at the southern end to Pooley Bridge in the north and the hamlet of Howtown halfway up the shore between the two. Each boat is equipped with seating and a licensed bar.
Pricing and Timetables
The pricing of a trip varies depending on your chosen route and the age of the people in your party. Those looking to take the boat from Howtown to Glenridding or vice versa and walk back along the lake shore should expect to pay around £5.50 per adult and £2.75 per child, or if you would rather buy a return route and take the steamer both ways prices are £8.80 for adults and £4.40 for children.
For those looking to enjoy more time on the water, 'Freedom of the Lake Passes' can be purchased at £12.00 for adults and £6.00 for children. Family tickets are also available, priced at £29.50 for the Freedom of the Lake or £24.00 for a return between Glenridding/Pooley Bridge and Howtown.
The timetables for the steamers are some of the greatest logic puzzles I have ever encountered - availability varies depending on day of the week and season of the year. Generally there will be boats throughout the day during the Summer holidays, but it is best to check the website in advance - http://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/timetablefares .shtml
Also bear in mind that given the surrounding landscape, Ullswater's weather does tend towards the erratic and if you are at all in doubt then phone and check before departing (017684 82229). The steamers often run in heavy rain, but because of the size of the lake, strong wind can result in swells and this can lead to the steamers being cancelled. However, in fifteen years of relying on the steamers while walking I have never been let down.
Tickets can be bought from the visitor centres by the jetties at Glenridding and Pooley Bridge, and on the boats from Howtown pier. Trips last half an hour upwards, depending on your preference.
How to get there
The best parking for the steamers is available at Glenridding and Pooley Bridge, so I would suggest aiming for the visitor centres at these piers. Howtown has no amenities except a rain shelter and extremely limited parking. I'm afraid that as a non-driver I can't help much with directions, but both Glenridding and Pooley Bridge are large enough to locate on any sat nav or routefinder.
The first huge plus point for the steamers is the scenery. Ullswater is one of lakeland's most beautiful lakes, surrounded by some of her loftiest peaks, and it is a joy to sit outside on one of the steamers and watch them all scroll by. The second is the boats themselves, particularly Lady of the Lake and Raven. The red funnel and green and white sidings have become one of the trademarks of the Ullswater landscape. Thirdly, pricing is relatively cheap for a Lake District tourist attraction such as this.
The only major problem is the complexity of the timetables, mentioned above, and some occasional unpredictability. A personal quibble is that I would always prefer to sit outside, but some of the new boats do not have outside seating. Still, I'm sure that this is just my own taste - many passengers will be grateful to be surrounded by walls when the Ullswater wind is whistling across the lake! Visitors should remember to wrap up warm if considering a ride on the steamer.
I would recommend the steamers as an experience to pretty much everyone. The lake walk along the eastern shore means that the steamer can be used to create a memorable day hike, while those more interested in sightseeing, photography, birdwatching etc will find plenty to catch their attention. Children will also adore the boats and being able to see the lake from this angle. My only suggestion would be that this might not be the best trip for very young babies. The boats are not large, they are quite noisy and they can get very cold - not so much that it would bother an adult, but enough for a tired child. Otherwise, everyone should grab their rain coats to keep the wind out and pile on board!
Summary: Very much worth doing - just remember to wrap up warm!
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