Ullswater and Patterdale in the English Lake District

by David Murray on 29 February 2012

in Cumbria, Lakes North and East, Mining, Ullswater

This past weekend my wife and I took a short trip by Ullswater, mostly in the car. I wasn’t very energetic but wanted to be outside so we drove from Appleby to Glenridding and up into Patterdale as far as the Brotherswater Inn.

Head of Ullswater - Glenridding

At the Head of Ullswater on a February Afternoon

It wasn’t an especially good February day weatherwise, but the Lake District is special at all times of years and even when a bit dull and misty. From time to time the light improved a little so I was able to get a few pictures to share here. We parked the car in Glenridding with the intention of taking a gentle stroll down to the Ullswater Steamers jetty but first diverted into the National Park information centre from which we emerged several pounds lighter (wallets, not body weight!) from some modest book-buying, and of course carrying the afternoon’s stock of Kendal Mint Cake.

Glenridding - looking toward Greenside

Glenridding - The Greenside Copper Mine is high in the valley

Glenridding today is a tourism centre but in past centuries was populated substantially by miners seeking lead and other minerals in the mountains around. For hundreds of years they tunnelled into the rock extracting (and sometimes failing to find) the precious ores. Looking at the scenery today it is easy to forget that the hillsides that look so solid are in fact penetrated in all directions by miles of tunnels, shafts and caverns – the work of twenty or more generations of the hardy people of these mountains.

Head of Ullswater looking toward Patterdale

Head of Ullswater - Looking toward Patterdale from Glenridding

Following our stroll to the jetty and back (no rucksacks, boots or anything too energetic today!) we headed up Patterdale in the car. I had hoped for a photo of Brotherswater but by this time the light was poor so we turned at the Brotherswater Inn, came back down to the National Trust carpark and ate our sandwiches. From here I took this photograph of Hartsop – another old mining village now devoted to tourism.

Hartsop and Gray Crag

Hartsop, Patterdale

Some day I’d like to walk up past Hartsop to Hayeswater and The Knott, stopping from time to time to reflect on the centuries when men toiled inside these mountains around Ullswater to give our ancestors the metals they needed for life in the towns and cities. Happily, there was rarely loss of life in Cumbrian metal mining, either here or at Coniston, the Newlands Valley and other major ore mining sites, but who today would want to climb a mile up a mountainside, summer and winter, to crawl into a dark damp hole at daybreak only to emerge as the sun went down or later? These were men!

Holes in the Crags

Holes in the Crags

Hotels by Ullswater

Holiday Cottage near Ullswater
Fellgate Farm near Ullswater

Click on the image above or here for details of Fellgate Farm, Helton, near Ullswater.
Holiday cottages elsewhere in the Lake District

Ullswater is easily visited while staying in centres such as Keswick, Ambleside and Penrith and here is a selection of hotels close to the lake.


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