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Ullswater as seen on Robson Green's Weekend Escapes on BBC2 in January 2024

Family walking at Ullswater

Ullswater is known as one of "England's most beautiful lakes" and at nine miles long is surrounded by dramatic mountains and inspiring Lake District countryside, featured in the "Miss Potter" film. The lake is the second largest in England at around nine miles long, but is less than a mile across. It is also the third deepest English lake at 250 feet deep.

Sir Donald Campbell set the world water speed record on Ullswater on July 23, 1955.  He piloted the jet-propelled hydroplane 'Bluebird K7' to a speed of 202.32 mph (325.53 km/h).

Pooley Bridge view from bridge photo by Helen Shaw the Ullswater destination video on YouTube.

Where to stay

Ullswater is the perfect place to unwind. You can choose to stay in and around Ullswater in traditional farmhouses, cosy cottages, welcoming guesthouses and Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs), fine hotels, self catering cottages, or well run caravan and camping sites around the lake-all offering quality accommodation.

Signpost at Pooley Bridge photo by Helen Shaw restaurants, cafes and inns provide local fare and cuisine to suit all tastes.

Pooley Bridge 

The village of Pooley Bridge (at the northern end of Ullswater) has a good choice of places to eat and stay, together with a lovely selection of small friendly shops.

The village of Pooley Bridge takes its name from a bridge over the River Eamont.  

The bridge, first erected in 1764 collapsed on 6 December 2015 when Cumbria was hiPooley Bridge photo by Helen Shaw by Storm Desmond. It's replacement, the UK’s first stainless steel road bridge was officially opened on Friday 23 October 2020.

Measuring 128ft long, the landmark structure reconnects the Ullswater valley with a permanent new bridge.  You can read more in our news section.


Glenridding is a popular starting point for walkers and climbers going up Helvellyn - England's third highest mountain which includes Striding and Swirral Edges. 

Glenridding photo by Helen Shaw a cruise and soak up the atmosphere of this peaceful lake on one of the Ullswater 'Steamers' which carry passengers all year round. There are piers at Glenridding, Pooley Bridge and Howtown plus a Pier at Aira Force which opened in June 2015.



Close to Glenridding is the small village of Patterdale – a popular area for walkers for Helvellyn. To the south of the village the main road winds its way up and across Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside and Troutbeck.  

Ullswater photo by Stewart Smith courtesy of the Cumbria Photo Library

Howtown and Brotherswater

Howtown offers a 'steamer' stop half way along the lake. Wainwright called the walk from Howtown back to Glenridding to be "the most beautiful of lake walks in the National Park."

Brotherswater is a small lake south of Ullswater at the foot of Kirkstone Pass. Originally called Broad Water it was renamed after two brothers drowned there in the 19th century. Kirkstone Pass is The Lake District's highest pass which runs between Windermere and Ullswater. 

Aira Force photo courtesy of the Cumbria Photo Library

Things to do

Please check individual attraction websites for the latest up to date information on opening arrangements before visiting.

Ullswater is a great lake for sailing and canoeing, windsurfing and fishing.  You can hire rowing, sailing or small motor boats to explore the islands and bays at your own pace. There's an active sailing club, various activity centres and pony trekking too.

Walking and cycling

Follow one of the many scenic paths which skirt around the lake, much admired by Wainwright.  Or head up to the nearby fells such as Helvellyn for a full days hike. Look out for red deer or red squirrels along the way!Daffodils at Gowbarrow Park photo by Ben Barden courtesy of the Cumbria Photo Library

Go walking in search of the Spring daffodils on the shore line around Glencoyne which inspired Wordsworth to write his famous poem. Wordsworth once wrote of Ullswater, as being, "perhaps, upon the whole, the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the Lakes affords".

Visit the National Trust's Aira Force, where a series of waterfalls plunge through an attractive wooded ravine. Aira Force drops an impressive 65ft and is the perfect place for a family walk and picnic.

Try one of our cycle routes around Ullswater and explore the area on two wheels.

For more details of things to do, visit our Attractions listing. Visit our Events listing for full details of what's on in the area or contact one of the local Tourist Information Centres.


The Ullswater Way

The Ullswater Way signpostThe Ullswater Way is a stunning 20 mile route around Ullswater.  The route can be walked in either direction and from any starting point. Why not walk the route in shorter sections, using an open top bus or steamer to start your journey!

Download the official map and guide from the website and visit the Friends of the Ullswater Way website for more information.

The Ullswater Way Heritage Trail has been inspired by the Friends of the Ullswater Way, who have worked with local artists and craftspeople to create a series of installations around Ullswater. 

Each installation celebrates an aspect of the Ullswater Valley’s heritage in harmony with the natural Lake District surroundings. Look out for the Poetry Stones, Dorothy Gate, Wainwright Sitting Stone, Roman Seat and many more.

The Dalemain Loop

Dalemain Loop logoFollowing the fantastic success of the Ullswater Way, an additional 5 mile circular loop - The Dalemain Loop - has been developed.  This enables people to link from the Ullswater way to Dalemain Mansion with its Garden and Tea Rooms and Dacre village with its ancient church and traditional pub.

The Loop is well signposted and an illustrated account of the walk can also be found in the Official Guide to the Ullswater Way.  The guide is available from businesses around the Ullswater Way and Penrith Tourist Information Centre (TIC).  £1 for every copy sold donated to the National Park to help maintain the route.

Lowther Castle LoopLowther Castle Loop logo

Try the latest addition to the Ullswater Way - The Lowther Castle Loop. From Lowther Castle, the circular 7.5 mile route follows the banks of the Lowther river.  It passes through the hamlet of Helton and then up to Askham Fell with its panoramic views, before returning through the charming village of Askham.

The Ullswater Way Heritage Trail

The Heritage Trail consists of 12 heritage-themed installations along the 4 main sections of the Ullswater Way. Each installation celebrates an aspect of the valley’s heritage. Each is created by a local artist and designed to be in harmony with the natural surroundings.  You can read more and download the Heritage Trail leaflet from the Ullswater Heritage website.

Ullswater on TV

Ullswater has featured on Channel 4's 'Walking through history' with Tony Robinson, ITV1's 'Ade in Britain,' ITV1's 'The Adventurer's Guide to Britain,' BBC1's The Great British Weather and ITV1's 'The Lakes' with Rory McGrath.  It has also featured on Susan Calman's Grand Days Out on Channel 5 and the BBC1 comedy 'Home from home' starring Johnny Vegas.


Further information on the Ullswater Valley and Surrounding Area

Walkers on Striding Edge, Helvellyn

For a free leaflet on Ullswater, please contact Ullswater Information Centre.