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For the community centre in Ullswater Walk, Doncaster, England, see Scawsby.
Looking towards Ullswater from Pooley Bridge - geograph.org.uk - 87782.jpg
Ullswater from Pooley Bridge, 1989
Location Lake District, England
Coordinates 54°34′39″N 2°52′30″W / 54.5775°N 2.8751°W / 54.5775; -2.8751Coordinates: 54°34′39″N 2°52′30″W / 54.5775°N 2.8751°W / 54.5775; -2.8751
Type ribbon lake
Basin countries United Kingdom
Max. length 11.8 km (7.3 mi)[1]
Max. width 1.02 km (0.63 mi)[1]
Surface area 8.9 km2 (3.4 sq mi)[1]
Average depth 25.3 m (83 ft)[1]
Max. depth 63 m (207 ft)[1]
Water volume 223 x 106[1]
Residence time 350 days[1]
Surface elevation 145 m (476 ft)
Settlements Glenridding, Pooley Bridge
References [1]
Lake steamer at Howtown Pier, Ullswater, circa 1895

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the English Lake District, being approximately nine miles (14.5 kilometres) long and 0.75 miles (1,200 m) wide with a maximum depth of slightly more than 60 metres (197 ft). Many regard Ullswater as the most beautiful of the English lakes:[2] it has been compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. It is a typical Lake District narrow "ribbon lake" formed after the last ice age when a glacier scooped out the valley floor and when the glacier retreated, the deepened section filled with meltwater which became a lake. A total of three separate glaciers formed the lake. The surrounding mountains give Ullswater the shape of a stretched 'Z' with three distinct segments (or 'reaches') that wend their way through the surrounding hills.

For much of its length Ullswater forms the border between the ancient counties of Cumberland and Westmorland.

The village of Glenridding, situated at the southern end of the lake, is popular with tourists of all kinds but especially with mountain walkers, who can scale England's third highest mountain, Helvellyn, and many other challenging peaks from there. The village has ample accommodation including two Youth Hostels and camp sites. The village of Pooley Bridge is at the northern extremity of the lake. Its narrow 16th-century bridge straddles the River Eamont as it flows out of Ullswater; it is overlooked by Dunmallard Hill, which was the site of an Iron Age fort. On the western side of the lake near Aira force waterfall lies numerous excellent accommodation sites including the Brackenrigg Inn which overlooks sweeping views of the dramatic landscape.


The origin of the name 'Ullswater' is uncertain. Whaley suggests " 'Ulf's lake', from Old Norse personal name 'Ulfr' plus Middle English 'water' influenced in usage by Old Norse 'vatn' 'water', 'lake' ....'Ulfr' is also the Old Norse noun meaning 'wolf', and Hutchinson thought that the name might refer to the lake as a resort of wolves, or...to its elbow-shaped bend (citing a Celtic 'ulle'...)"[3]

Some say it comes from the name of a Nordic chief 'Ulf' who ruled over the area;[4] there was also a Saxon Lord of Greystoke called 'Ulphus' whose land bordered the lake. The lake may have been named Ulf's Water in honour of either of these, or it may be named after the Norse god Ullr. Hodgson Hill, an earthwork on the northeast shoreline of Ullswater may be the remains of a Viking fortified settlement.[5]

Sport and leisure[edit]

Ullswater's attractions include the Ullswater 'Steamers' which offer trips around the lake calling at Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Howtown. In June 2015 a new Pier was opened at Aira Green, close to Aira Force and the popular walking area of Gowbarrow Fell. The new jetty is the first new stopping point on Ullswater for more than 50 years and a new boardwalk has been built at Aira Green to help passengers disembark.

The 'Steamers' operate all year round and were originally working boats which from the 1850s moved mail, workers and goods to and from the Greenside Mine at Glenridding, which closed in 1962. Today there are five 'Steamers' plying the waters of Ullswater: 'Raven', 'Lady of the Lake', 'Lady Dorothy', Lady Wakefield, and, since 2010, 'Western Belle'. All the boats are now powered by diesel, with the two oldest, Lady of the Lake and Raven, having been converted from steam in the 1930s. People often catch the 'Steamer' from Glenridding to Howtown and then return on foot along the lake shore to complete one of the most popular and scenic low-level walks in the Lake District. Ullswater is home to Ullswater Yacht Club and the prestigious Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy, which is held annually on the first weekend in July. This regularly attracts upwards of 200 sailing boats and comprises 2 races, both of which cover the full length of the lake.

Ullswater is very popular as a sailing location, with sailing marinas situated around the lake. At weekends especially, the lake is dotted with many yachts but there are facilities also for diving, rowing and motorboats. Another of Ullswater's attractions is the spectacular waterfall of Aira Force midway along the lake on the western side. (Ullswater lies partly within the National Trust's Ullswater and Aira Force property.) Close to the falls is Lyulph's Tower, a pele tower or castellated building built by a former Duke of Norfolk as a shooting box.

In 2012, artist Robbie Wild Hudson swam the entire length of Ullswater. The swim took 6 hours, from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge, and was completed as inspiration for a project that offers paintings and drawings of the famous landscape from a different perspective.

Donald Campbell set the world water speed record on Ullswater on July 23, 1955, when he piloted the jet-propelled hydroplane "Bluebird K7" to a speed of 202.32 mph (325.53 km/h).

Ullswater was one of the filming locations used in the film Miss Potter

Notable people[edit]

Just south of Pooley Bridge on the lake's eastern shore is Eusemere, where anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson (1760–1846) lived; the house gives one of the best views of the lower reach of Ullswater. William and Dorothy Wordsworth were friends of Clarkson and visited on many occasions. After visiting Clarkson in April 1802, Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem "Daffodils" after seeing daffodils growing on the shores of Ullswater on his journey back to Grasmere. Wordsworth once wrote of "Ullswater, as being, perhaps, upon the whole, the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the Lakes affords".[6]

The diplomat Sir Cecil Spring-Rice lived on the shore of Ullswater for a number of years, at Watermillock, and there are several memorials erected at nearby Aira Force to members of the Spring family.[7]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McNamara, Jane, Table of lake facts, Environment Agency of England and Wales, retrieved 2007-11-13 [dead link]
  2. ^ www.ullswater.visitor-centre.co.uk. Calls Ullswater "England's most beautiful lake and so much more".
  3. ^ Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.351. ISBN 0904889726. 
  4. ^ www.ullswater.visitor-centre.co.uk. Gives meaning of name as "Ulfs Water".
  5. ^ The Hodgson Clan Website
  6. ^ Wordsworth, William (1926). Wordsworth's Guide to the lakes (5th edition (1835), with an introduction, appendices, and notes textual and illustrative by Ernest de Selincourt ed.). London: Humphrey Milford. pp. xxxii, 203, p.14. 
  7. ^ http://www.visitcumbria.com/pen/aira-force/

External links[edit]