There is nothing quite like a weekend in the Lake District and for me, each visit always feels like the first. With the title England’s prettiest lake, Ullswater does not disappoint.
Situated in the north east of the District, it is the second largest lake, nine miles long and three-quarter’s of a mile wide. The Ullswater Valley has it all; from walking routes, boat rides, cycling, pony-trekking and camping to exploring inspiring scenery, there is something to suit everyone. For experienced climbers, Ullswater is ideal as it lies at the foot of one of England’s highest mountains, Hellvellyn, or for those that enjoy less strenuous pursuits, the woodlands and easy routes that surround the lake are a perfect option.
Travelling with my ten-year-old niece means we have to be slightly more mindful when it comes to choosing a walking route that is right for us. The Ullswater Way is a 20-mile walking route around the lake and offers various treks suitable for all levels. You can pick and choose where to start and to make life a little easier, catch the open top bus or a steamer to help you along your way. We walked the Lower Route from Pooley Bridge to Howtown, meeting the Higher Route just past Barton Fell, a spot that guarantees magnificent views of the lake and its windy ‘z’ shaped path that leads to Glenridding.
After a good two and a half hour walk we reached Howtown where we stopped for a well earned break to enjoy some tea and cake at Howtown Hotel. From here we booked a ticket for the Ullswater Steamer to take us back to Pooley Bridge. The walk and boat ride took the best part of four hours, done at a gentle pace with snacks in between. We plan to return to Ullswater to visit the almighty Glenridding and the waterfalls at Aira Force.
Where to stay:
We stayed at the Rampsbeck Hotel. The hotel is an 18th Century house set in an idyllic spot on the shore of Ullswater Lake with prices starting from £129. The staffs are friendly and the hotel a beautiful old fashioned classic house with plenty of room to find a comfy fire-side sofa (dreamy in winter) to plan activities, play a game of Scrabble, dig into a delicious afternoon tea or enjoy a glass of wine from the plentiful menu. We enjoyed the breakfast menu offering fresh fish caught from local lakes and tasty pastries. The bar menu is varied and serves both lunch and dinner, with the option to dine in the evening from the A la carte menu, price starts from £50 per head for three courses.
The gardens at the hotel are divine, I spent hours sitting and enjoying the view out on to the lake and meandering around the sculptured garden wondering what it must have been like many moons ago. In 1804, famous poet William Wordsworth composed the famous poem Daffodils, inspired by his wife Dorothy from her diary entry about a stormy day out walking by Ullswater.
Local Town Pooley Bridge:
Head to local town Pooley Bridge to get all your holiday nit-bits and enjoy a hearty meal at one of the public houses. The Pooley Bridge Inn is a classic old English pub with a great sized front and rear garden, the perfect spot for an after walk tipple.
Tip: Visit the information kiosk by the public water closet’s, the staff there will provide invaluable knowledge of the local area, with maps available.
The gardens at the hotel are divine, I spent hours sitting and enjoying the view out on to the lake and meandering around the sculptured garden wondering what it must have been like many moons ago. In 1804, famous poet William Wordsworth composed the famous poem Daffodils, inspired by his wife Dorothy from her diary entry about a stormy day when they were out walking by Ullswater. Magical…..
There are not a great deal of places to swim in Ullswater, the best spot would be Kailpot Crag. Check out Wild Swimming recommendations if you’re keen to know more about places to swim in the Lake District.
Virgin Trains from London Kings Cross to Penrith North Lakes takes three hours and can cost anything from £25 if you catch the early bird, if not, prices start from £45 and upwards. I booked my ticket late and got a reasonable return for approximately £86.
Tip: If you pay for train wifi, check your email as Virgin send the code here.
Essentials to pack when out and about:
- Comfortable waterproof walking shoes – here are some recommendations from Fitness Magazine.com
- A compass could come in handy
- A waterproof walking jacket – Check out The Independent’s guide to best to buy
- Sun tan lotion, clouds can be deceiving!
- Water and light snacks
My trip to the lake district is a yearly pilgrimage that I do with my sister and niece. I look forward to next years trip, I just need to plan where to go.
For more information on Ullswater and places to stay visit Lake District National Park website.