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The second-largest lake in the Lake District and considered the most beautiful

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Aira Force
Ullswater Steamers
Glenridding and Patterdale
Ullswater is 15 kilometres long and 1 kilometre wide, making it the second-biggest lake in England. It has 3 bends, making it look a bit like a letter Z. Commentators have compared its shape to a dog's leg. Despite looking like a canine limb, Ullswater is often thought of as the most beautiful of England's lakes. The water is surrounded by mountains, trees and fields, offering beautiful views in a kaleidoscope of colours.

Ullswater Island
Photo andrew_j_w
As you'd expect, the area is covered in paths and trails, offering an inexhaustible supply of walking routes. Ambitious types often aim for the summit of Helvellyn, the third-tallest mountain in England. It's a tricky climb, but if you make it you're treated to views of Ullswater, and beyond. Just before the top you can traverse the very dramatic Striding Edge, which is a knifepoint path where two sides of adjacent valleys meet. The summit itself is actually a large, flat plateau, and in the past several daring pilots have landed planes right on top of the mountain!

Striding Edge from Helvellyn
Photo Spikycircle
A sight that's significantly easier to reach is Aira Force, Ullswater's famous waterfall. It drops for nearly 20 metres, in an area of attractive woodland. The land is owned by the National Trust, who have installed car parking and viewing platforms. This has made Aira Force one of the most visited waterfalls in England. The best view is probably from the bridge at the very top of the falls, looking straight down. If you can time your visit just right, the falls are especially impressive just after heavy rain.

Aira Force
Photo dumbledad
Dotted around the Ullswater's circumference are a multitude of sailing clubs and outdoor centres. Yachts and row boats are a common sight on the lake's surface, particularly at weekends, when the water is covered in all kinds of craft. Ullswater's fastest ever vehicle was the Bluebird K7, piloted by Donald Campbell in 1955. He reached 325 kilometres per hour, breaking the world water speed record. This only lasted for 4 months, when Campbell broke his own record by achieving an even higher speed on Lake Mead in Nevada.
Nowadays, Ullswater's most famous boats are its fleet of steamers. The oldest of these is called "Lady of the Lake", which first entered service in 1877. It's thought to be the oldest working passenger vessel in the world. There are three other craft in the fleet, of varying ages. These are known collectively as the "Ullswater Steamers", but this title is a little misleading. For many years now, the four ships have been diesel-powered. Nevertheless, these faithful vessels still very much look the part.

A steamer on Ullswater
Photo andrew_j_w
The main dock for the steamers is in Glenridding, a village on the lake's southern shore. The settlement first grew up 350 years ago, around a nearby lead mine. This was the biggest and most productive mine in the Lake District, and it provided the area with a stable income until its closure in 1962. Today, the village is focused around tourism. It's particularly busy during the summer, when the inns and hotels fill up with walkers. The route between Glenridding and Howtown, towards the north of Ullswater, is one of the prettiest and most popular in the Lake District.

Photo Tomorrow Never Knows
Plenty more walks originate in the nearby village of Patterdale. This tiny settlement is even smaller than Glenridding and is the starting point for various paths and trails. The village is situated within a pretty valley, also known as Patterdale. Alfred Wainwright, the famous walker and guidebook author, described it as his favourite valley in the Lakes.
Wainwright isn't the only person to appreciate the beauty of Ullswater's scenery. It also inspired William Wordsworth, the 19th century poet, to write a piece called "Daffodils". This quickly became one of his most famous works.

Silver Bay Walk

For a beautiful walk, start at the car park in Patterdale. Go left and follow the road to a sharp bend at this point go left, taking the minor road over Goldrill Bridge to the cottages at Rooking. Take the path onto the fell, through the gate climbing a little and heading left. The path rises above the lower path and heads in a Northern direction. Follow the path taking in the fabulous scenery until you reach the rocky outcrop of Silver Crag. Take care as you decend the ravine to reach the banks of Silver Bay which is a perfect spot for a picnic.
Visitor Information
Ullswater Tourist Information Centre, Main Car Park, Glenridding, CA11 0PA. Tel: 017684 82414
Ullswater Steamers operate a seasonal daily timetable. Fares depend on the journey, but a round the lake pass costs around £14 for adults, £7 children. Ullswater Steamers, The Pier House, Glenridding, Cumbria CA11 0US. Tel: 01768 482229

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