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How Far is Ullswater From Penrith? The Best Practical Guide to Getting There and 13 Charming Villages and Attractions Nearby

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17 July 2018 15:07

Penrith is to the North East of Ullswater if you’re travelling by car the northernmost point of Ullswater is only 5 ½ miles away from the centre of Penrith. Read below to find out how to get there and discover what there is to see and do.

Lake Ullswater View

Travelling from Penrith, you’ll first be able to see the lake from the A592 having followed the A66 east. The lake can easily be reached via the A592, coming from outside Penrith to Glenridding. You’re nearly there, welcome to Ullswater!

But that’s not all, there are various places around the lake to explore and unwind in. If you turn left you end up in Pooley Bridge on the B5320. If you turn Right continuing on the A592 you can reach Aira Force, Glenridding and Patterdale. The A592 skirts along the lake offering momentary views over the Lake through the trees.

Panoramic View Of Lake Ullswater

Ullswater’s coordinates are 54.5775°N 2.8751°W.

Methods of getting to Ullswater

Bus from Penrith - The 508 open top bus departs from Penrith railway station, which en route to Windermere, makes numerous stops along the north of Ullswater including Pooley Bridge, Watermillock, Aira Force, Glenridding, and Patterdale. The full timetable can be viewed here.

By train - Unfortunately, Ullswater itself cannot be reached directly by train. However, Penrith North Lakes station can easily be reached with regular trains running daily from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. As mentioned before, it is possible to get the 508 bus from Penrith rail station to a number of destinations along Ullswater. The 508 bus also makes its way back to Penrith from Windermere station via the same stops.

The West Coast mainline operates in the eastern area of the Lake District, connecting Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle with Glasgow and London. Direct trains also run from Manchester to Windermere. Local trains stop at Kendal, Staveley and Windermere, routes following the Cumbrian coastline are also available.

By taxi - It’s a shame, but you can’t always rely on public transport. If there’s a problem, or you find yourself in Penrith between bus times, itching to get to the lake, a taxi to Ullswater will sort you out. Taking a taxi from Penrith to Ullswater should take you approximately 11 minutes depending on where along the lake you’re headed.

By car - To get to Ullswater from the centre of Penrith by car, first head southeast on Little Dockray towards the A592. Turn right onto the A592 and continue to the roundabout. Take the first exit onto Ullswater Rd (A592).

At Skirsgill Interchange, take the 3rd exit onto A66. Then at the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto A592 and continue to Ullswater.

Why Ullswater?

Quieter than its larger, more southerly counterpart, Windermere, Ullswater is the perfect destination for holiday getaways.

Since the mid 18th century the lake has been popular with tourists and is the second largest in the English Lake District, approximately 9 miles long and 60m at its deepest point.

As well as nearly being the biggest lake in the Lake District, there are a few things Ullswater is known for: its views, walking routes, and the highly recommended Ullswater Steamers. The steamers are boats that are a proven tourist attraction, offering trips to and between Glenridding, Aira Force, Pooley Bridge, and Howtown.

Howtown on the shores of Ullswater

The first thing to figure out is where exactly around Ullswater you want to visit. There are various settlements around the lake including Glenridding, Pooley Bridge, Howtown, and Patterdale all of which have the potential to make great days out. Look below to find out the distances to several points of interest from Penrith:

Penrith To Ullswater Distances

Location Miles Km
Aira Force 11.2 18
Dacre 5.7 9.1
Dockray 11.7 18.8
Glencoyne Bay 12.3 19.8
Helvellyn 21 33.8
Howtown 7.9 12.7
Kirkstone Pass 20.8 33.5
Patterdale 14.4 23.1
Pooley Bridge 5.9 9.5
Sharrow Bay 8.4 13.5
Ullswater 9.4 15.2
Ullswater Steamers 13.4 21.6
Watermillock 7.7 12.4

More Information on all Locations Within the Ullswater Valley


The charming village of Glenridding is located on the southern shores of Lake Ullswater near the foot of Kirkstone Pass. Two of the main routes up to England’s third-highest mountain, Helvellyn, start from Glenridding offering options for beginner walkers or something more challenging for more seasoned walkers. When you reach the top, visibility permitting, you will be treated to breathtaking views across the Lake District to the Solway Firth and Scottish Hills to the north west, the Pennine Way to the north east, North Wales and the Irish Sea to the south and west.


A small village to the north of Ullswater, Dacre boasts an impressive history for its size. A Norman church with various items of archaeological importance, including the stone ‘Dacre bears’, stands in the village. As well as this, the 14th-century Dacre Castle remains in excellent condition, just south east of the village.

Pooley Bridge

By the River Eamont, is the lovely village of Pooley Bridge at the northern end of Lake Ullswater. Walking through Pooley is a pleasure, taking in historic scenes with a 16th-century bridge built across the river and several old quirky houses opposite the church.

To get there you want to take junction 40 off the M6, and follow signs for Keswick and A66. After about 1 mile you will come to a roundabout. Now take the road for the A592, continue on this road until you come to junction B5320. Turn left onto the B5320 (Pooley Bridge), go over the bridge and through the village until you reach a mini roundabout.

Glencoyne Bay

A gratifying walk along the waterside from Patterdale to Ullswater is Glencoyne Bay. This area provided the inspiration for William Wordsworth's famous poem, ‘Daffodils‘. William was known for frequent visits to Ullswater and composed a number of poems about the scenery, including Aira Force.

Aira Force

further up the hill from Aira Force

Located on the west side of Ullswater near Dockray, Aira Force is a National Trust owned site and a must-see for those visiting the area. The family-friendly walk has steps ascending to the spectacular waterfall, where from below a stone footbridge water falls from 72 feet to a rocky pool. It offers a picturesque setting that captures the natural beauty of the Lake District inspiring the likes of William Wordsworth.

Near the small car park above Aira Force

Sharrow Bay

Located to the east of the lake, Sharrow Bay is a short walk from Howtown, offering dramatic views of woodland and fells. The Sharrow Bay Hotel also features, famed for its afternoon tea which you can sit and enjoy while taking in the views across the water.

Sheep near Sharrow Bay on Lake Ullswater

Kirkstone Pass

Lake District walkers will be keen to visit Kirkstone Pass, a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,489 feet (454 m). Connecting Patterdale in the Ullswater Valley to Ambleside in the Rothay Valley, it is the highest pass in the Lake District that is open to cars (A592 Road).

Looking up to Kirkstone Pass


In the eastern part of the Lake District is the small village of Patterdale, close to Glenridding, located within the Eden District of Cumbria in the Ullswater Valley. Patterdale is popular with walkers and day trippers. A starting point for numerous fell walks including the Striding Edge path up to Helvellyn, Glenridding Dodd, Place Fell, High Street and nearly all of the peaks in the Helvellyn range. British author and fellwalker, Alfred Wainwright once stated it was his favourite valley in the Lake District. South of the village is the winding main road which leads across Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside and Troutbeck.


Once the capital of Cumbria in the 9th and 10th century, Penrith is a historic market town with a selection of interesting and traditional shops, situated less than 5 km (3 miles) outside the border of the Lake District. The beautiful town is the centre of the Eden Valley, Ullswater lake is just 6 miles to the south-west offering a mix of outdoor activities, including kayaking and paddleboarding. Penrith has a rich history, with the ruins of Penrith Castle and the Penrith Beacon, a monument built in 1719 sitting high above the town. The recently restored Penrith museum provides all information on the history and archaeology of the Penrith area.


Watermillock is a village that runs alongside Ullswater on its western shore, located between Glenridding and the busy village of Pooley Bridge. A farming community now turned holiday getaway, this is a wonderful base from which to explore the Cumbrian fells, lakes and valleys.

Brothers water

Brothers Water is the smallest of the Lake District lakes and is one of the first sights on the descent of the steep Kirkstone pass into the Ullswater valley. The site leads to a lovely lakeside and woodland walks with beautiful fell views. Its names came from the story of two brothers in the 17th century who drowned after falling through ice one winter. The lake is actually in the Hartsop Valley, slightly south of the Ullswater Valley.

Grisedale Tarn

Grisedale Tarn is a mountain lake, situated 3 miles from Ullswater to the east along the Grisedale Valley. Located between the fells of Dollywaggon Pike to its north, and the bulks of Fairfield and Seat Sandal to the south, legend says that the crown of the King of Cumbria lays under the waters where it was hidden after the defeat of Celtic King Dunmail in the great battle between the Anglo Saxons and Celts in 945AD. King Dunmail was defeated and his crown taken up the sharp path alongside Grisedale Beck and thrown into the tarn, which is 33m at its deepest.

Lanty’s Tarn

Lanty’s Tarn is a wonderful setting enclosed by woodland on Birkhouse moor, 3 miles on foot from Glenridding. It offers excellent views of Lake Ullswater and breathtaking mountain landscapes.

Red Tarn

Located in the eastern region of the Lake District is the little lake Red Tarn, Situated at 2356 feet beneath Striding Edge and Catstye Cam. Red Tarn is one of the highest tarns in the Lake District & Cumbria and the tarn is a popular stop for hikers and campers who wish to climb Helvellyn at dawn to catch the early views of the sunrise. It was formed when a glacier on the eastern side of Helvellyn melted and is now a habitat for the rare schelly fish.

Attractions in Ullswater and the Surrounding Area

Ullswater Steamers

The award-winning 'Ullswater Steamers' is must do for anyone visiting Lake Ullswater, operating cruises for 150 years on what many consider England's most beautiful lake stopping at beautiful locations including Pooley Bridge, Glenridding, Aira force and Howtown. An unforgettable experience, the cruises are connected to many wonderful walking routes in the Lake District National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ullswater Steamers


The Lake District is famed for its mountains as well as lakes, and the area near Ullswater is no different. South west of Ullswater stands Helvellyn, the third-highest point both in the Lake District and named 'Best British Walk' in 2018. Standing at 3,117ft (950m) in the south-west of the valley summiting Ullswater. A variety of routes up the mountain can be accessed from all directions. Walkers can expect to see glaciers and two pointed ridges on the east side, Swirral Edge and Striding Edge.

The mountains of the Ullswater Valley

In addition to the behemoth that is Helvellyn, the area around Ullswater also boasts smaller fells including Hallin Fell, Place Fell, Gowbarrow Fell, Arthur’s Pike, Bonscale Pike, Steel Knotts, Arnison Cragg, Glenridding Dodd, Great Dodd, High Street, and more.

The Ullswater Way also provides a 20-mile walk that is both challenging and satisfying for those after something slightly flatter. Details can be found here.

The Ullswater Way is popular with walkers

Water Sports

As Ullswater is a body of water, it’s an ideal place to partake in water sports and various other activities.

The Glenridding Sailing Centre offers boat hire and sailing tuition from the south west shore of the lake. Available to hire from the centre are a range of kayaks, canoes, traditional sailing boats and more.

Ullswater Paddle Boarding can be found on the southern shore of the lake, a short distance from Howtown. There you can complete a course to learn how to paddle board and afterwards hire your own to explore the lake from the unique standing position.

It’s also possible to swim in Ullswater if you can brave the cold. Information on doing so safely can be found here.

Wondering where to stay when exploring Ullswater and the Eden Valley?

Whether you want to be in Penrith itself, or one of the picturesque villages lining the shore of the lake, Absolute Escapes Lettings has a number of Ullswater cottages that make perfect bases. They also regularly have special offers so you could grab a bargain. If you’d like any more guidance on exploring the area, Absolute Escapes Lettings owner Shirley will be more than happy to be your virtual travel guide. Just get in touch via email or give us a call on 01768 892777.

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