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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.

Grand Canyon of the North

One of the many reasons people visit the Eden Valley is for the peace and tranquility away from the crowded Lake District.  Whether walking or cycling you will find the lanes and footpaths much less trodden in this part of Cumbria.

The walking may not be quite so high, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular.  Probably the most famous example is the renowned High Cup Nick, nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the North of England with its magnificent bowl shape carved out of the Pennines by ancient glaziers. It’s also on the Pennine Way and is a wonderful sight after a long trudge across from Middleton in Teesdale, and signifies that a well earned pint at the Stag in Dufton is soon to be enjoyed.

However, the beauty of staying in Dufton is that the 4 mile walk to the Nick is easily accessible from Shepherds View without taking the car, as the route up to High Cup starts in the village.  It is a popular but not crowded walk, particularly in the summer, and it is well worth the effort as the view, which you only get near the end, is stunning.

As an alternative our favoured approach is from Murton, the next village on from Dufton.  You can park in the village car park and follow a well marked route up the edge of Murton Pike before eventually bursting out on to High Cup itself.  Returning back down the eastern shoulder the overall route is a lot easier and less trodden than the Pennine Way and you enjoy stunning views of High Cup and the Eden Valley seemingly for far longer.  Round trip of c.8 miles in less than 4 hours including plenty of time to rest and enjoy lunch and the views!

High Cup Nick

Perfect getaway holiday in the valley of Eden

Ask most holiday makers to point to Cumbria on a map and they will inevitably pick out the Lake District. But the Eden Valley? That’s another matter and much less well known, which is its great appeal.

The Eden Valley has all the green valley charm and the cutesy cottages of the Lakes, but without the main holiday detractor of hordes of people. It is also the ideal holiday destination to slow down the pace and explore locally, or a perfect base to make the short trip to the North Yorkshire moors or the North Lakes region. To those that have discovered this little known tranquil and peaceful paradise it is a favourite place visited time and again.

The Eden Valley takes its name from the River Eden that follows a meandering 80 mile route from its source at Mallerstang to the Solway near Carlisle, close to Wallsend and the end of Hadrians Wall. Along with dramatic scenery, pretty market towns persist with Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, and Penrith along the route. The Eden region includes the Pennines to its North and East, including an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is bordered by the Western Lakes fells, Ullswater and the Howgill fells to the South.

There is plenty to do and explore, many jewels to discover and memories to make. Take a relatively gentle (by Lake District standards) hike up High Cup Nick described as the ‘Grand Canyon of the North’ and featured by Julia Bradbury in her walking series. Search out some history – castles abound or visit one of the finest stone circles in the North, Long Meg and her daughters, or the Nine Standards Rigg, or even Shap Abbey. There are event venues like Rheged, Acorn Bank, Lowther Castle and Dalemain to visit, or let someone else take you on a trip on the Carlisle to Settle railway, or Classic Coaches tour or a cruise with Ullswater Steamers. Bring your bike and cycle along the quiet lanes of the Upper Eden – visit the chocolate factory at Orton – or simply find a coffee shop to while away some time and enjoy the Cumbrian Crack!

What about the weather, after all you are in Cumbria? In fact, due to its position surrounded by fells the Eden has a microclimate of its own. If its raining with you then it could still be dry 5 miles away, and it’s not unreasonable to chase the good weather. In truth, whilst Keswick averages 58 inches of rain a year, Penrith and Appleby match the same level of rainfall as Cornwall at around 36 inches!

As the Cumbrian’s say, why not take a ‘Deekabout’ at the Eden for yourself and find out what it has to offer – answers on a postcard!