The Ullswater Way

LDP Details

Route Summary: 

A 20 miles (32 km) loop around Ullswater Lake, following lakeshore paths, woodland trails and open farmland.

Where does the The Ullswater Way  Start and Finish:

The Ullswater Way can be started at any point and walked in either direction. However, the best views are gained from walking anticlockwise around the lake, starting from Pooley Bridge.

The Ullswater Way Weather Forecast:

Met Office Lake District Mountain Weather

Where is the The Ullswater Way 

The Ullswater Way follows the shore of Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District. With dramatic mountain scenery to the south and rolling country hills to the north, Ullswater is a beautiful spot in the Lake District, with plenty of historic features and picturesque villages to explore on route.

How long will it take to walk the The Ullswater Way 

The complete loop will take between 8-12 hours. The route can be split into shorter sections, using the Ullswater Steamers or local buses.

How Long is the The Ullswater Way 

 20 miles (32 km)

How hard is it to complete the The Ullswater Way ?  

The majority of the route is well signposted and follows gentle terrain, with the exception of a short stretch between Glenridding to Howtown where the path is rocky and almost continually climbs and falls. However, it is a long day and shouldn’t be underestimated!

Recommended The Ullswater Way Maps

The Ullswater Way Highlights:

The entire route is very picturesque and worth exploring but the key highlights are:

  • Aira Force The popular 65ft waterfall runs through ancient woodland, now protected by the National Trust. The waterfall is a short walk from Aira Force car park.
  • Pooley Bridge With plenty of pubs and the delicious Granny Dowbekin’s Tearooms, it’s certainly worthwhile to take a little extra time to explore the lakeside village.

What’s Public Transport Like on the The Ullswater Way ? 

The Ullswater Steamers can be used to complete sections of the route. The boats go from Glenridding-Howtown-Pooley Bridge as well as Glenridding-Aira Force.

Bus route 508 runs from Penrith to Windermere and includes stops at Pooley Bridge, Aira Force, Glenridding and Patterdale.

The Ullswater Way Guidebooks:

Hills and Places on The Ullswater Way

The Ullswater Way Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

The Ullswater Way

Opened in 2015, the Ullswater Way connects shoreline paths, woodland trails, farmland and popular lakeside villages to loop around Ullswater Lake in the English Lake District. The route includes the villages of Pooley Bridge, Patterdale and Glenridding.

The entire route is 20 miles (32 km) but can be walked in shorter sections by using Ullswater Steamers or a local bus.

The route is well signposted and follows a daffodil waymark; this symbol was chosen as William Wordsworth’s poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’, often simply referred to as ‘Daffodil’, was inspired by a visit to the Ullswater shoreline.

Facilities : Public toilets in Pooley Bridge, Aira Force, Glenridding and Patterdale. Numerous shops, cafes and pubs in Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Patterdale. There is also a small snack shop in Waterside House Campsite, which is just over 1km from Pooley Bridge at the end of the route.

There are car parks in Pooley Bridge, Aira Force, Glenridding and Patterdale.

NB: Construction has started on the replacement bridge across the River Eamont into Pooley Bridge. From September 2019 to Spring 2020 there will be no vehicle access across the bridge. Pooley Bridge can still be reached from the north via the B5320 and there is a temporary car park half a mile before the bridge. The diversion is well signposted and up to date details can be found here.

The Ullswater Way – Pooley Bridge to Aira Force

Distance – 10.7 km, Height Gained – 470 metres, Time – 3 hours

Although the entire Ullswater Way route has wonderful views of Ullswater and the surrounding countryside, the stretch between Pooley Bridge and Aira Force, particularly from Swinburn’s Park and around the edge of Gowbarrow Park, is outstanding.

Starting on the north-east side of Pooley Bridge, the path leads through woodlands and farming fields to reach Waterfoot Park. After a short climb to where Maiden Castle once stood, the route follows the road through Bennethhead and then turns left to cross fields and begins the climb through Swinburn Park.

At the edge of the woods the route splits and offers two options; a climb to summit Gowbarrow Fell before dropping down to Aira Force or a high level path traversing the hillside. If you’re not Wainwright bagging, the latter is definitely the preferred route, offering brilliant views down to the lake and a well-deserved stop at Memorial Seat. After crossing the river, turn right for a short detour to Aira Force waterfall before descending to Aira Force National Trust car park.

The Ullswater Way – Aira Force to Glenridding

Distance – 4.6km km, Height Gained – 141 metres, Time – 1.5 hours

Meandering alongside Ullswater, this leg of the Ullswater Way allows you to explore the many peddle beaches lining the lakeshore.

After leaving Aira Force National Trust car park, the route passes Dorothy Gate, which celebrates the writing of Dorothy Wordsworth and then enters a roadside park. After crossing the A592, the Way follows narrow footpaths next to the lake. There is a short section of road walking before the path dips back between the trees and once again follows shoreline trails. The final leg joins the pavement to reach Glenridding.

The Ullswater Way – Glenridding to Howtown

Distance – 10.5 km, Height Gained – 344 metres, Time – 3 hours

Perhaps the most popular part of the Ullswater Way, this section crosses a wonderful mix of farmland, woods and rocky terrain, all with expansive views of Ullswater stretching ahead.

From Glenridding, the route follows the pavement towards Patterdale. Just before reaching Patterdale village, there’s a narrow footpath on the left hand side, leading between buildings. The path widens to reach a beautiful open valley and continues to Side Farm. After bearing left, the route heads north, switching between wide tracks, narrow woodland trails and rocky lakeshore paths to eventually drop down to Howtown Pier.

The Ullswater Way – Howtown to Pooley Bridge

Distance – 6.10 km, Height Gained – 146 metres, Time – 1.5 hours

The final leg of the Ullswater Way offers a choice to climb the moorland to a Bronze Age monument or join a lower route through working farms.

From Howtown Pier, the Way crosses the road and climbs the hillside before bearing left to follow a drystone wall and the edge of Barton Fell. Just before Swarthbeck Gill, the route splits with an option to climb to The Cockpit, a large stone circle which dates back to the Bronze Age. The alternative, lower route, descends to Sharrow Cottages and weaves through farming fields to Seat Farm. There’s a short section of road walking before turning left into Waterside camp site to return to Pooley Bridge. Both route options offer varied terrain and good views; if you are walking the entire Ullswater Way, tired legs usually win the argument and the lower path is taken!


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Emma Knipe

Based in the Lake District and with frequent trips to Snowdonia, Emma spends most days in the mountains. She splits her time between leading group hikes, volunteering with the National Trust, mountain biking, hiking with the dog and planning the next adventure.

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