A Trip to Glenridding, Ullswater in the Lake District

Mark Bibby Jackson takes a hike and a boak trip around Ullswater Lake in the Lake District

Europe, Outdoors

Mark Bibby Jackson takes a hike and a boak trip around Ullswater Lake in the Lake District

We could not have wished for a more beautiful drive up to the Lake District. It was late Spring and lambing season. As soon as we left the A1, the green fields unfurled with occasional blobs of white nestling up to their mothers. It was the quintessential idyllic English countryside. Equally English was the weather that greeted us when we arrived at the village of Glenridding on the banks of Lake Ullswater. It bucketed down. After all you can’t make lakes without spilling some water.

The previous year I stayed in the Tynemouth Inn close to Newcastle. It is part of the Inn Collection group as is the Ullswater Inn, where we were booked to stay in the Lakes. The Ullswater Inn shares many of the same hallmarks as its Geordie twin, including much of the same elegant interior. My room was spacious and well-appointed with both bath and shower in my bathroom.

Ullswater Inn, Glenridding
Ullswater Inn, Glenridding

The rains continued throughout the evening so we decided to settle down for the night in the Ullswater Inn, with myself having some sea trout while my mother tried the fish and chips. After a long drive we were just content to enjoy the comfort of the pub, and the local beer flowed easily.

Contemplating Wordsworth in Glenridding

The following morning reminded me why the Lake District attracts tourists in their droves. The cleared view from my room across the lake to the craggy hills in the distance was spectacular. After breakfast I went exploring Glenridding, taking a short walk first up the hills behind it and then down to the banks of the lake.

I had planned to go on a longer walk, but the heavy rains of the day before deterred me. I recalled a very soggy tramp through the fields the previous year in the Yorkshire Dales. Sitting by the side of the lake, listening to the birds tweeting in the trees, I felt I had made the right decision. I started to think of Wordsworth who composed his ‘I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud’ a few miles away in Glencoyne Wood

The view from my room at the Ullswater Inn
The view from my room at the Ullswater Inn

Although Glenridding is little more than a village, it has quite a few dining options. For lunch, I enjoyed an excellent vegetable soup with cheese scone at Helvellyn Country Kitchen. Mum had a spicy prawn dish and I had a vegetable soup with cheese scone. However, the highlight was to sit outside on the terrace and listen to the stream flowing past with the hills in the distance. At least at this time of year (end of April) Glenridding is a great place to relax.

Boat Ride on Ullswater Lake with Ullswater Steamers

During my walk around the lake, I saw one of the Ullswater Steamers chug its way across the calm waters. After lunch we went on a ride on Lady of the Lake. Built in Glasgow in 1877, it is thought to be one of the oldest running passenger vessels in the world; the wood panelling is quite beautiful.

Lady of the Lake
Lady of the Lake

Ullswater Steamers have a dock right beside the Ullswater Inn from which boats sail to Pooley Bridge on the far side of the eight-and-a-half mile long lake.

I love boat trips, especially when the weather permits me to sit outside, but the Ullswater Lake boat trip was special. The lake was formed by a glacier in the last Ice Age and is a hanging valley that reaches a depth of 200 feet. Much more significant are the cliffs that rise magnificently from its waters. Known as the dark lake due to the colour of its waters, it is thought to have been named after a Viking chief.

On our boat trip we saw numerous walkers traversing the Ullswater Way, a 20-mile walking route that Wainwright described as the “most beautiful and rewarding walk in Lakeland”. Our first stop is at Howtown Pier from where you can walk back to Glenridding. Alternatively, Ullswater Steamers has a smaller boat which goes to Aira Force, from where you can walk to the waterfall or contemplate Wordsworth’s daffodils, before returning to Glenridding.

We remained on the Lady of the Lake all the way to Pooley Bridge and back again. The whole trip (£24) took around two hours.

Inn on the Lake Ullswater

Fish and chips
Fish and chips

In the morning, I had been shown around the Inn on the Lake a rather magnificent hotel on the banks of Ullswater Lake, right next to the Ullswater Inn.

This has 15 acres of grounds that flow into the lake. While staying at the Inn on the Lake might be outside many a person’s budget, it also has a couple of restaurants including the Orangery, that are open to non-guests. As the weather was still blissful, we decided to have a couple of drinks on the terrace before dining in the Orangery with its glorious views.

We return to the Ullswater Inn to find several guests drinking on its ample outside terrace. Instead, we have a nightcap in the bar, before heading to our rooms. The following day we are to continue our journey from the Lakes through Cumbria and across the North Pennines to Newcastle.

Glenridding, Ullswater Lake Photo Gallery

Ullswater Hotels

The Ullswater Inn is part of the Inn Collection Group. To book a room at this delightful hotel, click here.

Ullswater Steamers

You can find details of the Ullswater steamer times and schedules here.

Ullswater Weather

Weather in the Lake District is notoriously variable. We suggest you double check here before you set off.

All images by Mark Bibby Jackson.

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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