Ullswater

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX 420Ullswater lies in Cumbria’s aptly named Eden Valley, nestled in between some of the region’s highest fells. It is England’s second largest lake. It is also my favourite lake retreat, a destination for those times when I want to empty my head and become absorbed into the land and waterscape.

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Despite its popularity with visitors, Ullswater has been able to retain a tranquil presence and serenity which can become lost when a place of great beauty becomes a magnet for tourists. To my mind this can be explained in two ways. Firstly (and rather more mundanely) people who visit Ullswater tend to be there with a purpose: walking; climbing, orienteering, sailing, often hiring a cottage for the week or pitching up tent at one of the many lakeside camping sites. Families and groups, when on the lake, are usually sailing across or trekking along the shore line on route to a next stage in their day’s activity. Sporting backpacks, waterproof clothing, climbing gear and dogged determination, high-spirited and motivated they happily endure rain and wind to reach another point on their map. They are on a mission and on the move.

Contrast this scene with one from Windermere – the best known of the English lakes – where in parts the water’s edge is lined by throngs of day-trippers queuing at the various burger kiosks and throwing the scraps from their chip wrappers to the flocks of swans and lake fowl waiting in anticipation. Even when you have successfully woven your way through the selfie-sticks, home movie makers and familial huddles of ice-cream eating toddlers and buggies to eventually make your way to the lakeside landing stage, you might find your view from the deck of the cruise launch obscured by enthusiastic tourists, blissfully spatially unaware in their attempts to find the best vantage points to click their cameras.

Windermere, much more commercial and accessible, is a haven for tourists and those who want a nice day out in a pretty setting; for Ullswater visitors it is more about ‘doing’ than taking the photograph.

I think there is a second way in which the serenity of Ullswater is preserved; there is an aura of tranquillity, a magical haunting quality with which one’s mind can meld even whilst being seated on a crowded ‘steamer’. Every time I have visited Ullswater, regardless of the season, the sky has been grey and the surrounding hills have been enveloped in mist. I recollect that most sailings have been in the rain. Rather than detract from the experience the weather has added an almost metaphysical element to that already mysterious ambience. It is hypnotic.In essence, a visit to Ullswater offers the possibility to get lost in the crowd.

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The village of Glenridding lies at the southern tip of the lake, overlooked by the imposing form of the Helvellyn fells, a Mecca for serious walkers. These giants provide a gateway to the southern lake region beyond. Pooley Bridge, a small but thriving village at the lake’s northern point has proved to be as hardy as any of the local flora and fauna in recovering in fighting spirit from the devastating floods which brought life to a standstill and destroyed so much property during the onslaughts of relentless rainfall during the winter of 2015/16. Life goes on; excellent cafes continue to serve delicious food; hotels, hostelries and B&Bs display their ‘no vacancies’ signs and the lake‘s currents and rhythms continue, timeless and unperturbed.

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13 thoughts on “Ullswater

  1. Iris March 8, 2018 / 11:19 pm

    A truly beautiful part of our country. I could sail on the Ullswater steamer all day with a good book and a shawl round my shoulders.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shazza March 9, 2018 / 6:11 am

    I love the steamers on Ullswater and your right, its a much more tranquill place to visit. Have spent much time over the years in Pooley Bridge which is not far from where my Mum lives and I have camped there too as well as at The Quiet Site. Ullswater is gorgeous rain or shine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amanda's Travel Diary March 9, 2018 / 6:46 am

      How lucky to have relatives living nearby! Do you go there quite often,Shazza? I’ve chatted with lots of people who like The Lakes but have never been to Ullswater. It’s not as popular with the day-trippers (like me, admittedly!) who tend to head for the southern lakes, which helps keep it special. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • shazza March 9, 2018 / 7:18 pm

        Hi Amanda. Used to go quite alot with my Mum. She has problems with her knees now so we dont get to visit many places together at the moment. However she does live in Askham which is near Pooley Bridge, notfar from Ullsrwater. X

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous March 9, 2018 / 7:35 pm

    Great photos! Love the grey and the mountains. Looks like it could be from Lord of the Rings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lana March 10, 2018 / 6:26 pm

    I like the look of this lake. I went to Windermere and could barely move for tourists! And that was October.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amanda's Travel Diary March 10, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      Windermere is the same all year around, Lana. When I went in February I went to one of my favourite cafes in Ambleside and people had to wait for tables to become free on a day that was freezing cold! It’s very popular, and rightly so. It’s also the most accessible of all the lakes for those travelling by train, Ullswater is a different experience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 11, 2018 / 7:36 am

        My husband said he has been to U but his favourite up there is one beginning with B…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lana March 11, 2018 / 9:18 am

        Buttermere!

        Liked by 1 person

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