Ullswater Steamers have been operating on Ullswater Lake since 1859. They provide a great way to see the lake and surrounding hillsides for non walkers. However for walkers they provide a great way of accessing some the spectacular hills in this area as well as tarns, like Lanty's Tarn and waterfalls such as Aira Force.
Whilst out walking you may also get to see some wildlife too, such as Red Deer, Red Squirrels, Fell Ponies, Wild Daffodils, Fox Glove, and Red Admiral Butterfly. On and in the water look out for Red Breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Swans, Greylag Geese, Common Blue Damselfly, Brown Trout, Salmon and Minnows.
Ullswater Lake was created by three separate glaciers and it winds a serpentine course through the surrounding landscape with the Lake Districts most famous mountain, Helvellyn at 3,117ft crowning the head of the lake. It is the second largest lake in the Lake District being 7.5 miles long and half a mile wide. At it's deepest it is 205ft deep, and during World War 2 it was used to test mini-subs, naval craft and flying boats.
It was also the lake used by Donald Campbell in 1955 to break the world speed record at an average speed of 202.32mph, today there is a restriction of 10mph to protect the habitat and make it safe for all boaters to use. It has also been an inspiration for writers throughout history including William Wordsworth who first visited in 1788 and its said his famous poem 'The Daffodils' was inspired after a walk beyond Gowbarrow Park, home of the Aira Force waterfall, and to this day the wild daffodils can be found in abundance on the lake shore. Also Samuel Coleridge and his piece the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Sir Walter Scott got inspiration for Ivanhoe, coming more up to date the famous Lakeland Walker A.W Wainwright, who said one of his favourite walks was the Lakeshore walk.
In 2007 the Lady Wakefield (above), originally built in 1949, was recommissioned and was also in service on the day of our visit.
The last Western Belle, entered service in September 2010 and officially launched in 2011, she was moored up at the slipway at Glenridding Pier when we returned from our excursion around the lake.
There are three ports of call for the steamers, at the south end you have Glenridding while at the north end you have Pooley Bridge, but there is also a stop roughly halfway at Howton Pier. A trip from either end to Howton is around a 35 minute journey, whilst a trip from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge lasts around 65 minutes. If you do a round trip without hopping on an off it takes about 140 minutes although this includes a wait a either end so you can jump off and have a browse around the gift shop or take a drink in the cafe.
They have a number of ticket types depending on your requirements from singles to returns, but they also have two special rates one for walkers, the Walkers Value Ticket, and the other being the Round the Lake Pass which allows you to hop on/off all day at all 3 ports of call, allowing you to make the most of what the valley and lake has to offer.
On our visit we boarded the Raven at Glenridding and it was raining, so we are took the opportunity to use the cover of the upper deck to take photos and stayed on board all the way to the other end at Pooley Bridge.
At Pooley Bridge we got off and took the short walk into the village, where there are a few small shops, pubs, and some public toilets including for disabled. We then walked back to the pier and got back on the Raven for the return trip to Glenridding. Because of the weather, although we had a Round the Lake Pass, we didn't get off at Howton and take a closer look at the countryside and wildlife around, but it was a good morning out and we came back with loads of photos. The scenery from the boat is stunning even on a dull day.
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