Things to do in Ullswater - Days Out & Restaurants - Lakelovers

About Ullswater

Things to Do in Ullswater

Wordsworth saw the yellow spring flowers dancing on the banks of Ullswater that inspired his famous poem ‘Daffodils’. It’s easy to empathise with his lifting spirits as you gaze on this prettiest of Lake District waters today.

The majesty of the surrounding hills is married beautifully with the soft greens of the fields and woods. And the little hamlets of Glenridding, Patterdale, and Pooley Bridge and scattered cottages and farms of Howtown, Hartsop and Martindale are rustic relics of old Lakeland.

Enjoy steamer cruises on Ullswater, water-sports and row boats on the lake, enticing eateries, including Sharrow Bay, one of the most celebrated restaurants in the region. And of course the incredible walking opportunities all around. You will be happy to sit or stroll in the idyllic scenery of Ullswater. Plus this Lakeland valley has many other attractions and is also well situated to give access to the Lake District round about.

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In ullswater

Ullswater Steamers

The steamers on Ullswater have been operating along this beautiful lake for over 150 years. The main piers are at Glenridding in the south and Pooley Bridge in the north. Howtown and Aira Force provide further stopping points. You can make the boat journey a lovely way to link some of the fabulous walking routes around the lake. Heritage vessels glide you along the undulating length of one of England’s very finest waters. This is one local attraction that really cannot be missed. –

Lakeland Boat Hire

This centre is located close to Pooley Bridge at the north end of the lake. Luxury motor boats, canoes and row boats are all available. Along with the appropriate safety equipment of course. Safety boats are also on patrol during opening hours in case you should get into difficulty. Simply messing about in boats is a time-honoured and excellent way to enjoy a holiday in the Lakes, especially in Ullswater. Boat hire is available elsewhere on the lake, including at St. Patrick’s Landing Ground near Glenridding, where you can also hire bikes.–

Aira Force

A beautiful waterfall in woods on the hillside near the banks of Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge. Aira Force also features in our suggested walks. But you can visit forthea fine view and photography opportunity by going to the little car park on the A5091. A little walk into the woodland to the falls is still necessary. For the best view, go down the steps to the bottom of the waterfall, looking up at the little stone bridge straddling the river. This is not to be missed off your list of what to do in Ullswater.

Rookin House Activity and Equestrian Centre

This long-established centre is in Troutbeck near Ullswater. Do not confuse this with Troutbeck near Lake Windermere, as there are two! Pony and horse riding can be arranged, catering for children and beginners. Other things to do include archery, clay-pigeon shooting, human bowling, quad bike treks, and paintballing. . –


The Dalemain Estate incorporates a fine historic mansion house and award-winning gardens. All just a few miles from Ullswater towards Penrith. The house was built in stages over several centuries. It is charmingly rambling as a result, full of twisting passages and unexpected stairways. The gardens and parklands are peaceful havens. Plus fine homemade food is served in the Medieval Hall Tearoom. –

Reach Beyond Adventure

This company of outdoor specialists operate across the Lake District. They focus a lot of activities around Ullswater. Rock-climbling, ghyll scrambling, bushcraft and canoeing are among your options for an action packed day out. One of the popular packages Reach Beyond offer is a day out in canoes on Ullswater. You’ll explore the bays and islands, combined with raft-building, abseiling, and, if you’re brave enough, cliff-jumping. You can never be at a loss for what to do in Ullswater if you are prepared to get outdoors and go wild!-

The Old Church at Martindale

There are two churches at Martindale, on the east of Ullswater, and the older of the two is fascinating. Martindale has the only wild red deer herd in the Lake District. Howtown, with its quaint pub at the hotel and its pier which services the steamers, is close by. We recommend climbing Hallin Fell at the same time, beginning at the newer church. Then climbing the short distance to the summit, which provides superb views up and down the lake.


Tourist information

If you need further ideas for what to do in Ullswater during your stay, be sure to visit the tourist information centre in Glenridding.


There are small village stores in Glenridding, Patterdale, and Pooley Bridge. Windermere has a Booths supermarket offering quality produce, and there are several supermarkets in nearby Penrith.

Petrol Stations

There is a filling station at Glenridding. Penrith and Keswick are also good places to re-fuel, and there are petrol stations across the Kirkstone Pass at Ambleside and Windermere, and on the A591 at Troutbeck Bridge.


The nearest doctors surgery is at Penrith Health Centre, and others can be found at the Goodly Dale Health Centre between Windermere and Bowness and on Rydal Road in Ambleside. –


There are several vets located in Penrith, including Vets4Pets. Oakhill Veterinary Group have a branch on Lake Road in Windermere, there is another in Ambleside. –



The Ullswater valley sprawls in the north-eastern part of the Lake District. The central lakes can be accessed via the high Kirkstone Pass at the south end of the valley, past serene Brotherswater. This pass brings you to the Troutbeck valley via the A592, with its scattered stone-built hamlets and peaceful greenery, and beyond to bustling Windermere and Bowness. At the top of the Kirkstone Pass you can choose to take the little winding road known as The Struggle down into the walkers hub of Ambleside, and from there head north to Wordsworth’s Grasmere. We strongly recommend a visit to these central areas of the Lakes, and we would also suggest a foray to Keswick, the chief village of the North Lakes and on from there to the stunning scenery of Borrowdale, with beautiful and remote Buttermere lying that way. You can choose to take a minibus tour of the Lakes if you want to take away the stress of driving and navigating. Mountain Goat tours are one such option, with a booking office in Windermere, and itineraries include a ‘Ten Lakes Spectacular’. –

Eating & Drinking


There are many eateries and country pubs scattered about the Ullswater valley. One of the most famous in the whole of the Lakes is Sharrow Bay, a high-end restaurant by the water’s edge on the east shore of the lake. This is certainly recommended for a special treat. Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Patterdale all have traditional pubs and cafes, and the shops there are perfect for stocking up on sandwiches and pies for a day on the hills. We like the Inn-on-the-Lake at Glenridding, and the Brackenrigg Inn near Watermillock, which is wonderfully positioned for a pint while overlooking the majestical lake below. The Brotherswater Inn towards the Kirkstone Pass serves simple food with a culinary flourish, and the Ullswater Holiday Park boasts a fish and chip shop accessible to all. Follow the link below for our full list of recommendations:



Walking is one of the most popular things to do in Ullswater, and with good reason. This exceptionally beautiful valley is full of lovely waterside strolls and stunning fell hikes, and you can access Helvellyn from here, one of the essential Lake District peaks to conquer. A superb day walk can be constructed incorporating Place Fell, the pretty lakeside path between Patterdale and Howtown, and the Ullswater steamer service. There is even a dedicated Ullswater Way walking trail that has recently been put in place to allow a terrific 20 mile circumnavigation of the lake. Patterdale and Glenridding will be able to supply the maps and guides you need, and further provisions are available in Ambleside and Keswick, which have a large number of excellent outdoor stores. Below we highlight some of our very favourite walks among the many:

Aira Force

If you park at the large National Trust car park on the west of Ullswater not far from Pooley Bridge, you can make a very pleasant circular walk of your visit to the finest waterfall in the Lakes. Begin on one side of the river and return on the other, following winding trails through peaceful woodlands. The fall itself is iconic, tumbling over rocks beneath a picturesque stone bridge into the deep pool below. 45 mins.

Place Fell

This is one of our very favourite day walks in the Lakes. Walk from Glenridding to Howtown via Place Fell on the east of the lake. This is an alternative to taking the shore path, which is equally worthwhile. But the height-gain of the fell gives a fulfilling sense of achievement, and the views of Ullswater and the surrounding shores and hills are really breathtaking. Descend to the lakeshore beyond Place Fell and walk to Howtown along the beautiful lake path beneath Hallin Fell. Take a cool drink at the unusual and quaintly traditional bar at the Howtown Hotel, before returning to Glenridding via the steamer, an unmatchable way to relax after your walk. If you prefer, extend the walk by returning by the shore path instead. 4 – 5 hrs.

St. Sunday Crag

This summit gives you sensational views over beautiful Ullswater, and onto the higher hills around. We recommend that you start this walk at Patterdale and head towards Helvellyn along Grisedale beck to Grisedale Tarn, before doubling back to St. Sundays Crag and descending to Patterdale again via the long ridge of The Birks. 2 hrs.

Ullswater Hallin FellHallin Fell

Near Howtown, this small fell is beautifully situated by the lake, and commands wonderful views over the water and surrounding countryside, and also into remote Martindale. It is to Martindale Church you need to drive, along the road past Sharrow Bay on the east shore of Ullswater, before climbing the short but very rewarding path to the summit. 1 hr.

Lakeshore from Patterdale

Parking at Patterdale lets you take the track to Side Farm on the east side of the lake. This is also the start of the route to Place Fell, but if you bear left along the shore from the farm past the campsite instead of ascending, you will find a superb, rugged path that undulates above the little bays. There are plenty of picnicking opportunities and the chance to take the steamer back from Howtown. 2 hrs.


Why not return from the Lakes saying you have walked one of the highest mountains in England? Helvellyn is the third highest, and can be tackled from Glenridding. Those in search of an adrenalin rush will want to include the exhilarating Striding Edge in their route, though this is not for everyone. 4 hrs.

Red Screes

This is a good option if you want to see the lands beyond lovely Ullswater. Go to the head of the valley and wind your way up the precipitous Kirkstone Pass to the inn at its summit. From the car park there, a fairly a short climb with a little scrambling brings you to the top of Red Screes, with its little tarn and terrific views across the neighbouring Lake Windermere valley. You can make a longer walk by dropping down to Ambleside via Snarker Pike, but remember that what goes down must come up! 1 hr.

Further Afield



This visitor centre is open year round, located in Britain’s largest grass covered building by Penrith near Ullswater and things to do include the huge 3D cinema screen which, along with other films, takes you on a fascinating journey of over 2000 years of Cumbrian history, an outdoor adventure play area, a tourist information centre, shops, a cafe and a restaurant. You will find the short trip towards Penrith well worthwhile. –

Holehird Gardens

Set over several acres of hillside, these wonderful gardens are brought to us by the Lakeland Horticultural Society. A tangle of paths dive through beautiful and unusual trees, shrubs and flower borders, and there is an excellent walled garden, too. A must for those interested in gardening, but also for anyone who enjoys beautiful surroundings and tranquility. Holehird is situated over the Kirkstone Pass, at the mouth of the Troutbeck valley just off the A592.


A roaring fire is to be found in the kitchen hearth of this traditional farmhouse, just over the Kirkstone Pass in the Troutbeck Valley, as if the inhabitants were still living there. All the tools and implements, everyday items and books belonging to the Browne family, who owned Townend, can be seen here. This was a typical Lakeland farming family, and their home is a true historical gem, wonderfully preserved by the National Trust, and offering a vision of a lost way of life from simpler times. –

Ambleside Climbing Wall

An indoor climbing wall with dedicated bouldering room awaits you if you take the trip to Ambleside over the Kirkstone Pass. Open to all except the youngest children, the wall stays open in the evenings sessions, too, and is a great way to sharpen your skills. The cafe here is a great place to wind down, and Ambleside has many other attractions to recommend it, including a cinema. –

The World of Beatrix Potter

One of the multiple attractions of Bowness-on-Windermere that we would recommend visiting, you and your children will be enchanted in Mr. McGregor’s Garden, while you meet all sorts of characters from the wonderful imaginary world of Beatrix Potter. The models are superbly detailed, and the drive from Ullswater is simply stunning. –

Theatre By The Lake

There are many reasons to go to Keswick, one of which is a visit to the Theatre by the Lake. Hosting a diverse range of drama, lectures, films and music, right next to the lovely shores of Derwent Water, this theatre comes highly recommended by us, and has cafe and bar facilities for refreshment. –

Getting to ullswater


The simplest route by car to Ullswater is to leave the M6 motorway at junction 40, and follow the signs at for Keswick on to the A66 before quickly leaving that road for the A5091 towards Pooley Bridge. If you are coming from the south and want to take a particularly scenic route to the area, leave the M6 motorway at junction 36 and pass by Kendal, continuing towards Windermere and Ambleside on the A591, before switching to the A592 through Troutbeck just after Windermere village. For train travellers, the nearest station is Penrith. Buses run regularly in the Lakes, and information can be found by following the link below: