The Ullswater Way is a 20-mile, waymarked walking route that completes a full circuit of England’s second largest natural lake. It takes in woods, meadows and low fells, covering everything from manicured paths hugging the base of the fells to rough and remote lakeside trails where rocks and exposed tree roots wait to trip up the unwary. Calling in at Pooley Bridge, the Iron Age settlement of Maiden Castle, Aira Force, Glencoyne, Glenridding and Howtown, the Ullswater Way also makes optional detours to Gowbarrow, Patterdale and the Cockpit stone circle. Two add-on loops visit Dalemain and Lowther Castle.
Strong walkers will be able complete the main circuit in a single day, but breaking it down into shorter, more manageable linear walks is possible thanks to the regular buses that run along Ullswater’s northern shore and the ‘steamers’ that sail between Glenridding, Pooley Bridge, Aira Force and Howtown. There’s even a five-day ‘Ullswater Way Saver’ ticket that makes it cheaper for walkers to use the boats to connect with their start and finish points.
To celebrate completing the entire circuit, walkers can buy pin badges with the words ‘I’ve walked the Ullswater Way’ on them. They’re available from local businesses, and part of the proceeds goes to the Lake District National Park to help maintain paths.
The route features a series of art installations celebrating the area’s heritage – ranging from boulders inscribed with the work of a local poet to the curved stone Roman Seat, created by a local craftsman beside the route of the country’s highest Roman road.