Things to do nearby Eagle Cottage
Where to begin to explain all that Glenridding has to offer? Let’s start with the obvious! The village is nestled at the foot of the mighty Helvellyn range and has easy access to the classic routes up England’s third highest mountain. Wainwright writes affectionately about the fell, describing it as a friendly giant with a long history full of legend and romance. St Sunday Crag and Catstycam can also be climbed straight from the village. These hills are some of the biggest and most exciting fells, with wide-ranging views, dramatic rock faces and spine-tingling ridge walks and scrambles.
The village of Glenridding grew up on the back of lead mining, with one of the most productive lead mines in the whole country located here. The local Tourist Information Centre has displays on this former industry. In the early days Glenridding was not accessible by road so a steamer service was established on the lake to bring in food and provisions for the miners. This service still operates today in the form of Ullswater ‘Steamers’, but the boats are now more likely to be dropping off quantities of visitors! A journey on one of the impressive vessels is a must. They operate regularly between Pooley Bridge, Howtown and Glenridding, and there is now also a shuttle service between Glenridding Pier and Aira Force. Why not take a leisurely sail across the stunning lake, enjoying the marvellous scenery (there’s even a bar on board!) or perhaps take the opportunity to learn about the company’s 150-year history?
Another way to mess about on the water here might see you hiring a boat or canoe. Ullswater is perfect for watersports of all descriptions and there are plenty of coves and beaches for picnics or fishing. Boats can be hired at Pooley Bridge and Glenridding. Alternatively, you can launch your own boat at Howtown or take out temporary membership of Ullswater Yacht Club.
The area offers a fabulous array of bridleways for mountain bikers and a range of quiet roads for motorists. Choose from loops or you could cycle part-way around the lake and then catch a steamer back – very civilised! Kirkstone Pass makes an appearance in many classic Lake District cycling events and is an excellent training opportunity. At an altitude of 1,489 feet, it’s the highest mountain pass in the Lake District that is open to motor traffic. It stretches from Ambleside to Patterdale and takes in some glorious views on its way. Its name refers to a huge rock resembling the shape of a church, hence “Kirk”, the Old Norse word for church. Why not enjoy a leisurely drive from Glenridding through Patterdale and on to Ambleside? Leaving Ullswater, you enter a pastoral landscape of green fields grazed by Herdwick sheep and dotted with traditional Lakeland farms and outbuildings. High on the left is a continuous ridge at the top of which is High Street – a former prehistoric route that was used by the Romans to link their forts at Brougham (Brocavum) and Ambleside (Galava).
Keen – and strong! – cyclists can mountain bike between the tops of Dollywagon Pike and Clough Head and further afield over the High Street Range. In the summer months there is a regular bus service going over the pass to Windermere, which opens up many more linear walks from the door without having to trouble your car keys or take to two wheels.
Aside from the Lake District giants there are many delightful low-level walks to savour in this area. Less than three miles from Glenridding is the National Trust car park for Aira Force. This majestic waterfall has a one-mile circular route to take you around the different viewpoints of the falls and a handy café after your exertions. You can also branch off on various other paths from here if you’re feeling more energetic! There is a new path between Aira Force and Glencoyne Bay, where the poet William Wordsworth and sister Dorothy first saw the long line of daffodils that became the inspiration for his most famous poem.
After all that exercise, you’re bound to be feeling peckish – and there are plenty of eateries around Glenridding! The majestic Inn on the Lake is, as its name suggests, blessed with a stunning lakeside position. Check out the smart Lake View restaurant or visit the more informal Ramblers Bar. You can also take afternoon tea by the fire, or in the garden during the warmer months. The lovely garden goes all the way down to the lake and is a wonderful place to relax for an hour or two. There is also a large children’s playground outside. The nearby Glenridding Hotel welcomes well-behaved dogs to its Beckside Bar and offers a variety of food and drink. Fellbites, opposite the Tourist Information Centre in Glenridding, is a small cafe by day and restaurant by night and has spectacular views of Place Fell. A pub with something of a reputation among fell walkers is the Travellers Rest, a popular route of descent from the mountains. It’s a snug, traditional pub where you can get a pint and decent food without worrying about your muddy boots or soggy waterproofs!
If you fancy a picnic on the banks of Ullswater or perhaps up at Lanty’s Tarn above Glenridding, you can’t go far wrong with the local shops, including a mini market that sells mouth-watering pies, local meat and cheese and a wide selection of local beer. Hungry visitors might head to Howtown Hotel, situated near the lovely little Hallin Fell, accessed by car along a bumpy road or by sailing in style on a steamer from Glenridding or Patterdale, which is highly recommended! Also on the road to Howtown is the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel, one of the oldest Lakeland hotels and the birthplace of the famous Sticky Toffee Pudding.
The nearby market town of Penrith has many places to eat as well as plenty of shops, both independent and high street. It even has its own smokery as well as an artisan bakery and cake shop. In the centre of town you’ll find an original indoor Victorian shopping arcade, Devonshire Arcade, which is home to small boutiques and food retailers. Farmers’ markets take place in Penrith on the third Tuesday of the month, between March and December.
Heading over Kirkstone Pass opens up the many acclaimed restaurants in Ambleside. Perhaps you might enjoy a cinema evening at Zeffirelli’s or Fellini’s, two charming cinemas frequently showing independent films, with excellent vegetarian restaurants attached to them.
Keswick, the adventure hub of the northern Lake District, is about 30 minutes’ drive from Glenridding and the town has lots of places to eat. Naturally, it also offers a vast choice of outdoor activities, whether you’re looking to go by foot, bike, car or on water, and also a wide choice of things to do in wet weather – just in case!