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Ullswater, Silver Point - - 19792.jpg
Ullswater looking towards Silver Point.
LocationLake District, England
Coordinates54°34′39″N 2°52′30″W / 54.5775°N 2.8751°W / 54.5775; -2.8751
TypeRibbon lake
Basin countriesUnited Kingdom
Max. length11.8 km (7.3 mi)[1]
Max. width1.02 km (0.63 mi)[1]
Surface area8.9 km2 (3.4 sq mi)[1]
Average depth25.3 m (83 ft)[1]
Max. depth63 m (207 ft)[1]
Water volume223×10^6 m3 (181,000 acre⋅ft)[1]
Residence time350 days[1]
Surface elevation145 m (476 ft)
SettlementsGlenridding, Pooley Bridge

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the English Lake District, being about nine miles (14.5 km) long and 0.75 miles (1.2 km) wide, with a maximum depth a little more than 60 metres (197 ft). Ullswater's visitor centre website describes it as the most beautiful of England's lakes;[2] it has been compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland as a tourist destination. It is a typical Lake District narrow "ribbon lake" formed after the last ice age by a glacier scooping out the valley floor, which filled with meltwater. Ullswater was formed by three separate glaciers. The surrounding mountains give it the shape of an extenuated 'Z' with three segments or reaches winding through surrounding hills. For much of its length, Ullswater formed the border between the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland.


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, 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]


Place Fell viewed across Ullswater.
Place Fell viewed across Ullswater.

The village of Glenridding, situated at the southern end of the lake, is especially popular with mountain walkers, who can scale England's third highest mountain, Helvellyn, and other challenging peaks from there.[citation needed] The village's accommodation includes two Youth Hostels and camp sites. The village of Pooley Bridge is at the northern extremity of the lake. Its narrow 16th-century bridge straddled the River Eamont as it flows out of Ullswater but was washed away during the floods that affected Cumbria in December 2015; 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 accommodation sites, including the Brackenrigg Inn. Other villages situated on Ullswater include Howtown, Sandwick and Watermillock.

Sport, leisure and tourism

Lake steamer at Howtown Pier, Ullswater, circa 1895.
Lake steamer at Howtown Pier, Ullswater, circa 1895.
Sailing is a common activity on Ullswater.
Sailing is a common activity on Ullswater.

The lake has been a tourist destination since the mid-18th century. By the 1890s, Ullswater had become a fashionable holiday destination for the British aristocracy, thanks to its good sailing conditions and proximity to fell shooting estates. In 1912, Wilhelm II, German Emperor visited Ullswater and toured the lake on the MY Raven, which was re-fitted to act as a royal yacht.[6] A shooting lodge (The Bungalow) was constructed for the Kaiser at Martindale by the major local landowner, Hugh Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale.

Ullswater's attractions include the Ullswater "Steamers" which offer trips around the lake calling at Pooley Bridge, Glenridding, Howtown and Aira Force.[7] These sail all the 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 still five "Steamers" on Ullswater. People often catch one from Glenridding to Howtown and then return on foot along the shore, to complete one of the most scenic low-level walks in the Lake District.[citation needed]

A 20-mile walking route the Ullswater Way was officially opened in 2016 by writer and broadcaster Eric Robson. The route can be walked in either direction and from any starting point. The route uses existing Public Rights of Way and quiet roads which circumnavigate Ullswater. The aim is to encourage walkers to enjoy the valley, appreciate the scenery and support local businesses.[citation needed]

Ullswater is also a sailing location with several marinas round the lake. It is home to the Ullswater Yacht Club and the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy, held annually on the first weekend in July. This regularly attracts over 200 sailing boats for two races covering the length of the lake. There are also facilities for diving, rowing and motorboats. Another of attraction is the 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. The Sharrow Bay Country House hotel stands on the lake's eastern shore.

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

In 2012, artist Robbie Wild Hudson swam the length of Ullswater, from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge, in six hours. He did so as inspiration for a project that offers paintings and drawings of the local landscape from a different perspective.[citation needed]

Ullswater Yacht Club (UYC) is based on the eastern shore of the lake between Pooley Bridge and Howtown. It also offers a sailing school program open to members of the public.

Notable people

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 his famous 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".[8]

The politician William Marshall lived on the Ullswater shore at Watermillock. His descendants, the diplomat Sir Cecil Spring Rice and his brother Stephen Spring Rice, were brought up there. Nearby Aira Force has several memorials to members of the Spring family.[9]

In 1962 Lord Birkett led a campaign to prevent Ullswater from becoming a reservoir. He died one day after the proposition was defeated in the House of Lords and he is commemorated with a plaque on Kailpot Crag. The Birkett Regatta, held each year in early July, involves a two-day round-the-island race in Birkett's memory. The year 2018 was the 60th anniversary of the event, with Lord Birkett's granddaughter in attendance.[10]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h McNamara, Jane, Table of lake facts, Environment Agency of England and Wales, archived from the original on June 28, 2009, retrieved 2007-11-13
  2. ^ 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. ^ Gives meaning of name as "Ulfs Water".
  5. ^ The Hodgson Clan Website
  6. ^ History of Ullswater 'Steamers' on the company website (accessed 25 July 2015).
  7. ^ Ullswater "Steamers" company website. Accessed 25 July 2015.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^

External links

This page was last edited on 14 May 2020, at 06:10
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