The Lake District has often been described in a catalogue of adjectives – by everyone from famous literary figures like William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter to, well, people like me. Wordsworth prescribed it the ‘loveliest spot that man hath found’ and Potter declared ‘not even Hitler can damage the Fells’. My verdict – quite simply – it is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
The Lake District is a National Park in the north of England, covering most of the county of Cumbria. It’s known for its ‘lakes’ (though it actually only has 1 – most of the bodies of waters are tarns or meres), its peaks, its stunning landscapes and glorious vistas. You could easily spend months in this area and only scratch the surface, so with only a week we could cover just a little. But it was enough to fall in love with this incredible part of England, and one I will most definitely return to.
There are many ‘lakes’ in the Lake District – we stayed at one of the most popular, Windermere (post coming soon), but did day trips throughout the region to discover further afield. One such day trip was to Ullswater in the north east of the area which was the perfect place to spend a full day.
What to do around Ullswater
1. Take a stroll around the shore
Start off early to beat the crowds, and start taking in Ullswater by foot. The Ullswater Way runs for 2o miles around the shore of the lake and is perfect if you’re not wanting to do lots of hard climbing (more of that later). You don’t have to walk the whole thing either – you could walk a section and then return by bus, or return by boat with multiple boat pick up/drop off points around the lake.
One of the most popular things to do is take an Ullswater steamer boat from Glenridding to Howtown and then walk back from there. We actually chose to walk for an hour along the shore from Glenridding, and then just walk back again in land to see some of the little villages in the area.
2. Cruise on an Ullswater Steamer
The ‘steamers’ as they are affectionately known were initially built in the 1880s for use on the lake transporting cargo, animals and people. Nowadays they have been restored, run on diesel (not steam anymore!) and provide tours to people around Ullswater. There are pick off/drop off points at Glenridding, Howtown, Pooley Bridge and Aira Force. We chose to go round the lake in totality to just enjoy the views and sunshine.
3. Enjoy Glenridding, including the Inn on the Lake
Glenridding is a lovely little area and makes the perfect place to stop for elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner depending on your day. We ended up here for lunch and headed to the Inn on the Lake. The garden views are unrivalled, and the food was 10/10 delicious.
4. Aira Force
After lunch, we headed to The National Trust site of Aira Force is home to a lovely waterfall, lots of varied woodland walking trails and beautiful cascades at the source of the waterfall. There’s plenty of parking on site, but again you could get a ‘steamer’ to the site and then return to Glenridding on foot. We walked a 3km route from the car park to the waterfall, to the high cascades and back again.
5. Patterdale and Arnison Crag
We saved the best until last on our visit to Ullswater. I knew I wanted sweeping views out over the lake, not just to walk around it, so for the final flurry of the day, we hiked up Arnison Crag. Arnison Crag is a ‘fell’ (basically a mountain) with a 900ft ascent to reach the top, including steep walking paths and a bit of a scramble to reach the top.
There are other options for walking and views in the area. The highest and most famous peak in the area is Hevellyn but you really need to be fit and have the whole day to hike this mountain. Alternatively, you could choose to do the much, much easier Silver Point Walk which includes views down to Ullswater. Or you could do something like Angle Tarn which is a moderate walk and also provides lovely views.
Arnison Crag was spectacular. The climb was hard, but as the distance was only 3km – directly up and down – it didn’t feel too bad. In total, including a lot of photo stops, we completed the walk in just under 2 hours. The route we followed is HERE. We ended the walk in Patterdale, at a pub, for a well earned drink before heading back to Windermere.
After such a busy day I was absolutely exhausted and collapsed in to my hotel hottub to rest my weary legs….before getting ready to walk again the next day!
Thank you so much for reading; I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour of Ullswater. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone!