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Exploring Ullswater and the Surrounding Area

It may not have the size of Windermere but Ullswater, as the second largest lake in the Lake District, could be said to have much more to recommend it.  Surrounded by stunning mountain scenery it’s 7.5 mile length makes it much more compact, meaning that with a little footwork it isn’t difficult to get magnificent views through gaining some height.  Not that walking is the only way of getting great pictures.  There are several key stopping off points including the villages of Glenridding in the South, Aira Force, and Pooley Bridge in the North, and there is no better way to see the lake than by being on it with the various options on offer.

Pooley Bridge

At the northern tip of the Lake, Pooley Bridge is only 25 minutes drive time from Shepherds View, making it a great day out without having to venture too far into the busy Lakes.  For many this is the starting point of any Ullswater adventure and there are good options for food and drink dining out in the village.  Highly recommended is a visit to Chestnut House, oUllswater Steamerspen 7 days a week, which is an eclectic food and drink emporium, specialising in all things Cumbrian, but also carrying over 400 gins, whiskies, rums etc. – in fact something for every taste.

Pooley Bridge is also the main starting point for Ullswater Steamers, which is an award winning Lake District attraction with over 160 years of operating cruises across the Lake.  Here you can choose to connect to some of the most iconic walking routes in the Lake District or simply enjoy the view across the Lake as you sail to Glenridding and back.

If you are looking for a more personal lake experience then by heading down to the shore-line you will find Lakeland Boat Hire, who rent out a range of motor boats, rowing boats and Canadian canoes – no experience necessary.  Similarly, based at Another Place Hotel, Ullswater Paddleboarding offer lessons, adventure tours and board hire for those looking to get really close to the water!

Aira Force

The main road from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding skirts around the western shore of the lake.  No visit to Ullswater would be complete without a visit to the most famous of Lake District waterfalls at Aira Force.  Owned by the National Trust the site offers a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park and arboretum, which was begun in 1846.  There is a lovely circular walk through this woodland, but the beauty of this place is that it is especially great to visit when it is raining as you will see the waterfall at its best!  William Wordsworth is also supposed to have written his most famous poem ‘Daffodils’ after a walk along this part of Ullswater.

 

Walks

There are many lovely walks across the Ullswater area, but 2 of our favourites are at Hallin Fell and along the Ullswater Way.

Hallin Fell lies just above Howtown on the eastern edges of Ullswater.  Parking is limited, but getting there early enough allows you to park at St.Peter’s Church, although you could come by steamer.  The walk then takes you down to the shore in an anti-clockwise direction, before ascending back around to the top of the fell for glorious views across the lake and to the surrounding fells.

The Ullswater Way is a 20 mile route around the lake and has various stopping off points for bus and boat so that you don’t have to do it all in one go if you don’t have the appetite.  Our recommendation would be to walk along the Howtown to Glenridding section, which is roughly 7 miles, with stunning views of the lake and fells along the way.  Depending on where you park you will need to use the steamer for one half of your trip – our recommendation would be to use the steamer first so that you are walking back to your car without any timetable deadlines!

Glenridding

At the southern end of Ullswater the village of Glenridding is a popular starting off point for walkers going up England’s third highest mountain Helvellyn.  However, if you are looking for a more sedate experience then you can browse the shops and even visit the 2 rosette Inn on the Lake Hotel for afternoon tea or drinks in its grounds.  Similar to Pooley Bridge this is a stopping off point for the Steamer and you can also hire boats from St.Patrick’s Boat Landing.

National (Trust) Treasures

On 12 January 2020 The National Trust celebrates 125 years of protecting and caring for special places across the UK. Beatrix Potter was a great supporter and needless to say Cumbria has its share of beautiful places to visit with whole areas of the landscape in the ownership of the Trust. Here is a selection of some of those that are close by to Shepherds View.

Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby – CA10 1SP – 7.5 miles – 15 mins
Only a short drive from Shepherds View along quiet country roads to avoid the A66. Best known for its comprehensive herb collection and traditional fruit orchards, Acorn Bank is a tranquil haven with a fascinating industrial past. You can discover more about the history of gypsum mining on the estate or wander along the Crowdundle Beck. In the house you can book on to a free daily guided tour. Open through the year but check specific times.

Aira Force, Watermillock – CA11 0JS – 22 miles – 35 mins
Ullswater and Pooley Bridge are great places to visit in themselves and Aira Force is one of many jewels in the crown of this beautiful lake. There is more here than just an impressive waterfall, as there are a network of trails from the lakeshore to the top of Gowbarrow summit, and fabulous views across Ullswater. You don’t even have to arrive by car as Ullswater steamers has a pier here. It’s also a great rainy day visit as the site is beneath the woodland canopy and the falls become even more impressive with more water! Open Dawn to Dusk for the countryside – check times for the tea-room.

Sizergh, Kendal – LA8 8DZ – 36 miles – 50 mins
Taking a trip to Kendal will take you a lovely scenic route over Orton Fell and past the towering Howgills. Sizergh is an imposing medieval house at the gateway to the Lake District with rich gardens and estate. The House closes for the winter, but the park and gardens including the café remain open, so do check on opening times before setting out. There are also a series of events on through the year.

Allan Bank and Grasmere – LA22 9QB – 38 miles – 1 hour
Head toward Keswick and then on to Grasmere is an inspiring drive as you start to see the full majesty of the Lake District. Allan Bank house is set on a hill with views over Grasmere lake and fells where Wordsworth once found inspiration. There are plenty of walks around the area, and red squirrels in the grounds. The welcoming village of Grasmere is a short 10 minute walk away. Check opening times as the house operates winter and summer opening times.

Townend, Troutbeck – LA23 1LB – 41 miles – 1 hour 5 mins
Either on from Grasmere or up and over the Kirkstone pass from Ullswater. This is a traditional Lake District stone and slate farmhouse but full of quirky objects and fascinating stories of more than 400 years of history. Beatrix Potter described the Troutbeck Valley as her favourite. Open Wed to Sun (March to October) from 1-4pm with guided tours at 11am and 12 noon on FCFS basis. Garden open every day from 10am

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Hexham – NE47 7BP – 38 miles – 1 hour 15 mins (via A686)
The A686 to Alston up Hartside Pass is a fabulous route to take to Allen Banks, with magnificent views across the Solway Firth at the peak of the climb. At Allen Banks itself you will find beautiful walking at any time of the year through woodland and following the course of the River Allen. The area is particularly well known for its carpet of bluebells in spring, and home to over 70 species of bird and the occasional red squirrel. Well worth the trip out as the area is within the North Pennine AONB. Open dawn to dusk with pay and display parking.

Hadrian’s Wall and Housesteads Fort, Hexham – NE47 6NN – 57miles – 1 hour 12 (via A69)
Only a short distance further on than Allen Banks is this renowned UNESCO World Heritage site. The quickest route is via the M6 and A69 but do take the A686 one of the ways. With breathtaking landscapes choose from invigorating walks along the wall or discover the archaeological past amongst the remain of the Fort. Hadrian’s wall is open all day, but check times daily for the fort.