Ullswater and the north eastern reaches of the Lake District have a distinctly different feel to the more central and southern areas. Gone are the chocolate box villages and gentle scenery. In its place are the lofty, imposing mountains and small almost alpine villages of Ullswater, tapering out to the east and the soft sandstone villages and the vast rolling hills of the Eden Valley.
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Due to its snaking curved shape, it is virtually impossible to stand at any point along the shores of Ullswater and see the entire length. The eastern stretch of the lake flows out to Pooley Bridge and the shores are lined with gentle lower slopes. Round the corner of Place Fell and it's all change with the imposing and brooding Helvellyn range towering over the western edge of the lake giving it an entirely more exciting feel.
A trip on the Ullswater Steamer is a must do. There are seats inside and out and there is even a licensed bar inside! It really is the most leisurely way to take in the sights of Ullswater, with three stages to hop on or off, or just enjoy the round the lake trip.
Patterdale and Glenridding
One of the real mountain villages of the Lake District, Patterdale always has a slightly wild feel to it, enclosed on one side by the immense Helvellyn range and its deep long valleys. Your eyes are drawn upwards towards the immense ridges, so big they almost hide the summits.
For walkers, Glenridding and Patterdale really are the places to be for big mountain days – the mammoth Helvellyn range, St Sunday Crag and Catstycam are all climbed from both villages. 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.
In the evening you can seek out the comfort of the Travellers Rest or the Patterdale Hotel, the latter being one of the first hotels to put up its Christmas decorations each year!
Martindale and Haweswater
In the far flung eastern reaches of Lakeland you will find the mysterious valleys of Martindale and Mardale. Martindale is home to a roaming herd of red deer, and Mardale is the location of the Haweswater reservoir with a submerged village at the valley head.
A single road leads into Mardale, alongside the vast Haweswater reservoir. It is home to the only wild but elusive Golden Eagle in England.
After negotiating the steep hairpin bends at Howtown, a single road leads you into Martindale, sharing the remote and slightly brooding feel of Haweswater.
The High Street range is a massive mountain at the heart of these two valleys; it’s spurs and ridges reaching out for miles in all directions. The valleys are typified by their lack of civilisation, with only a handful of dwellings, the landscape remaining untouched by modern development.
Mungrisdale and Mosedale
Back o' Skiddaw is named for the area to the north of Blencathra. It is made up of several sparse hamlets with no more than a few scattered properties, creating a remote, rural feel to the area.
Mungrisdale and Mosedale are the primary locations, on the edge of superb walking country typified by smooth sweeping slopes and deep valleys. Mungrisdale is the place to be to make an ascent of Blencathra, and not see a soul till you reach the summit. From Mosedale you can retrace the steps of the early Victorian tourists by walking to Bowscale Tarn in hunt of a legendary immortal fish.
The local pub is the Mill Inn, a 17th Century coaching inn with a delightful riverside beer garden. At the foot of Blencathra is the White Horse at Scales, a popular start/finish point for tackling the majestic mountain.
The picture perfect Eden Valley occupies the area between the eastern fringes of the Lake District and the Pennines. In comparison to the mountains of the Lake District, the Eden Valley is relatively low lying and remarkably little known, however it is visited time and again by those who have discovered it. Eden offers an oasis of calm amidst rolling grassy fells, vast tranquil valleys and sleepy sandstone villages.
Snaking through the valley is the River Eden. It flows from Mallerstang along the length of the valley and passes through the old market towns of Kirkby Stephen and Appleby. With convenient access to Hadrian's Wall, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, it is easy to see why the Eden Valley is thought of as Cumbria’s hidden gem.
Penrith is an ideal base for exploring the Lake District and the wider region of Cumbria. It's easily accessible from the rest of the UK thanks to its position close to the M6 and the mainline train station, and it has good roads leading in all directions. Head to the Lakes, the North Pennies, the Eden Valley - your choice is unlimited!
Penrith also has loads to offer itself. Picturesque cobbled streets wind their way through the town, and you'll find an eclectic mix of independent shops and popular chains, as well as handy supermarkets and a regular market. There are wonderful castle ruins and a beautiful clock tower, as well as a museum that boasts lots of fascinating historical artefacts and fine art.
The minor villages of north Lakeland centre around Greystoke. Despite their tiny size, the four villages of Greystoke, Penruddock, Skelton and Little Blencow each boast a thriving pub in addition to the peaceful countryside.
Greystoke has a strong sense of community. There is an open air swimming pool, a 17th century pub, a post office, and village shop selling local produce. The Boot & Shoe is a charming pub with a great menu. It holds a weekly open mike session and various themed food nights.
Greystoke Forest has lovely forest tracks for safe family cycling. The area has a claim to fame in popular culture, as Greystoke is the ancestral home in the Tarzan books and films.
Carlisle is Cumbria's only city and it's a really special place. With sandstone buildings, an imposing castle, remnants of Hadrian's Wall, and a beautiful cathedral, history lovers will be in heaven. For some retail therapy or a good meal out, you've got plenty to keep you occupied too: the main pedestrianised area is spacious with lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants, as well as a couple of indoor shopping centres. Or why not detour down one of the narrow alleys and see what you find?
There's also a theatre, lovely parks, and a winding river to explore. Carlisle really is a city like no other!
Orton and The Howgills
Orton is one of many picturesque villages in Cumbria, however this one in particular has the Alfred Wainwright seal of approval. He thought it was one of Westmorland's loveliest villages. He also decreed that the Howgills fells were amongst the finest, most quiet hills to walk on.
The idyllic rural local belies the excellent transport links from all directions, making it a great spot for a touring holiday or the surrounding area. Orton is on the Coast to Coast path and is a good base for exploring the route to the east. Along the course of the River Eden, there are many small villages and market towns, all with a timeless air and welcoming atmosphere thanks to their independent and often quirky shops.
The small town of Appleby-in-Westmorland is perhaps best known for its annual horse fair, which is the biggest in Europe. However, this isn't just a one-trick town! It's bursting at the seams with interesting history with Appleby Castle, the Hospital of St Anne, St Lawrence’s Church, and more.
The countryside around here is absolutely beautiful, too, with the rolling hills of the Eden Valley really coming into their own. You'll want to take your walking boots or hop on your bike to really make the most of it!