A few weeks ago myself and a couple of friends set off to conquer the Ullswater Way – a beautiful 20-mile walking route that has recently been open up around Ullswater in The Lake District. The route is well way-marked and links together older paths with some new permissive ways that have been opened up.
We chose Patterdale as our starting point and set off in an anti-clockwise direction around the lake. Beautiful summer flowers carpeted the meadows of the valley, and in truth it would have been easy to spend several hours taking photographs around here – but with 20 miles still to go this wasn’t an option!
The route then makes it way along the eastern shore of the lake, winding in and out of beautiful silver birch woodland. This was a section of path that I am familiar with from past trail runs, but it was nice to be able to take it in at a gentler pace. You get some great views back across the lake towards Glenridding and at this time of year foxgloves were prominent within the bracken.
After around 6 miles you reach Howtown, where we had a well deserved rest and snack before heading onward towards the top end of the lake and Pooley Bridge.
This next section of the path climbs gradually upward towards an area known as ‘The Cockpit’ before following an easy track down into Pooley Bridge.
This is a beautiful section of the route where we were treated to an abundance of wildlife – including 2 Peregrine Falcon circling the crags above, Wheatear, Redstarts, Treecreepers and Sand Martin. You also get some lovely views looking back down towards the southern end of Ullswater.
Pooley Bridge makes an ideal place to stop for lunch, and it was an easy decision to treat ourselves to a pint in The Sun inn for good measure. A great beer garden in which to rest weary legs.
One of the great things about the Ullswater Way is that it’s easy to just do part of the route and pick-up an Ullswater Steamer back to your starting point. This makes it great for people who aren’t sure about the whole 20 miles, mixed parties where some only want to do part of the walk or even multi-day adventures. Probably fairly unique for a walk of this distance and a distinct advantage over many other long distance walks.
Getting the steamer back to Glenridding wasn’t for us though, and resisting the temptation of a 2nd pint it was time to get our packs back on.
Crossing the newly installed bridge across the River Eamont, the Ullswater Way then picks up some new paths to initially head slightly away from the lake and towards the hamlet of Bennethead.
This provides a change of scenery as the footpaths wind across fields and farmland, presenting some more distant views of Ullswater and a chance to get close to some sheep and cows.
After Bennethead the route then picks up a path that heads back towards the lake and the incentive of reaching Aira Force. Winding through forestry en-route you are treated to more fantastic views across Ullswater, although the sight of the steamer making its way serenely across the lake may make you wish that you were sat on-board!
Reaching Aira Force is definitely one of the highlights of the route as the water crashes down the rocks into the river below. I’d carried a tripod all the way around the walk specifically to take a long-exposure shot at Aira Force – an extra weight on my back, but one that I was glad I’d put up with.
The paths around the falls are well maintained by the National Trust and there is a decent car park and visitor center/cafe. If you’re in the Ullswater area but not able to walk around the lake then this is one location that is easy to visit.
We were now on the homeward leg, and the stretch between Aira Force and Patterdale is without doubt the easiest section of the walk – following well surfaced footpaths and a very small section of road walking. As Glenridding came into sight we knew were as good as back. A celebratory pint in the White Lion before walking back to the car.
Overall the Ullswater Way makes a fantastic day out. The scenery is beautiful, the paths are well way-marked and their are numerous pubs and tea-rooms to provide refreshment en-route. With the option of doing part of the route and then taking the steamer back across the lake it is open to all abilities. What more could you want!
Prints of some of the images above will soon be available from within my galleries, but in the meantime please get in touch if you’re interested.
If you want more information then feel free to comment, and I’d also highly recommend visiting the dedicated website at http://www.ullswater.com/the-ullswater-way/
I’ve had a few queries regarding equipment that I’ve used for the photos on this walk. I’ll provide a few pointers below…
I’ve recently switched to a Fuji XPro2, having previously been using exclusively an X100T. I love the X100T, but after a year or so with a fixed focal length I decided it was time to give myself some more lens options again. The Xpro2 deliveres fantastic image quality in a small discrete package. For this walk I took along the 18-55m, 90mm and the 14mm. As it happened all the images on this blog are with either the 18-55mm or the 90mm.
The 14mm is a truly outstanding lens, but it just wasn’t a focal length I happened to use this time around.
I also took along a tripod and some Lee Filters – a couple of grads and the Big Stopper.
I don’t think I’m alone in having more than one camera bag to carry my stuff in! But for hiking I’ve recently picked up a Mindshift Horizon 34L Rucksack. This has been a complete revelation for me, with it’s unique design allowing you to access the camera compartment on the move. As well as making life easier for me, my walking companions also appreciate this – as it significantly reduces the time I’d normally spend faffing around in my bag! With room for plenty for hiking kit as well as camera kit it’s my favourite bag at the moment.
Most of the images above were taken as grab-shots on the go. I’d have loved to have spent 20 minutes setting up every shot, but with 20 miles to cover and 2 walking companions this simply wasn’t going to happen. A compromise I was happy to make in the circumstances.
In terms of processing all the above images have been processed in Capture One. Lightroom is obviously the most popular choice nowadays, but when push comes to shove Capture One, in my opinion, simply delivers a better quality file – particularly with the XTrans sensor.
Any other equipment questions, then feel free to ask via the comments or social media!
Thanks for reading,