All Aboard the Ullswater Steamer With Kids

Ullswater, aptly nicknamed ‘the world’s most beautiful lake’ lived up to its name when we took the Ullswater Steamer with kids in a circular tour from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge and back. If you’re looking for easy entertainment with your kids whilst visiting The Lake District, definitely consider the Ullswater Steamer. We’ll explain why.

Ullswater Steamer
The view of Ullswater from Glenridding

The Gorgeous Lake Of Ullswater

The lake of Ullswater, at just nine miles long, is famous for being the stretch of water where Donald Campbell set the water speed record in 1955 at 202.32mph/325.53hmh. It is really quite remarkable when you consider how small it is.

At one end of the lake sits Pooley Bridge and at the other Glenridding.  Pooley Bridge was once famous for its 16th century, stone narrow, hump bridge which was sadly washed away during the floods of 2015. The bridge in its place is a modern and ugly contraption that will never move!! Although it is very practical it is totally out of keeping with the beauty of Cumbria.

You can walk around Ullswater on a 20-mile route or alternatively you can catch the Ullswater Steamer and hop on and off.

Ullswater Steamer
Thanks to Ullswater Way for this map.

Sailing The Ullswater Steamer

The Ullswater Steamer offers trips from Glenridding to Howtown and Pooley Bridge as well as a different ferry which traverses from Glenridding to Aira Force Pier. They operate all year round however in winter the operating hours are significantly limited.

The steamers have been in operation since the 1800s when they used to move people, post and goods from the Greenside Mine in Glenridding around the lake.  Today there are five steamers in force as it is such a popular attraction.  In the summer, the lake is packed full of boats, canoes, swimmers and divers but in winter, when the temperature drops close to 0 degrees Celsius, it is pretty empty and the waters quite still.

We went on Western Belle, you can check out the rest of Ullswater Steamers fleet here.

Ullswater Steamer
The Western Belle Steamer that we travelled on.

How Much Will It Cost?

A family ticket cost us £35 and the circular trip lasted about 2 hours. The timetable is reduced in winter, so make sure to check it before going.  The boats are also available to hire for private functions and events which I think could be really fun.

As part of the ticket, we were given a whopping 50% reduction to use on The Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway which is incredibly generous. Sadly on this occasion, we weren’t able to use it however as it’s valid for one year, we’ll be keeping hold of it!

Docking at Glenridding

Glenridding is a quaint town at the south end of the lake. It caters well for tourists with a number of eateries, hostels and other shops.

Ullswater Steamer
The steamers docked at Glenridding
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Our son, sitting abord the Ullswater Steamer and getting ready to leave Glenridding
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The view from the Ullswater Steamer as we left Glenridding.

What Should You Wear Onboard?

We went at the end of November and by the time we reached the boat it was 2 degrees C! That’s cold. Out on the open water with the wind chill, my fingers were frozen and my nose was bright red.  We wore lots of layers to keep us warm which was a big help. Still, taking photos left my hands exposed and raw.

Ullswater Steamer
The view from on-board the Ullswater Steamer
Ullswater Steamer
The view

Check Out The Colours Of Those Trees

We’d had some mild snow a few days previously and this contrasted beautifully with the orange of the bracken on the fells and the autumnal colours of the trees.  It was a beautiful sunny day and this enabled the loveliest of reflections.

Ullswater Steamer
Maiden Castle from the Ullswater Steamer
Ullswater Steamer
The view from the boat
Ullswater Steamer
the view over Ullswater from the steamer
Snow capped fell tops
Ullswater Steamer
Boat house on Ullswater

Surrounded By Fell Tops

Ullswater was formed from three separate glaciers and is entirely surrounded by fells and mountains that form a Z shape.   This MAP gives you a better example of just how many.

View of the fell tops
Ullswater Steamer
Snowy fell tops
Ullswater Marina
Ullswater reflections
Ullswater Steamer
Reflections on Ullswater
Fell tops

Pooley Bridge

The pier at Pooley Bridge is situated just a short walk from the town and you must cross the new bridge that I wrote about earlier. The bridge crosses the River Eamont which feeds Ullswater.

The pier has its very own webcam which you can check out!

Pooley Bridge Pier
Pooley Bridge Pier
Our youngest enjoying the her time on the Steamer
Houses near Pooley Bridge

Docking In Howtown

Howtown is a tiny hamlet on the east of Ullswater that has a really nice hotel (open for bar lunches). Just three miles from Pooley Bridge and seven miles from Glenridding, you could do this walk suggested by Ullswater Steamers.

The Ullswater Steamer
Ullswater Steamer
Howtown Pier from Ullswater
Ullswater Steamer
Howtown Pier
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Howtown Pier with the snowy mountains

Heading back to Glenridding

Ullswater Steamer
Snowy mountains
Ullswater Steamer
Trees lining the banks of Ullswater
Ullswater Steamer
The sun setting on the snow topped fells
Approaching Glenridding
Ullswater Steamer

Search For & Book Local Cottages Here

Use this map to search for local cottages and hotels in the Lake District.

What Else Could You Do In The Lake District With Children?

Are you looking for ideas on things to do in The Lakes with kids? We have loads of posts and ideas on ways to entertain them.