20090913_Ullswater – Lakeside Walk – Patterdale to Howtown + Ferry
Who : Me and my sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Map : OS Outdoor Leisure Map No.5 – The English Lakes – North East
Start + End Point : 389,156
Approx Distance : 6.2 miles, (10 km)
Approx Heights : 1120/1140 ft (340/350 m) both up and down, but spread over several ups and downs.
Parking : We used Patterdale Youth Hostel’s residents only car park, as that is where we were staying. Otherwise parking is very limited. Alternatively lots more parking can be found at Glenridding just over a mile further down the valley (this would just need a small change to the start of the walk).
Summary : A fairly short, low level walk, following the eastern shoreline of Ullswater from Patterdale village to Howtown via Silver Point and Sandwick, Then taking the Ullswater Steamer (Ferry) back up the lake to Glenridding village, and then the final walk back to Patterdale.
I’ve done this walk several times now, in both directions and normally in inclement weather, but I never really tire of it. After the exertions of the previous two high level walks (High Street and Helvellyn via Striding Edge) and coupled with the fact we were to drive home during the afternoon we decided that an easier day was probably in order and I also figured it’d be nice to do this walk with the sun shining rather than as just a low level, bad weather route.
I would have preferred to take the steamer from Glenridding to Howtown and then walk back along the shore-line, but the timings for the first sailing would have meant a fairly late finish to the walk which would in turn have meant a late return home down the M6 which we didn’t want. So, we chose to set off fairly early hoping to pick up one of the first sailings coming back up the lake from Howtown … just adding a little pressure to the walk timings.
It was another absolutely gorgeous morning, with blue skies; no significant cloud cover; crystal clear sharp views of the high fells all around us highlighted by some wispy clouds hanging around the tops and some ethereal mists hanging over Ullswater. Despite some tiredness in our legs, from the day before, we set off with a spring in our steps. Leaving the car in the YHA car park we started off heading north on the A592 but after only a couple of hundred yards we turned right on a track immediately crossing a bridge over Goldrill Beck to reach a small group of houses at Rooking at the foot of Patterdale Common. There are several path possibilities from here, and our route was to turn north on a bridle track staying low on a farm track and we soon reached and passed Side Farm, ignoring a couple of side paths as we went. The path then rose a little, above and set back from the shoreline of Ullswater, as we came level with it’s southern edge. The farmland here doubles up as a camp site, and what a place to awake to …. the views across the head of the lake to the Helvellyn range of mountains were stunning! … In a way it was a shame the mists over the lake had completely dissipated by the time we’d got here, but the reflections in the almost mirror like lake were superb. The mix of high fells, wooded lower slopes and valleys, lakeland buildings, yachts, and the red funneled Ullswater Steamers was simply irresistible and our cameras soon saw the light of day again as we tried to capture the scene.
The track gave way to a well worn path undulating through the bracken clad hill side (the lower slopes of Place Fell), woods and craggy outcrops. The aspect across the lake remained undiminished (my personal favourite of the big lakes) but was soon to be spoilt (well just a little!) by the first motor boat of the day. We were passing a quiet bay, when the craft sped past, deliberately making a sweeping curve into the bay and back out again, its wake trailing behind like a huge sinuous snake. I’m sure the pilot of the little speedboat was thoroughly enjoying himself. The boat disappeared down the lake leaving the spreading wake to break up the reflections. The near perfect mirror images never really fully recovered from that point on, but that’s just a minor gripe as the views remained brilliant.
At one point we made a short detour out onto a small rocky peninsula thinking we’d have the place all to ourselves, only to find a local semi-professional photographer already finished for the day, packing up his tripod and other kit, he must have been up and about at the crack of dawn in search of the perfect shot! It turns out he’d been commissioned by the local tourist board to take some summer-time images of The Lake District, but such was the terrible weather all summer long that it was now September and he’d not completed his assignment – He told us that the previous two days and this morning had been by far the best 3-days in a row all summer and as such he was having to be really selective in his shots to give an impression of summer rather than the early autumn that the colours all around indicated.
After our brief chat, we set off again, taking a dog-leg to the right, to skirt around Silver Crag and into another area of woodland. Although quite easy, the path does have its ups and downs requiring a little effort but nothing compared to our previous two days on the tops. After skirting around Low Birk Fell and passing Scalehow Wood the path reaches and crosses Scalehow Beck by means of a wooden footbridge; the beck cascading down from the heights of Place Fell above us. I once saw a red squirrel hereabouts many years ago whilst walking on my own, but the honour of this was to elude us this time. Soon after leaving the bridge we were joined by a stone wall which the path followed down to the small settlement of Sandwick [at the dead end of a minor road that comes along the lake from Pooley Bridge]. A large rock by the side of Sandwick Beck afforded a good place for a refreshment stop.
Our route then dropped down the road passing the small group of buildings, to pick up the path again, crossing the beck and then across some soft pastureland and then entering Hallinhag Wood. The path undulates through the woods at the foot of Hallin Fell, at times being almost at shore level, at others climbing to give raised vistas across the lake, most notably at Kailpot Crag and Geordies Crag. The latter giving a view up the northern reaches of Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge.
The landscape softens considerably along this length of Ullswater, the mountains giving way to lower hills. By now the blue skies had clouded in quite considerably, in fact looking quite threatening – perhaps we were we going get wet right at the end of our weekend after all – but it did add a degree of drama to the scene. The final section headed under Hallin Fell towards the settlement of Howtown, down the side of Howtown Wyke, a sheltered bay where the steamer stops off between Pooley Bridge in the north and Glenridding in the south. The path here is very well defined – I reckon almost everyone who gets off the ferry probably walks this way. As we made our way along here we could see the steamer approaching from the north … We really didn’t want to miss getting on this sailing so picked up the pace … but the boat moves really quite quickly and it was making headway into the bay too quickly! … we picked up our pace some more. We were on the last flat bit of path within sight of the disembarking passengers onto the landing stage/pier – Our pace was almost a run – Were we going to make it before it set sail ? – I bet you’re on tenter-hooks…well we did make it, but only just! We found a seat towards the back of the boat and it promptly set off.
Wow, what a dash, but we now had some time to recuperate, all we had to do was enjoy the sailing back up the lake looking across at the shore we’d just walked along and the fells behind which until now we hadn’t been able to see. I particularly liked the views over Sandwick Bay, the vibrant green grassy fields set off by the fells and woods all around.
The lakeside path was clearly visible at times with numerous people enjoying the charms we’d enjoyed all morning. The sailing had us back to the landings in Glenridding in quick time which just left us the mile alongside the A592 back to Patterdale and the car for our drive home … and it hadn’t rained after all !
As I pulled away, despite the car seemingly running fine, a horrible noise, like a loud warning beep, kept sounding intermittently. I tried turning off, started up again, looked through the operating manual, turned things on, pulled away, stopped, began to get worried … and then eventually found the “fault” …. it was the radio telling us it couldn’t pick up a good signal (because of the surrounding mountains I suppose). Grrrrr, I felt a right fool, but at least the car was working OK and we were soon climbing the fantastic Kirkstone Pass Road. We couldn’t resist pulling into the car park at the top of the pass just to finish off a little lunch but mainly to take in a few extra final views of the surrounding mountains.
Another super day – Good weather, superb views and the end of another successful trip, reinforcing my view that this is one of my fave places in the country … No!, I’ll stick my neck out – THE fave place in the country – I just love it up here in The English Lake District!!!
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next post = Probably …. 20091115_Llyn Celyn to Pentrefoelas A-Walk