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Ullswater Steamers

Ullswater Lake, Cumbria

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Ullswater Steamers have been operating on Ullswater Lake since 1859. They provide a great way to see the lake and surrounding hillsides for non walkers. However for walkers they provide a great way of accessing some the spectacular hills in this area as well as tarns, like Lanty's Tarn and waterfalls such as Aira Force.

The Lady of the Lake, the oldest of the steamers, launched in 1877

Whilst out walking you may also get to see some wildlife too, such as Red Deer, Red Squirrels, Fell Ponies, Wild Daffodils, Fox Glove, and Red Admiral Butterfly. On and in the water look out for Red Breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Swans, Greylag Geese, Common Blue Damselfly, Brown Trout, Salmon and Minnows.

Ullswater Lake

Ullswater Lake was created by three separate glaciers and it winds a serpentine course through the surrounding landscape with the Lake Districts most famous mountain, Helvellyn at 3,117ft crowning the head of the lake. It is the second largest lake in the Lake District being 7.5 miles long and half a mile wide. At it's deepest it is 205ft deep, and during World War 2 it was used to test mini-subs, naval craft and flying boats.

Living Lakeside

It was also the lake used by Donald Campbell in 1955 to break the world speed record at an average speed of 202.32mph, today there is a restriction of 10mph to protect the habitat and make it safe for all boaters to use. It has also been an inspiration for writers throughout history including William Wordsworth who first visited in 1788 and its said his famous poem 'The Daffodils' was inspired after a walk beyond Gowbarrow Park, home of the Aira Force waterfall, and to this day the wild daffodils can be found in abundance on the lake shore. Also Samuel Coleridge and his piece the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Sir Walter Scott got inspiration for Ivanhoe, coming more up to date the famous Lakeland Walker A.W Wainwright, who said one of his favourite walks was the Lakeshore walk.

Walking around the Lake and enjoying all it has to offer

The Steamers

The main purpose of the steamers was not only to carry passengers and tourists but also Royal Mail, provisions, slate from nearby mines and lead from the Greenside mine in Glenridding. During World War 2 they also ferried soldiers from their training base at the Ullswater Hotel down to Glenridding. Today they primarily carry tourists, walkers and some local people.

There are currently 5 steam boats in the fleet, the oldest of which is the Lady of the Lake which was originally launched on 26th June 1877, she is believed to be the oldest working passenger vessel in the world. She has had a turbulent life having sank in 1881 and refloated, then again in 1958 during a severe storm she sank at her moorings. In 1965 she was badly damaged by fire and was out of service for 14 years, being restored and relaunched again in 1975. The next oldest is Raven, being 120 years old, and was launched 11th July 1889. At the time of her launch the Lady of the Lake was the only operating boat and it was pointed out by one of the shareholders, Mr Thomas Cook, that if a second boat was available during the height of the tourist season, if the Lady of the Lake should break down it would alleviate the problem. On the day of our visit it was Raven who took us on our journey.

The three other boats in their fleet are more recent additions. The Lady Dorothy was originally a sea going vessel from Guernsey and when she arrived in 2001 it meant that for the first time winter sailings were introduced.                           

In 2007 the Lady Wakefield (above), originally built in 1949, was recommissioned and was also in service on the day of our visit.

Western Belle, launched in early July 2010, moored up at Glenridding Pier

The last Western Belle, entered service in September 2010 and officially launched in 2011, she was moored up at the slipway at Glenridding Pier when we returned from our excursion around the lake.

There are three ports of call for the steamers, at the south end you have Glenridding while at the north end you have Pooley Bridge, but there is also a stop roughly halfway at Howton Pier. A trip from either end to Howton is around a 35 minute journey, whilst a trip from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge lasts around 65 minutes. If you do a round trip without hopping on an off it takes about 140 minutes although this includes a wait a either end so you can jump off and have a browse around the gift shop or take a drink in the cafe.

Howton Pier See Larger Image Pooley Bridge Pier See Larger Image

They have a number of ticket types depending on your requirements from singles to returns, but they also have two special rates one for walkers, the Walkers Value Ticket, and the other being the Round the Lake Pass which allows you to hop on/off all day at all 3 ports of call, allowing you to make the most of what the valley and lake has to offer.

Our Visit

On our visit we boarded the Raven at Glenridding and it was raining, so we are took the opportunity to use the cover of the upper deck to take photos and stayed on board all the way to the other end at Pooley Bridge.

Under the Canopy of the Raven, keeping out of the light rain.

At Pooley Bridge we got off and took the short walk into the village, where there are a few small shops, pubs, and some public toilets including for disabled. We then walked back to the pier and got back on the Raven for the return trip to Glenridding. Because of the weather, although we had a Round the Lake Pass, we didn't get off at Howton and take a closer look at the countryside and wildlife around, but it was a good morning out and we came back with loads of photos. The scenery from the boat is stunning even on a dull day.

A view taken from onboard the Raven

Returning to board the Raven at Pooley Bridge Onboard the Raven returning to Glenridding


Further information Grid



Ullswater Steamers, Glenridding, Cumbria

Ceremonial County:

Cumberland or Westmorland or Lancashire

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo: Google Aerial



Best Times to Visit:





Ullswater Steamers

Other useful websites:


Nearby Locations: Aira Force
Other Relevant pages: Lakes of the Lake District


Planning Grid


Ullswater Steamers, Glenridding, Cumbria

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

From Windermere take the A592 (Kirstone Pass) to Glenridding. Just before entering the village their car park is signposted off to the right.


From the car park through the


Parking at Glenridding end.


Small cafe and gift shop at the end of the piers at both Glenridding and the Pooley Bridge. For 1 there is a commentary option.

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Fantastic views of the surrounding mountains, boats and other water activities, wildlife, at each end typical Lakeland villages.

What to take:

Camera, long lenses, waterproof protection if raining, good walking boots if you intend to get off at Howton and walk in the surrounding countryside a little

Nature highlights:

Water residents both below and on top


Ullswater Steamers

Glenrdding Pier House




CA11 0US


01768 482669

Opening times:

All Year. Closed 24th and 25th December. No sailings on 30th October

See website for sailing times which vary depending on the time of year.


Single Glenridding-Pooley Bridge: Adult 8; Child (5-15) 4

Glenridding or Pooley Bridge to Howton:

    Single: Adult 5.80; Child 2.90

    Return: Adult 9.30; Child 4.65; Family (2+2 or 1+3) 25

Round the Lake Pass: Adults 12.70; Child 6.35; Family 30.75

Walkers Value Ticket: Adult 11; Child 5.50

Many other offers see their website for full details.

Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Blue Badge parking at Glenridding Pier end. Drop off point at Pooley Bridge. No motorised chairs or scooters allowed on pier and vessels for health and safety reasons. Gangways are designed to fit standard wheelchairs, there is one wheelchair available for use in each Pier House. Due to varying height of the Lake wheelchair access is not always possible. No wheelchair access on Lady Dorothy.
Special Needs Facilities: Toilets at the Glenridding Pier
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed: Yes

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Tracey Park Section: Transport Key:
Page Ref: ullswater_steamers Topic: Boats and Ships Last Updated: 08/2012


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