Ullswater is unarguably of exceptional beauty unrivaled by the other lakes. It is dominated to the south by Place Fell which rises dramatically from the lake’s waters, and ensures its enduring feeling of wilderness. The lake is a series of basins dug by glaciers, which have carved out fascinating valleys especially to the east where Martindale and Sandwick lie. Much artistic inspiration has been drawn from this landscape, perhaps among the most famous work being that of the romantic poet, William Wordsworth who composed his marvelous poem Daffodils after walking on Ullswater’s shores.
One of the best walks in the National Park is the trail that runs along the eastern shores of Ullswater. From Townhead’s front door you can go south towards Glenridding, or north to Howtown. At either settlement, or at Pooley Bridge you can catch one of the Ullswater Steamers which will make your walk a circle and give you a wonderful perspective of woodlands and fell from the Lake; very much a favourite with children. Whichever path you choose you will be guaranteed breath- taking views and dramatic scenery .For the more serious walkers there are some of the best mountains and fells on your doorstep, the most famous being Helvellyn and the precipitous Striding Edge which you can reach from Glenridding also St Sunday Crags, Fairfield and Place Fell, and to the west Blencathra and Skiddaw Forest.
There are many stone circles, including the 'cock pit' above Pooley Bridge, another fascinating gravel circle at Yanwath, and the famous Long Meg at Selkeld, Castle Rigg at Keswick.
Aira Force is worth a visit, over on the other side of the lake and is probably the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls. The main force falls some 70ft below a stone footbridge.
There is a huge amount of fun to be had on the lake with hire of craft: paddle, sail and motor are possible, instruction and fishing tackle and licenses available at Glenriddding and Pooley Bridge. Exploring the islands and lake edge at the Glenridding end is especially exciting.
There are three main villages. At the far south is Patterdale with a little shop and the Lion Inn. Above this is Glenridding, offering shops, a garage and selection of cafes and inns, cycle hire along with Ullswater Steamers terminus and boat hire at St Patrick’s Pier. At the far northern head of the lake is Pooley Bridge, again with a small but good selection of shops, cafes and inns.
On the eastern shore is one of the Lakes most famous hotels, The Sharrow Bay, with its Michelin starred restaurant. Nearer to Townhead and where the Steamers stop is the charming Howtown Hotel. Entering this takes you back into Edwardian times.
Penrith, the nearest market town, is twenty five minutes away and en route to Scotland. Notable for its handsome red sandstone architecture, it remains a true market town, unaffected by tourism. It has a useful Leisure Centre with a pool, climbing wall and bowls. A ruined castle is set in an attractive park where you can play tennis, pitch and putt, or crazy golf. The town is on the Coast to Coast cycle route and the sale, hire or repair of cycles both pedal powered and electric is a speciality. Rheghed, just outside on the A66 is the largest underground building in Europe and has fuel, excellent outdoor shops, gifts and delicatessen and a huge three- dimensional cinema screen.
Alston is another market town 15 minutes beyond Penrith where there is a dry ski slope, and in good conditions skiing.
Further afield is Keswick, a bustling market town set between the peaks of Skiddaw and Derwentwater. Keswick has many good shops, restaurants and cafes, along with museums, a great theatre, cinema and leisure centre. At the lake you can take a boat trip or hire one for yourself and explore the shoreline and little bays.
North of Keswick are two more great attractions. Firstly the Honister Slate Mine is an adventure for all ages. Set at the summit of the Honister Pass it is the last working slate mine in England where you can go deep underground on a fully-guided tour. It is at Honister, the Via Ferrata experience (climbing a mountain peak using cable and harness) is unique in Britain, and thought to be the most thrilling activity in the Lake District.
Secondly, Whinlatter Forest to the west of Keswick, is England’s only true mountain forest planted after the first world war. If you are lucky you will see ospreys and red squirrels. Here your children will love Wild Play where nine different play areas take you on a journey through the trees and include a climbing wall, water features, giant swings and a secret path.
In short the location around Townhead and this part of the northern lakes provides a wealth of things to do and see, and will cater for a wide range of preferences. We do recommend that you do a little research before you come, and certainly make sure you are well equipped to greet the fells and lake in all weather.