Ullswater, England, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - England - England's Northwest -

Also known as:  Ullswater Lake, The Lake District

Cumbria, in northwest England’s famous Lake District, is home to diverse natural features that attract visitors from near and far. Ullswater, a natural freshwater lake, is one of those unmatched attractions that lures travelers from around the world. The area that Ullswater meanders through is scenic and undeveloped compared to other lake areas in the English Lake District. Its beauty is legendary, with the extraordinary area often being compared to the grandeur of Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne.

This glacial ribbon lake forms a flattened “S” shape, which runs from southwest to northeast and contains three reaches or segments that curl through the river valley in a serpentine path. At 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) in length and 0.75 miles (1,200 meters) in width, Ullswater is the second largest lake in the English Lake District. Its maximum depth is 207 feet (63 meters), though it runs about 83 feet (25.3 meters) deep on average. The lake is a natural border between two English counties, Cumberland and Westmorland. Many different water sources feed into Ullswater. Flooding, therefore, is not uncommon to this area. In the 1960s, Manchester Corporation Waterworks Department built an underground drainage system to help control the water levels without the need for a dam. The series of tunnels divert floodwaters away from Ullswater to help prevent flooding into towns, homes, businesses and farmlands.

The village of Glenridding is located at the southwest end of the lake, which is a popular gathering place for tourists, featuring campsites and youth hostels for younger and more adventurous vacationers. On the northeastern end of the lake, the village of Pooley Bridge lies at its foot and is another popular place for visitors. The River Eamont begins here, flowing out of Ullswater, and in the village a bridge dating back to the 16th century still stands and connects the two sides of the village that are parted by the head of this river. This narrow but sturdy stone structure is one of the main historic attractions in Pooley Bridge, after which the town is named.

Outdoor activities in the Ullswater area are nearly limitless. Mountain climbing is a large draw, as Helvellyn Mountain, at 3,117 feet (950 meters), is the third highest peak in England and is located close to Glenridding at the head of the lake. Camping is of popular around this lake, one of the most northerly situated in Cumbria. Rock climbing, walking, mountain biking and wildlife viewing also interest area holidaymakers. Ullswater, with 22 miles (35.4 kilometers) of shoreline, has footpaths and trails by the hundreds, with lakeside views as well as mountain, river, valley and woodland vistas along the routes. From a casual stroll to trekking up steep hikes, most abilities and interest levels will find a perfect option for them. Orienteering and horseback riding are also popular locally. Travel by vehicle can get visitors to most parts of the lake, but the southeastern shore is best traveled on foot for the closest and clearest views.

On the water, Ullswater again offers countless recreational choices. Fishing for pike, perch and brown trout in these very clear waters is a popular pastime, as are boating on the lake–from rowing to sailing to windsurfing, from canoeing to kayaking to yachting–and swimming and diving. Swimmers are urged to use caution, however: The lake’s shoreline is mostly shallow, but it quickly drops off to incredibly deep–and unexpectedly cold–waters that can cause even an excellent swimmer to end up in a dangerous situation.

On the western side of Ullswater is the most well known waterfall in the Lakes District. Aria Force waterfall has a 65-foot (19.8-meter) drop and is surrounded by walkways for views of this beloved natural attraction. Woodlands surround these falls, so getting to them involves a hike. Parking is available, but tourists should expect a two-hour walk from the car lot. For those who are up for the trek, it promises unforgettable sights and sounds.

Ullswater is mostly privately owned by three different entities: Dalemain Estates, The National Trust and The Lake District National Park Authority. Because of this, some areas of the lake and the shore are off-limits to the general public. However, public beaches that are small but plentiful make the area accessible to those interested in leisure time along the shores. Ullswater is located in the northeastern part of The Lake District National Park, so its abundance of wildlife and protected species is another gift to vacationers. Red deer, red squirrels, golden eagles, dragonflies in great numbers, and barnacle geese are not uncommon sights in the area; the pristine area is covered with ancient woods and the undisturbed habitats of most of its native animals.

Close by, within 5 miles (8 kilometers), are several family-friendly stops with fun and unusual features. At the Alpaca Centre, just down the road from nearby Penrith, there is a gallery of arts and crafts, a tearoom and a working farm where alpacas star as the main attraction. Down this same road a bit farther is Rheged, a town where stories about wildlife adventure are presented on an enormous movie screen. The Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre is also only 5 miles (8 kilometers) away, this time from Pooley Bridge on Askham Road. This exhibit showcases a collection of birds of prey that are rare or endangered, including owls, hawks, falcons and eagles.

Regional foods and drinks are popular with visitors in the small villages that bookend the lake. There are cafes and bistros, beer gardens and snack bars, formal restaurants and vegetarian and other specialty restaurants–something for everyone. Other popular venues and shops in the towns include a seasonal farmers’ market, local produce stands, coffeehouses, artisan shops, craft workshops, and pottery and jewelry studios and galleries.

Passenger boats that were once steam powered but have since been converted to diesel–and still known as steamers–offer tours of Ullswater that are memorable and very entertaining. The three stops, at Glenridding, Howtown and Pooley Bridge, provide service around the lake in all seasons. The steamers number four total, including The Raven, The Lady of the Lake, The Lady Dorothy and The Lady Wakefield (the latter being the newest, coming into service in 2007). The original purpose of these steamers, some of which date from 1850, was to transport workers and perform mail delivery services between the towns and the Greenside lead mine. The mine closed in 1962, so the steamers now give tourists a unique view into the past whenever they leave their ports.

Although Ullswater is surrounded by tourist-friendly towns that are less densely crowded and less developed than other areas of the Lake District, there is no lack of choice for lodging. In the close vicinity are nearly 50 hotels, bed and breakfasts and other full-service accommodations, from rustic to luxurious. About a dozen campgrounds and caravan sites dot the area. For those looking for self-catering accommodations, dozens of privately owned cottages, apartments, homes, bungalows, chalets, log cabins and complexes are available for rentals. From a small and romantic lakefront cottage that sleeps two to a rurally located converted barn that has been updated with all the modern amenities and can sleep a large family or two, holiday rentals are in no short supply. It may be difficult to decide which option to choose because so many are appealing and storybook-esque. Property buyers will also like the selection of real estate in the area. Again, many kinds of homes in a variety of locales make for a homebuyer’s delight.

Things to do at Ullswater

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Ullswater

  • Brown Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Trout

Ullswater Photo Gallery

Ullswater Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Water Level Control: Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

Surface Area: 2,199 acres

Shoreline Length: 22 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 476 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 476 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 486 feet

Average Depth: 83 feet

Maximum Depth: 207 feet

Water Volume: 180,789 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 350 days

Lake Area-Population: 830

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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