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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!