Brotherswater, England, United Kingdom

Also known as:  Brothers Water, Broad Water, The Lake District

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Brotherswater.

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Brotherswater visitor and community guide

Surrounded by green fields, grazing sheep and scenic hillsides, Brotherswater is found in northwest England’s Lake District National Park. At 47 acres there is some controversy as to whether Brotherswater is one of the smallest lakes or largest tarns (mountain lake) found in the Lake District. Tucked into the Hartsop Valley and surrounded by the peaks of the Eastern Fells (mountains), Brotherswater is considered one of Lakeland’s prettiest lakes running, only 1/2 mile in length and less than 1/4 mile in width.

Located in Cumbria County, Brotherswater is one of the first places in the Lake District to be acquired by England’s National Trust. Broad Water was the original name of this glacially formed lake. At some point in the past the name was changed to Brotherswater, or Brothers Water, after two brothers tragically drowned in the lake. It is believed that the lake was once twice its current size, extending to the south toward Dovedale, a scenic valley with rushing waterfalls. Sediment flowing from mountainside tributaries may have filled over half the lake, creating the current one-mile shoreline. Brothers Water now drains into the southern end of Ullswater, a scenic lake lying three miles to the north.

Brotherswater draws anglers to it shore despite the lake’s limited access. Classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), no boats are allowed on the water, and fishing is restricted to the western shore. Brotherswater is one of only seven lakes within the United Kingdom that holds the endangered schelly fish, a member of the whitefish family. The lake also holds small populations of trout, perch and eels, and offers a pastoral scenic experience for any fisherman who wishes to cast a line in solitude.

Brothers Water has a maximum depth of 49 feet and an average depth of 24 feet. Reeds and water lilies cover much of the lake, providing habitat for the Canada goose, mallard duck and migrating birds. Brotherswater is not one of the more visited lakes, but the steep hillsides and surrounding craggy fells provide unrivalled panoramic mountain views sure to delight everyone passing this way. Looking south and southwest, three prominent peaks from the Eastern Fells fill the skyline. Hart Crag (2697 feet), Dove Crag (2598 feet) and High Hartsop Dodd (1703 feet) all offer spectacular scenery and a variety of hiking paths. Facing north, Brotherswater sits at the foot of Kirkstone Pass. At a height of 1,489 feet Kirkstone Pass is the highest pass open to motor traffic. From Brotherswater visitors catch a view of the valley of Patterdale and hills surrounding Ullswater.

Well marked paths criss-cross the fells and hills surrounding Brotherswater. Walkers can begin their treks at Cowbridge parking lot located off the northeastern shore of the lake. The two-mile trail leads south along the western shore, past working farms and medieval farm buildings. The path then loops around the southern shore where a grassy area and small beach (no swimming or camping permitted) make a pleasant picnic stop. After a peaceful respite, pick up the path as it skirts the eastern shore to the village of Hartsop before returning to Cowbridge. An old bridlepath has been paved by the National Trust and now accommodates wheelchair access to the shore of Brotherswater.

If you leave Brotherswater and continue walking two miles north, you will reach the village of Patterdale, a gathering place for extended hiking trips. One of the more popular and challenging walks is the Striding Edge path to Helvellyn. At 3,117 feet, the scenery is breathtaking but so is the challenge of climbing exposed ridges and rock towers to reach the peak. Other fells within easy reach of Patterdale and Brotherswater include Place Fell (2,156 ft.), High Street (2,718 ft), Fairfield (2,864 ft.), Saint Sunday Crag (2,759 ft.) and Glenridding Dodd (1,450 ft.).

Continuing north from Brotherswater, Ullswater lies less than a mile north of Patterdale. The setting of this lake is often compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, and it is said that the beauty of the lake’s daffodils inspired William Wordsworth’s poem titled “Daffodils.” With a length of nine miles and width of 3/4 miles, Ullswater is a popular recreational lake. Scuba divers, motor boats, row boats, canoes and sailboats are often seen on the water. Yacht clubs and marinas lie scattered along the shoreline with rentals ready and waiting. Always a popular attraction, steamers depart from the village of Glenridding and cruise the long lake.

Brotherswater and Ullswater are among the more popular hiking destinations in England’s northwestern region. Peaceful lake shores, rocky fells and charming villages provide limitless opportunity for exploration and adventure. When it is time for rest, hikers and visitors will find an excellent selection of campgrounds, bed & breakfasts, holiday homes, self-catering accommodations and real estate properties among local villages. The tiny village of Hatsop sits off the northeast end of Brotherswater with Patterdale and Glenridding resting off the southern end of Ullswater. Come to Brothers Water and find your holiday accommodation where the lush green valleys give way to waiting hills and rocky crags.

Custom Brotherswater house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Brotherswater

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Brotherswater

  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Brotherswater

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Brotherswater photo gallery

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Brotherswater statistics & helpful links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 47 acres

Shoreline Length: 1 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 515 feet

Average Depth: 24 feet

Maximum Depth: 49 feet

Water Volume: 1,216 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 21 days

Drainage Area: 5 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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