A WEEKEND RETREAT TO BEAUTIFUL ULLSWATER
FOR those that like scenic breaks and the healthy outdoors, I can think of no better place to spend a weekend than in Ullswater. It is truly a lake of great beauty which attracts visitors from all around the world. It was this tranquil setting which inspired William Wordsworth`s to write the famous “Daffodils” poem.
It is England`s second largest lake and set in the north easterly corner of the beautiful Lake District National Park in Cumbria. Adjacent to its shores are the villages of Glenridding, Pattedale and Pooley Bridge. Close to Patterdale looms Helvellyn, the third highest peak in England. The remnants of a recent high level snowfall cling on to its upper reaches.
My hotel was in Glenridding, the Inn on the Lake, and it is in a perfect location right by the lakeside with superb views of the peaks and the lake to wake up to. The gravel paths from the hotel wind their way towards the lake through the ornamental lawn areas. Antique lamp posts line the path and no doubt are a useful lure for the insect life at night. Bunches of daffodils poke their way through the green lawn. A small wooden jetty reaches into the lake and a guest`s yacht is moored up alongside The protective awning provides some protection against the elements. On the lake, yachts majestically glide along the water, carving their mark on the water’s surface. The resultant ripples encourage the lapping waves to to encroach further up the shore line.
Glenridding village was busy with the hustle bustle of walkers and climbers who take a welcome respite before their assault on the peaks the area has to offer. The tourist information centre is fully occupied by people searching through the information packs to take in details of the local sights and activities and also the opportunity to purchase a trusty souvenir to take back home. Greystones coffee shop welcomes walkers to take on refreshments before embarking on their travels. A shuffle board inside the cafe provides a distraction from the sweet and savoury treats on offer.
Located nearby are the Ullswater “Steamers” which are an ideal way of seeing the lake with minimal effort, although they are also useful to ferry walkers to the start points of many of the walks in the area. These vessels run all year round (except for 24 and 25 December). In addition they run private charter packages for any occasion. Stopping points aside from Glenridding are Howtown and Pooley Bridge.
There is one walk to do while you are here and it is probably one of the best lakeside walks in England. First you need to make sure you have a good pair of boots as the terrain is undulating and rocky in places. Walking poles will help with some parts of the walk and in any event take the strain off your knees. A waterproof is also a must as the weather can change very quickly in this area. The day I chose was sunny and I took a picnic – the hotel did a very nice one with no effort from me.
I did forget to pack my map but the “Steamer” office on Glenridding pier has single sheet paper copies describing the walk which are detailed. However, I would always recommend having a map as a back up. From here you take the ferry to Howtown, a small hamlet midway across the lake on the south shore.
The views on the walk are mouthwatering, looking across the lake, which enclosed by the mountain peaks. The area has it`s fair share of Herdwick sheep or “Herdies” that are native to this part of the country. There also plenty of plenty of wild fauna to take in. Swans and ducks are scattered on stretches of the lake with the occasional Steamer passing by. There were not many walkers out and the scene was quiet aside from the bird life and the occasional cry of a Herdie.
The walk itself takes a little bit of effort but you can complete it in about 4 hours at a leisurely pace and also with time to take in that picnic you packed. There are plenty of lakeside spots from which to enjoy the view while munching through the hidden delights of a picnic you haven`t prepared yourself. An exhilarating walk and the chance to finish off with a beer at the Ramblers Bar before getting ready for dinner.
My stay was short but well worth it and I must book another visit to this area sometime soon!
Where I stayed
The Inn on the Lake, Glenridding. http://www.lakedistricthotels.net/innonthelake/index.php
An excellent hotel right by the lakeside. The lake view bedrooms are to die for. The food and service was first class and they also offer a number of special deals all year round.
Transport on the Lake
Ullswater Steamers – full details can be found on their website at http://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/
Howtown to Glenridding “Streamer” walk – 7 miles, moderate. Further details together with other walks at http://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/about-us/things-to-do/walks.htm
Other places to visit close by
Pooley Bridge which is on the Steamer route. It is a busy village catering mainly for the tourist trade.
Further afield are Penrith, Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere all worth visiting.