Ullswater Steamers

4 mins read
The Ullswater 'Steamers'
The Ullswater 'Steamers' offer trips on the lake throughout the year Image Source: Vivienne Crow

A Historic Journey

Grab yourself a drink, sit back and enjoy the ride. And what a ride this is! The Ullswater ‘Steamers’, a vital component of the Lake District National Park, are part of one of the largest heritage fleets globally. They navigate England’s second-largest natural lake throughout the year, offering an award-winning experience. This experience gives visitors a breathtaking view of the World Heritage landscape, uniquely characterized by its seasonal beauty. Whether draped in winter’s snow or bursting with the lush greens of summer, the scenery viewed from these steamers is truly sublime.

Exploring the Lake District Aboard

A boat trip on the Ullswater Steamers is an excellent method to appreciate the lake and its encompassing fells. Additionally, it provides the chance to embark on a variety of linear walks in the area. You can choose either low-level routes on the well-marked Ullswater Way or high-level ridges connecting one fell top to another. Popular routes include the paths linking Pooley Bridge with Howtown, and Howtown with Patterdale and Glenridding. One option is to walk from Glenridding to the spectacular Aira Force waterfall. After completing a circuit on Gowbarrow Fell, which offers some of the best views of Ullswater, you can return by boat. In early spring, this area bursts into life with flowers that inspired William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”. Dorothy Wordsworth, after walking the lakeshore in April 1802, famously noted the beauty of these flowers in her diary, leading to her brother’s iconic poem.

Autumn woods and the ‘steamer’ pier at Pooley Bridge

The Fleet of Ullswater Steamers: Tradition Meets Modern Comfort

The Ullswater Steam Navigation Company, with a history spanning over 160 years, commenced its operations in 1859. Initially, it served to ferry passengers, mail, lead, slate, and general provisions across the eight-mile length of Ullswater. Among the company’s fleet, two original nineteenth-century steam yachts, the Raven and the Lady of The Lake, remain in service. These historic vessels, though initially steam-powered, were converted to diesel in the 1930s. They are accompanied by newer additions like Western Belle, Lady Dorothy, and Lady Wakefield.

Today, the Ullswater Steamers navigate between Glenridding, Aira Force, Howtown, and Pooley Bridge. The piers at Howtown and Aira Force serve their purpose as simple piers. In contrast, Glenridding and Pooley Bridge Pier provide additional amenities, including toilets and indoor seating areas where drinks and snacks are available for purchase.

Ullswater Steamers Timetable

The timetable for these cruises varies with the season. It’s advisable to check the website before planning your trip. Keep an eye out for special events like Santa cruises in December, summer evening buffets, photography workshops, and wildlife events. However, be aware that services are sometimes cancelled due to exceptional weather conditions.

Ullswater Steamer

Pet-Friendly and Cyclist-Accessible

Dog owners will be happy to learn that the Ullswater Steamers welcome pets on board. Additionally, cyclists can bring their bikes on all boats, space permitting, except for the Lady Dorothy, for an extra fee.

Onboard Amenities of Ullswater Steamers

All boats in the fleet are equipped with licensed bars and toilets, ensuring comfort during your journey. The Ullswater Steamers offer below-deck saloons for sheltered comfort. However, the true charm lies in the upper-deck experience, where passengers can enjoy the wind in their face while admiring the passing beautiful scenery.

The Ullswater Steamers provide a unique and historic method for visitors to explore the Lake District National Park’s stunning lake. Boasting over 160 years of operating history, these cruises are an essential experience for anyone visiting the area. They promise an unforgettable journey, rich in scenic beauty and historical significance, with every trip.