A couple of weeks ago a few friends had uploaded a run onto Strava which me and my beautiful wife thought looked brilliant. It involved catching the Ullswater Steamer from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding and then running back.
The day after Boxing day we grabbed our kit and Nelly, and headed off to the lakes. The Bridge in Pooley Bridge is currently being rebuilt after it was washed away during storm Desmond four years ago, but you can still cross the temporary bridge on foot.
There were a few of us waiting for the steamer that we chatted to, including a couple who were planning on walking back from Aira Force along the Ullswater Way.
Obligatory selfie on the steamer 🙂
It was a bit cold on deck, so after taking a few photos of Nelly we remained below deck until the boat arrived in Glenridding. Nelly wasn’t too sure what to make of the boat, and her nervousness was released in the form of a few sprout smelling pumps.
Off the boat and the first mile is flat along the road to Patterdale before crossing Goldrill Beck towards Side Farm. We camped at Side Farm almost four years ago, made memorable for how cold it was. From here to Howtown the trail undulates, with some good running sections and some very tricky sections where we walked.
At Howtown, one of the stops for the steamer, we followed the signs for the Ullswater Way. However, we opted to take the lower footpath which went through someone’s front garden, and a very nice front garden it was too. A couple of fields later and the signs ended, so we tramped up a hill to an abandoned cottage, shared a bar of chocolate, and continued along the more obvious trail.
A bit further on and the trail split, with one route heading up Barton Fell and the other going along the lakeside. The top of Barton Fell was covered in mist so we picked the low route, which dumped us onto the road. Fortunately the road on this side of the lake has very little traffic and after a mile we were on the lakeside footpath heading through a campsite and back into Pooley Bridge.
We were surprised during our run by how many people were also out walking. I’m guessing that Howtown back to Glenridding is very popular. Just as we were almost at our car we met the couple from the steamer returning from Aira Force. They looked fresher than we did.
Our route was just over 18km (11.4 miles), and while we didn’t push it, all three of us were tired when we returned to the car.
At some point next year we’re looking at running the Ullswater Way from Pooley Bridge to Aira Force on the northern side of the lake, catching the steamer to Howtown and then running back to Pooley Bridge over Barton Fell. There is also an organised walk around the lake using the whole of the Ullswater Way each year, which is about marathon distance. Alternatively you could take the steamer and follow our route, which I will be honest was an absolutely brilliant day out.