However, there are still a huge amount of areas that are well-kept secrets and therefore much quieter than other parts of the national park. Today, we’re taking a look around Ullswater: though considered far-and-wide as the most beautiful of the Lake District lakes, it has lots of places where you can really escape the crowds!
Don’t forget to find your perfect self-catering cottage near Ullswater.
With only about 50 permanent residences, and reached via a tough road with hairpin turns, Martindale is as peaceful a valley as you can get! It's found on the southeast shore of Ullswater and the route to it via Hallin Hause – with its steep ascent and hairpin turns – offers spectacular views of the lake. If you’re lucky and take a pair of binoculars, you may spot England’s oldest herd of red deer wandering the valley or even run into some of the semi-wild fell ponies that roam here!
The most easterly and one of the largest lakes in the Lake District, Haweswater is actually a reservoir created in 1929 by flooding the villages of Measand and Mardale Green. The entire community had to be relocated, buildings were knocked down, and coffins even had to be dug up and reinterred elsewhere! In times of drought, when the water levels drop, you can see the remains of Mardale. It has a somewhat mysterious air now and is a tranquil spot to spend a day.
High Force Waterfall
If you know anything about this area of the Lake District, then you probably already know about Aira Force. This waterfall is certainly worth a visit and is deserving of its popularity, but did you know that just a quarter of a mile uphill from Aira Force is High Force? Continue walking along the Aira Force trail to reach this pretty waterfall, and enjoy a relaxing time listening to the water splash over the rocks without large numbers of people nearby.
Connecting Ullswater with Ambleside, Kirkstone Pass is the highest Lake District pass that you can drive over. Though its not advisable to take on the route in bad weather conditions, the top of the pass is a wonderful place to escape the crowds. It could be that people avoid this area because of its remoteness and difficulty to reach, but stories of poltergeist and the strange goings on at Hangman’s Tree probably don’t help! In the bright light of day, however, you can enjoy a drink at the historic Kirkstone Pass Inn – 1,500ft up and the highest inhabited building in Cumbria – or start on several hikes.
Steel Knotts in the valley of Martindale is one of several low-lying fells around Ullswater. While many people travel to this area to take on mighty Helvellyn and the famous Striding Edge, there are still plenty of other options for those who are looking for relatively flat walks or gentler fell routes. Steel Knotts is one such choice. It can be accessed via a long-winding road – quintessential of the Lake District! – or you can take a slightly different approach and get there via a trip on an Ullswater Steamer! The walk starts properly at St Peter’s Church to the east of Ullswater and is a circular route with an interesting rocky summit and views of the lake.
There are over 100 tarns in the Lake District and the famous Alfred Wainwright considered Angle Tarn one of the best. Offering 360 degree views of Angletarn Pikes and the Helvellyn Range, it’s not hard to see why! There are lots of walks to and from the tarn and you can even enjoy a bit of trout fishing (please check relevant licenses and permissions required).
The Cockpit Stone Circle
This whole area is awash in interesting historical structures, including several stone circles. The Cockpit dates back to the Bronze Age and sits on Moor Divock at the crossroads of two trading routes. Still in a relatively good condition considering its age (which could be anywhere between 3,500 and 5,000 years!), it is 20 metres in diameter and includes approximately 75 stones. Like most stone circles, we don’t really know what it was used for, but that only adds to the mystery of the place!
The Lake District Ski Club
Did you know that you can ski in the Lake District? Well, not many people do, so if there’s snow on the fells, you might consider heading to the Lake District Ski Club on a mountain called Raise, just above Glenridding. Opened in the 1930s, it has nine ski runs available, the longest of which stretches for a mile. There is no tuition or ski hire here, but if you’re well prepared and experienced, this is a great place to enjoy a unique view of the Lake District away from the crowds!
If you fancy a splash, a quick burst of adrenaline, or just a laze on a lakeside beach, then Kailpot Crag is a great spot. Popular with wild swimmers, but lesser known by the general public, this is an open crag that you can jump straight off into the waters below! You can take a ferry from Howtown Pier and then follow the path to this special spot. You can also take a look at our wild swimming guide for more swimming suggestions.
Though popular with visitors to Ullswater, in comparison to other towns and villages in the Lake District, Pooley Bridge is still relatively quiet. Despite that, it has some wonderful attractions. There are lots of pubs and a few good shops as well as a pier for the Ullswater Steamers and nearby stately homes. Don’t miss a stop off at Chestnut House, especially if you’re a gin lover! This speciality grocery store and off-license offers 400 gins for sale!
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