Great Glen Canoe Journey

Looking for a multi day canoe journey? The Great Glen Canoe Trail has something to offer everyone. It can be used by families, friends or groups doing their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The full trail goes from Fort William to Inverness following the famous Caledonian canal and through three major Lochs. However, it is possible to start and finish in a number of places, meaning it can be paddled as a continuous journey or broken down into 2 smaller trips depending on the time available and the age and ability of the group.

As the route comes close to the A82 in a number of places it is also possible to take advantage of a number of accommodation options from very basic wild camping with no facilities, through to hotel accommodation each night with options in between.

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The paddling is not technical, so it is suitable for people with little or no previous canoe experience. There is plenty of time to learn the basic skills to allow you to complete the trip. Paddling along the Caledonian Canal is relatively sheltered providing a good place to learn the paddle stokes you will need on the larger open sections of the lochs. The canal sections are often tree lined and can be beautiful in the Autumn.

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There are three lochs to paddle, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the most famous of them all, Loch Ness.

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Great Glen 1

These sections can provide flat easy paddling, but with just a small amount of wind this can turn into paddling in large waves. This can be fun if you raft the canoes together, making them very stable. If the wind is going in the right direction you can even use a purpose made canoe sailing rig to allow the wind to help with the journey.

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As you paddle along the Great Glen there are beaches to stop at and stretch your legs. On the canal sections you will find toilet and shower facilities. These can be really useful if you are choosing to wild camp.

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The trip can be done in either direction taking advantage of the wind and weather conditions. Overall the trip is not difficult, but it does require a reasonable level of fitness to allow you to paddle each day. You also need to portage your canoe on a trolley round the canal locks which you are not allowed to paddle through.

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So if you are wanting a fantastic multi day canoe journey through spectacular scenery then why not do the Great Glen Canoe Trail? This 60 mile trip can be done over four to five days. The best time to do it is from the end of April to end of May or mid September to the end of October. So why not give us a call and organise your Great Glen Trip?

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Snow Shoeing in Les Carroz

The village of Les Carroz is situated above the l’Arve Valley in the Haute Savoie in France. In the winter it is a part of the large ski area known as the  Grand Massif which includes Flaine, Morillon, Samoens & Sixt.

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Les Carroz Village

The village sits below the ski slopes on a flat area high above the main Arve Valley. It offers a range of accommodation to the visitor and outside of the peak ski weeks it is a quiet and pleasant place to base yourself.

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Snow Shoeing through alpine meadows

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Meadows and woodland make Les Carroz a great place to snowshoe

Like many ski resorts they have decided to cater for the non skier or those looking for a day off. They have designed six snow shoeing routes around the resort of various lengths and difficulties. The area also has a number of other possible routes, some waymarked and others not.

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Route waymarking

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Great views

You can spend time wandering through the woods and meadows to the north of the village on two waymarked tracks. Both involve short sections of ascent and descent through the woods. One of the trails heads out to a large boulder at Pierre a Laya . Legend says it was a stone that a giant shook out of his boot one day whilst out walking. From here the views of the mountains on both sides of the valley are fantastic.

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Pierre a Laya

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Alpine picnic

There are three trails that can be combined in various ways to give a variety of days out. One trail heads up to a cross called Croix des 7 freres. History says that a farmer had seven sons. When he died, the brothers felt the farm could not be split between them. As a result they fought to the death, the winner walked to the top of the hill, where he was then struck by lightning! The cross marks the spot where he stood. These routes also allow you to visit Les Tronchets where you can sample some excellent local dishes or drinks.

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Croix des 7 freres

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Stop for food and drink at Les Tronchets

Between some of the pistes and the gondola there is a fantastic trail that picks its way up the hillside through the forest using forest tracks and  narrow paths through the trees. If you are lucky and have fresh powder snow then the walk can be magical!

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Breaking trail in fresh powder snow

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Narrow paths through forests

Take the free ski bus to the cross country ski area of Agy. From there you can either spend the day snow shoeing on one of the pre made trails or better still follow a series of trails up on a ridge to walk back to Les Carroz.

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snow shoeing is a great thing to do with friends

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Explore a magical wonderland

So if you are looking for an alternative winter holiday then why not give snow shoeing a try? Why not hire a guide for the week?

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Why not hire a guide?

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Enjoy some great days out!

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A walk from Dufton in the Eden Valley

This walk starts from the pretty village of Dufton situated at the foot of the North Pennines in the beautiful Eden Valley. The name of the village is derived from the Anglo Saxon for a farmstead where doves are reared.

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Dufton village green

The village is set out around a green with long houses and barns forming the main buildings. There is a large hall at one end of the village. In the centre of the village is the pub the Stag Inn. This reflects the fact that this area was part of the Royal Hunting Forest of Inglewood. The Norman King William Rufus appointed wardens to guard the forest.

In 1670 the forest was leased to Sir Christopher Clapham, the owner of Dufton. He managed to find a loop hole in the lease which allowed him to fell the whole of the forest and sell the timber.

The Stag Inn

The Stag Inn

The village grew in the 18th Century when Dufton mine was opened by the London Lead Company. This Quaker owned company extended the village as well as introducing a water supply to the village. This can still be seen in the form of a well and a deeper channel to allow people to draw buckets of water from.

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Water channel in Dufton

The Latin inscription reads: “here is a clear fountain, shining with silver water. Shepherds do not defile it, nor she goets grazing on the mountain, nor other herd or flock. No flying thing nor wild animal molests it, nor branch fallen from tree”

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Water fountain Dufton

There is a small car park with public toilets in the village as well as space around the green if you need it. From the car park turn right and then right again down the footpath signposted to Dufton Ghyll. The field which is used for camping is known as the Grandee, which in the spring is carpeted in snowdrops.

The track drops down to the ghyll and crosses it by a stone bridge before rising up the other side. This wood belonged to the Manor of Appleby until 1962. The new owner then removed more of the mature trees for timber much to local objection. In 1980 the woods were purchased by the Woodland Trust. The trust have been working to re-establish the woods and develop them for future generations.

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Dufton Ghyll Woods in spring

At the junction take the right hand fork through the woods. You will cross another track. This is Wood Lane and was used by people heading to Dufton to have their horses shod at the smithy. Continue along the track and cross the stream by the bridge.

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Bridge in Dufton Ghyll Woods

On your left is the old mill race from the old corn mill. If you look carefully you might see remains of the race and mill. In 1884 the mill was converted to a crushing mill for the Barytes mined above the village.

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Old mill race

Cross the river and follow the path past an old hawthorn hedge into the woods. As you exit the woods you pass Coney Garth, on your left you will see the mounds of the old artificial rabbit warrens. These were built to house the medieval rabbits that were eaten during the winter.

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Medieval rabbit warrens

At the road you will see St Cuthbert’s church. Follow the track to the church. The church is named after St Cuthbert as it is said his body was brought here by the Lindisfarne monks escaping the Vikings in 875AD.

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St Cuthbert’s Church

In the church yard are graves of miners as well as many local families. To the right of the main door is a small carved medieval coffin cover believed to have been for one of the wardens for the hunting forest.

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Medieval coffin cover

From the church follow the track across the field past the field house; this is a good example of the field houses built in the 18th and 19th century. These were used to store animal feed to save travel from the farm house. Cross the footbridge and head to the road.

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Follow this past the house called “Heater” a local word used to describe a three cornered piece of land. Look behind the house for such a piece of land.

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Entering Knock past “Heater”

Enter the village of Knock with its two rows of long houses. These houses have their backs to the fell to protect them from the Helm wind that that can blow fiercely from the east over the Pennines. The main windows face south to catch the sun and warmth. The village was home to many quarry workers. Packhorse Cottage was the village pub in days gone by and a stopping point for the pack horse trains travelling across the Pennines.

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The old mission hall

From the village follow the track signposted for Dufton. Follow the track and then path through the fields to the bridge over Swindale Beck.

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Bridge crossing the beck

Go through the wood and then follow the indistinct path across the field, which is really enclosed moorland. These enclosed moorlands are known as allotments. Follow the vague path to the stone stile just above the beck.

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Crossing the Clapper Bridge

Cross the beck again by the clapper bridge. Above you is Dufton Pike and behind you is Knock Pike, composed of volcanic ash and tuff deposited from an old volcano. These rocks are similar to those found in the Borrowdale volcanics in the Lake District.

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view of Knock Pike and the ancient hawthorns

The other hills of the North Pennines are made up of rocks identical to those underlying the Lake District and probably the whole of Northern England. Look around for glacial erratics of Shap Granite as well as many glacial features that have shaped the landscape around you.

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Look for glacial features as you walk

The large track is the Pennine Way. Turn right to return to Dufton via it, but this walk turns left and follows the track gradually uphill. As you climb look up the valley to the left to see the old lead/barytes mine workings. You will pass ancient hawthorns which have been twisted in the wind. The track ends at a set of sheep pens. Go through the gate and turn right.

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Walking up the Pennine Way, view towards the mines

As you start to descend views of the Eden Valley open up. A rolling patchwork of fields and woods. Beyond are the Howgill Fells and to your right the Lake District.

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View down into the Eden Valley

You pass the gate that gives access to Dufton Pike. If you still have some energy left then why not head to the top for some great views?

Follow the track down following Pus gill, meaning pool stream. Water was taken from this stream to supply Dufton. You can see the old 18th Century drainage channels in a field on the other side of the stream.

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Shepherds hut with views to Dufton Pike

You come to a set of new sheep pens which still has an old corrugated iron shelter used by the shepherds. The track becomes hedge lined, with violets and wood sorrel shaded below as it makes its way back in to the village. As you enter the village turn right and head back to the car park.

This is a great walk along river banks, across farmland, through woods and on to moorland, with a variety of flora and fauna and historical buildings. So why not head to Dufton for a great day’s walk?If you want to get the best out of your walk, why not hire a guide to show you everything this fantastic place has to offer!?

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Helvellyn by the Edges in Winter

If you are looking for some adventure this winter then why not consider  climbing Helvellyn by its edges? This classic summer time scramble can offer a fantastic introduction to winter mountaineering!

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Helvellyn’s Edges in Winter

Start your journey in the village of Glenridding. There is a car park in the village next to the tourist information centre. Here you can get the latest weather forecast and fell top conditions at the weekend if you have not checked them out using the weatherline web site. In the village you will also find accommodation as well as places to buy equipment and food.

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Get the weather and fell top conditions

From the TIC cross over the beck and follow the road up the  side until it turns into a gravel track. Take the path past Ghyllside and then head up the Mires beck track. Be careful on this path as ice can form on it making it slippery, but ice can be avoided by walking around it. As you climb up this path views down to Glenridding and Ullswater start to open up. Stop to admire these, keeping an eye out for the steamers as they will still be running a winter service.

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View down to Glenridding from Mires Beck

As you reach the wall your map shows the path – follow this up on to Birkhouse Moor. Major footpath work has been undertaken to re-route the path and to allow the erosion caused by thousands of feet to recover. Follow the new path which takes you to the summit of Birkhouse Moor.

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Helvellyn from Birkhouse Moor

Birkhouse Moor is the peak you will have seen from the car park and is often mistaken by many tourists to be the summit of Helvellyn. Stop to admire the vistas before you – looking across the valley towards Ullswater, the High Street fells and beyond to the Pennines. Look the other way and you will now see the flat summit of Helvellyn and the two sweeping ridges that make up the major challenges of your day.

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Helvellyn from Red Tarn

Follow the wall along until you reach the corner. This area has been made famous by Wainwright as the “hole in the wall” in his pictorial guide. This signals the start of Striding Edge. At this point it is worth checking the weather and conditions to decide if Striding Edge is a good idea or if a more simple ascent of Swirral Edge is a better option.

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Striding Edge

Striding edge starts off as a broad ridge until High Spying How. Here it narrows and provides a number of options for the winter walker. Depending on your experience and skill you can choose a number of options in terms of the route you take. At the same time consideration should be taken of the snow conditions and the prevailing weather.

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Looking Down Striding Edge to High Spying How

You can climb along the summit ridge over rocky steps and down climb the rocky chimney. Or you can find one of the rocky paths that makes its way along the ridge just below the crest. The end of the ridge finishes with either further rocky climbing or a path up to the summit plateau. This final section can contain large amounts of snow and the path can be icy. Be careful to ensure the snow is stable as it can be avalanche prone.

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Summit Shelter

On the plateau head for the summit shelter. Hopefully it will not be full of snow so you can stop for a rest and some sustenance before undertaking the descent down Swirral Edge. If you have chosen a good day, the walk across the summit to the top of Swirral Edge is straightforward. In poor weather this can be a little more complicated as the summit is featureless other than the trig point. Make sure you avoid the edge above Red Tarn as people do fall through the cornice each year. It is also a popular easy winter climb and so often tracks can be found coming up it so make sure you do not follow them by mistake.

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Helvellyn Summit

From the top of Swirral Edge you will often find a track down. Like the final slopes on Striding Edge caution should be taken if the path is icy or snow conditions are unstable. The ridge becomes rocky with sections to scramble down or avoid on less distinct paths. Once at the bottom of the steeper rocky section the angle eases.

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Swirral Edge

Follow the ridge crest or one of the paths on the southern side of the ridge. The path then descends down to the outflow of Red Tarn. From here you can either walk back across to the hole in the wall and then return via Mires Beck or you can descend down to Greenside Mine and then follow the road from the Youth Hostel back to Glenridding.

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Looking Down Swirral Edge

The edges in winter provide a fantastic day out. It can be challenging but rewarding the winter walker/mountaineer with stunning views. Ensure you have the skills and equipment to enjoy this route safely. If not, then hire a guide/winter mountain leader who can lead you and provide you with any technical equipment you might need.

Ian EOA

Ian
Winter Mountain Leader

You should ensure you carry the following equipment:

  • rucksack + liner
  • waterproof jacket & trousers
  • Spare warm top
  • warm hat + gloves + spares
  • sun glasses, sun cream, lip balm
  • ice axe & crampons (and know how to use them)
  • map & compass (and know how to use them)
  • first aid kit (and know how to use it)
  • emergency shelter or bivi bag
  • lunch + hot drink + energy snacks
  • head torch and spare batteries
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Family ghyll scrambles

Looking for a fun family outdoor activity? Then why not try ghyll scrambling? What is it? A ghyll is the name used in the Lake District for a mountain stream. As the name suggests, ghyll scrambling is climbing up or down one of these mountain streams.

What makes it a great family activity? Well, there are a number of ghylls around the Lake District allowing a suitable ghyll to be chosen to suit the age and ability of the family.

Ghyll scrambling for all the family

There are small mountain streams with short rocky sections to clamber up and pools to play in – one pool is likened to a “bath tub”  and several children can sit in it at once in a row with one blocking the outlet so it fills a bit more, before letting the “plug” out! With  support from parents these ghylls can be tackled and enjoyed by young children.

Even young children can have a go

Having fun jumping into a pool

There are larger streams where you can climb up waterfalls with deeper pools to cross, requiring participants to get a little wetter! Other exciting experiences are walking along under a curtain of water and walking through a waterfall to a small cave –  these can still be tackled by children from age 7 upwards.

For older children and teenagers longer waterfalls can be ascended and sometimes there is a good place to jump in off the rocks!

Climbing beside waterfalls

For families looking for a wet ghyll to tackle there are a number of ghylls to choose from. These require participants to climb up waterfalls, cross pools and swim from time to time.

Pools to swim across

For a wet adventure you can come down some ghylls taking advantage of natural water slides, jumps off waterfalls into pools and sections of walking along flatter parts of the river.

Natural Water Slides

Pools to dive into or swim across

Whatever you fancy you are sure to have a fun time in a ghyll! Hire an instructor to take you to a suitable ghyll and provide you with the  right equipment to make your trip a safe and fun one!

Instructor Ian enjoying a jump in at the end of the ghyll!

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Helvellyn in Summer & Winter

Helvellyn stands at 950m which makes it the 3rd highest mountain in the Lake District. To get to the summit you can take a number of routes. Some of these appear in most guide books, some are a little more off the beaten track.

Helvellyn is part of a mountain ridge with the Ullswater valley to the East and Thirlmere to the West. The ridge of mountains runs from South to North with Helvellyn sitting in the middle of the ridge.

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View from Great Dodd on the Ridge

With two cars or by hiring a guide you could undertake the classic traverse of the ridge. It is better to do the traverse from North to South  if you prefer a steeper descent, or if not, do it in reverse. It is possible to start and finish your walk from either valley depending on where you are staying.

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Striding Edge

The most famous route starts and finishes in Glenridding. The route takes the walker over Helvellyn’s two classic ridges, Striding and Swirral Edges. These two ridges provide the walker with some great scrambling along rocky narrow ridges with views down to Red Tarn in summer as well as providing a good introduction to winter mountaineering.  If you have done this route in summer but lack the confidence to tackle it in winter conditions, then why not hire a guide to take you? Swirral Edge is shorter and a little less technical and so is often used to descend or as an easier ascent to be combined with another descent route.

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Swirral Edge in Winter

The popular but less technical routes can be found starting from both  sides of Helvellyn. The two most popular routes start on the Thirlmere side just south of Thirlspot and at Wythburn. Both of these  routes follow well established paths to the summit and can even be combined to make a circular walk if you take the path through the forest.

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Helvellyn from Thirlmere

On the Ullswater side you can walk up towards Keppel cove and then zig zag up to Whiteside before heading up to Helvellyn. You can then return the same way or go over Raise to Sticks Pass and back down through the old mine workings of Greenside down to Glenridding. Others may choose to head up Grisedale to Grisedale Tarn and then head north over Dollywaggon Pike to Helvellyn. Again, return is by the same way or to combine it with the route already mentioned.

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Greenside Mine Workings

It is possible to combine one of these walking routes to descend after making an ascent of one of the edges to make it a longer but easier way down.

For someone looking for alternative ways up Helvellyn there are a number of options. All of these involve some scrambling. From Glenridding you can head up Grisedale and then either head up the ridges that form the edges of Ruthwaite Cove, or you can head up to Kepple Cove and then ascend the north ridge of Catsye Cam and then traverse along the ridge to ascend Swirral Edge. All of these routes also make great winter mountaineering routes.

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Ruthwaite and Nethermost Coves

From Thirlmere you can ascend into Brown Cove and tackle one of a number of scrambles. In winter these scrambles turn into winter climbs so why not hire an instructor to take you up this way?

Brown Cove Crags

Brown Cove Crags

Whenever you choose to head up Helvellyn try to choose a good clear day. From the summit it offers great views, but in mist it can be a little confusing as the summit is pretty flat and featureless. In winter this can make it very difficult to find your way in mist when snow is on the ground. The edges in winter will need crampons and ice axe to help you cope with the ice and snow so make sure you are well equipped or hire a guide to keep you safe.

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Hire a Mountain Leader to keep you safe

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Helvellyn Summit in winter

Enjoy a great day out exploring this famous Lake District mountain!

If heading into the Lake District mountains make sure you have the following equipment:

  • Rucksack + liner
  • waterproof jacket and trousers
  • walking boots
  • spare warm top
  • hat and gloves
  • map + compass (and know how to use them)
  • food and drink
  • head torch + whistle
  • crampons + ice axe (winter)(and know how to use them)
  • first aid kit (and know how to use it)
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Family Canoe on Ullswater

The Ullswater valley in the Lake District is considered by many to hold the most beautiful of all the Lakes. It certainly has a great deal to offer visitors with fantastic walking as well as a number of ways to explore the lake.

Ullswater

Why not spend some time with your family or friends canoeing on the lake? It is a great way to see the mountains as well as explore the lake shore and islands. There are a number of places to start your trip from, depending on whether you need to rent canoes or you have a guide or your own boat. To get the most out of your canoe trip we suggest starting your journey at Glencoyne Bay.

Canoeing on Ullswater

This bay is just over a mile north of Glenridding. It has a car park owned by the National Trust next to the road. Park here and carefully cross the road to launch your boat from one of the shingle beaches here. The bay is often sheltered and so can give beginners a chance to practice some skills before heading off.

Glencoyne Bay

Head up the lake in the direction of Glenridding. Look up into the valley of Glencoyne. This valley hides cottages at Seldom Seen,the homes of some of the mine workers who mined high on the mountainside above the valley. See the 17C farmhouse at Glencoyne with its cylindrical chimneys and crowstepped gables.

Glencoyne

Follow the shoreline where there are small bays and beaches to land, stretch your legs and play games. You will spot an island called Wall Holm with some conifer trees on it. You can head to this and land or follow the shore if you wish.

Wall Holm

Soon Glenridding will come into view. The large hotel on the lakeshore is the Inn on the Lake. If you book ahead you could stop for afternoon tea.

Canoeing is Great for all the Family

Better still keep paddling along the shore round the spit of land until you come to the Glenridding steamer pier and land on the wide shingle beach. The pier house sells tea, coffee, cake and ice cream. There are also toilets here. This was the site of the launch of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 and there is a plaque commemorating this.

Glenridding Steamer Pier

From the pier, head out to the islands in front of you. This island is called Cherry Holm and you are allowed to land on it. Be careful as you paddle out to ensure there are no steamers coming in to the pier.

Cherry Holm

Head across to the other side of the lake and aim for the rocky outcrop on the far shore (East). This set of rocks provides a number of ledges which the brave can jump off. However, make sure you are jumping into deep water and know where to climb out afterwards. The lake is very cold even in the summer so make sure you have warm dry clothes to put on if you do decide to swim.

Jumping in to Ullswater

Now start heading north down the lake. You will come to a small bay with a rocky headland on your left and a treelined shingle bay. This is Purse Bay, a wonderful place to stop and enjoy some peace and quiet as this bay has no public footpaths to it.

Purse Bay

As you continue onwards keep your eyes out for a large rocky crag on your right. Look for a smooth slab which guides you into a small overhang. This is called the “Devil’s Chimney”.

The Devil's Chimney

The next bay contains the two islands of Lingy Holm. At first it looks like one island but as you get close you will find a shallow narrow gap between the islands. Why not see if you can squeeze through the gap?

Canoe Rafting and Sailing

Head round the headland into the wide curving bay. This headland is called Silver Point. One story as to why it is called this is that monks were ambushed here by robbers. Rather than hand over their silver they threw it into the lake.

Bay at Silver Point

You are almost back to your starting point. Paddle back across the lake, stopping off at Norfolk Island. This is a great place to stop and admire the views of the surrounding mountains as well as picnic.

Paddling to Norfolk Island

From the island it is a short paddle back to Glencoyne Bay. This canoe trip is ideal for families and less experienced canoeists. For the majority of the time you can follow the lake shore. The main crossing is broken up by the stop on Norfolk Island.

Enjoy a Day Canoeing

The head of Ullswater has many small bays, shingle beaches and islands to stop and land on. This allows many places stretch your legs, play games and relax. Enjoy a BBQ or picnic with a view. Stopping in the village of Glenridding allows you to enjoy cafes, hotels, shops and toilets.

Glenridding

You can hire canoes on Ullswater, but better still, hire a guide to make the trip easier and safer. A guide can provide canoes and all safety equipment, is very knowledgeable about the area, and can organise extra things like BBQs. Trips can last for half or a full day or even an evening.

So enjoy some time exploring Ullswater with your family and friends. Enjoy the Lake District’s most beautiful lake!

Ullswater

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