Walk: Howtown to Glenridding, Ullswater, Cumbria

Board a historic steamer before walking one of Wainwright’s most-loved paths in the Lake District National Park.

Lake and mountains
Published: September 29th, 2022 at 9:30 am
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Catch a boat across one of the Lake District's most beautiful waters and return on a 6.6-mile-long shoreline path.


Famous fell-walker Alfred Wainwright called this south-shore walk – accessible by boot or boat only – “the most beautiful and rewarding in Lakeland”. The water stretches out for 9 mikes (14.5km), while to the south sits the rising skyline of the Helvellyn Range.

Ullswater Steamer at Glenridding, Lake District
Ullswater Steamer at Glenridding, Lake District/Credit: Getty

Howtown to Glenridding walk

6.6 miles/10.6km | 4 hours | moderate

1. All aboard

The Ullswater Steamer from Glenridding to Howtown has been operating for over 150 years. Starting your walk by boarding the ferry means you don’t have to worry about missing it at the end, so relax and enjoy the fabulous views. On the left shore is Glencoyne Wood, where Wordsworth saw those daffodils.

River Duddon in the Lake District National Park

2. Cooling dip

In need of sustenance? Head to the stone-walled Howtown Hotel tearoom (turn right on the road by the pier), serving soup, sandwiches, sausage rolls and cakes. To rejoin the way, take the track opposite the hotel turn-off.

Follow the signs to Sandwick. If you’ve worked up a sweat, you can jump off the rocks at Kailpot Crag and swim at Sandwick Bay. Follow the narrow, rocky, rooty path into Hallinhag Wood to spot red squirrels and three poetry-inscribed stones.

At Sandwick Bay, turn inland, crossing a beck to skirt Scalehow Wood. The path climbs as Scalehow Force waterfall gushes down, before curving right to the shore.

This straightish section to Silver Bay, another paddling point, gives expansive lake and islet views. Damselflies flicker above the water’s surface, and overhead you may spot nesting peregrine falcons.

One of the UK’s oldest herds of red deer roams the slopes of Place Fell; you’ll hear them bellowing in rutting season.

Scalehow Force, Ullswater
Scalehow Force spill into Ullswater/Crexit: Geograph

3. Last leg

Turn right at Side Farm, across the green fields of the Patterdale Valley and over Grisedale Beck to the A592.

To refuel, continue to the village centre for Helvellyn Country Kitchen’s burgers, wraps, salads, soup and sandwiches, Fellbites’ substantial sandwiches, including Cumberland sausage, or Let It Brew’s toasted baguettes, coffee, local ice cream and cake.


Howtown to Glenridding map

Howtown to Glenridding walking route and map

Ullswater map


Adrienne Wyper is an experienced travel journalist, who’s written about walking, wildlife-spotting and the natural world for national newspapers and magazines.


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