The best Ullswater walks holiday cottages

The best Ullswater walks

Kim Brough 24 November 2022

The spectacular ribbon lake of Ullswater is a must-visit for Lake District walkers. The scenery incorporates the craggy peaks of the Lake District and the gently rolling hills of the Eden Valley, creating a fascinating and varied landscape that delights all who visit. 

As a result of this stunning scenery, walks around Ullswater are diverse and awe-inspiring. From the smallest hills to circular hikes around the lake, each route has its own special character for you to enjoy.

Read on to discover some of the best Ullswater walks or click the button below to browse our collection of cottages near Ullswater where you can rest your weary legs after a day of adventure. 

Aira Force Walk

Aira Force

Distance: 1 mile

Rating: Easy

Come rain or shine, Aira Force in Ullswater is a mighty sight to behold. Several paths lead to the waterfall, each weaving through beautiful scenery towards spectacular viewpoints. This is also a great option for walking your dog in Ullswater, with lots of items of interest, and plenty of opportunities to quench their thirst.

From the National Trust car park, follow the clear path towards the river, up through woodland, and past multiple small falls. The main attraction is topped by a picturesque stone bridge, offering a dramatic photo opportunity. Steps lead to a further bridge, which is a magnificent viewing point to see the falls crashing over the rocks and into a clear pool. It’s simply magical! 

Make your way back to the car park on the other side of the river to complete this circular walk.

The Ullswater Way (Ullswater Circular)

Ullswater, near Pooley Bridge

Distance: 20 miles

Rating: Challenging

For a long and varied hike, this Ullswater circular walk is a fantastic option. Though long, The Ullswater Way is relatively easy to hike, and mostly low-level. Villages along the way make for great places to take a break, and you’ll be treated to the spectacular scenery around the Lake District’s most beautiful lake.

You can walk around the whole of Ullswater this way, even though the route doesn’t follow the water for the entire time. Instead, it undulates over the lower northern hills, joining the lake again just beyond Aira Force to the west.

Enjoy this walk in shorter stages by catching an Ullswater ‘Steamer’ between sections.

Place Fell

Place Fell

Distance: 4.4 miles

Rating: Moderate

Follow in the footsteps of royalty! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, trod this path on their visit to Cumbria in 2019. It’s a reasonably easy path to follow, though steep in places. 

A sprinkling of small tarns at the top adds interest, and the views over Ullswater are truly mesmerising. At the end of it all, you can grab some cake from Side Farm at the bottom of the fell. 

Catch a bus to, or park up at the pay-and-display car park opposite the Patterdale Hotel.

Walks from the Ullswater ‘Steamers’

Ullswater Steamers

Distance: Varies

Rating: Varies

The Ullswater ‘Steamers’ are heritage boats that glide serenely across the water throughout the year. They link up with a number of lovely walks, including sections of the Ullswater Way. That means you can enjoy a linear walk with a spectacular lift back, or leave the car at home and still experience a circular walk on the other side of the lake.

The Cockpit Stone Circle and Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle

Distance: 7.5 miles

Rating: Moderate

This excellent circular walk near Ullswater starts at the village of Pooley Bridge and takes in many of the historically interesting sites of the area. Admire the ancient Cockpit Stone Circle, gaze in wonder at the spectacular remains of Lowther Castle, and wander around the medieval village of Askham.

Also known as the Lowther Loop, this route is an extension of the Ullswater Way. The climbing is minimal and gentle, and you’ll wander alongside rivers, through rolling farmland, and along quiet country lanes.

High Street

High Street

Distance: 5.9 miles

Rating: Challenging

Don’t let the name fool you! High Street isn’t a town centre walk, but rather a mountain path that was once a Roman road. As you may imagine, there are lots of items of historic interest, including stone circles and ancient monuments.

If you fancy it, you can take the original journey between Penrith and Ambleside, where there were once forts. The long plateau boasts views of both the Ullswater scenery, and the famous South Lakes countryside around Windermere.

However, one of the most popular routes starts at the southern end of nearby Haweswater. This challenging option includes some minor scrambling and ridge walking, and you’ll circle gorgeous Blea Water. Look out for Cumbrian wildlife such as red squirrels and red deer.

Dunmallard Hill

Dunmallard Hill

Distance: 1.3 miles

Rating: Easy

Fancy a short and sweet wander just before supper? This walk from Pooley Bridge to the top of Dunmallard Hill is ideal. The family and dog-friendly hike passes through peaceful woodland and will only take an hour or so to complete. It’s excellent for working up an appetite if you have some spare time before your meal!

Gowbarrow Fell

Gowbarrow Fell

Distance: 4.5 miles

Rating: Moderate

If you’re already keen to wander up to Aira Force, but fancy something a little longer, then you can extend the route up to diminutive Gowbarrow Fell

Once you reach the famous falls, continue onwards and upwards, with the river on your left. You’ll pass through open farmland and can admire 360 degrees of famous Lake District fells such as Helvellyn, Blencathra, and even the Pennines.

From the summit, continue round in a clockwise direction until you circle back to your starting point.

Dalemain Loop

Dalemain Loop

Distance: 5 miles

Rating: Easy

Starting at either Pooley Bridge or Dalemain Mansion, the Dalemain Loop is clearly signposted and very easy to follow. You’ll pass alongside the River Eamont and through delightful open farmland. 

Take a bit of time when you reach the village of Dacre: there are some interesting historic sites as well as an excellent pub, The Horse & Farrier.

You can also enjoy a wander around Dalemain Mansion: a stately home with an intriguing mishmash of architectural styles from across the centuries.

Helvellyn and Striding Edge

Striding Edge and Red Tarn

Distance: 7.2 miles

Rating: Challenging

Of all the walks near Ullswater, this is the most famous. Striding Edge – one of Britain’s favourite walks – is an awe-inspiring route over a narrow ridge with sheer drops to either side. This is one for experienced hikers and should only be attempted in good weather.

Starting at either Glenridding or Patterdale, the route takes you up the slopes of imposing Helvellyn and onto the famous ridge. You can circle high above Red Tarn, onto Swirral Edge, and back down again.

If you reach Striding Edge and the weather has turned, or you change your mind about the ascent, you can take a much easier and lower path up to the shores of Red Tarn instead, before doubling back to head back into the village, where you can celebrate at one of the excellent pubs.

Cottages in Ullswater

Ullswater provides spectacular scenery and a real range of interest for walkers. Explore on foot directly from your doorstep when you stay at one of our self-catering cottages in Ullswater.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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