In the grounds of a Georgian mansion house overlooking Ullswater lake, Waterfoot Park is one of the premier spots in the North Lake District. Winning a number of awards from camping and tourism bodies in the UK, and with shops, pubs and heritage visitor attractions within easy reach, it is easy to see why this park is consistently ranked among the best in the region.
The imposing Mansion House is a striking and superb first impression for visitors to Waterfoot Park. It is home to the site shop, which sells locally sourced eggs and bacon, daily essentials, games and newspapers, among other items. Within the house is also an information desk for tourist attractions, and the Mansion House Bar, a spacious lounge area with free WiFi which leads on to the terrace and gardens, with spectacular panoramic views of Ullswater. The bar is open regularly during the evening and stocks a range of locally produced beers and craft gins. It’s the perfect place to kick off an evening on the site or for a quick drink before checking out the sights of the local village, Pooley Bridge.
The well-maintained site also contains plenty of activities for entertaining residents of all ages, including outdoor table tennis and badminton facilities, barbecue areas and a children’s play area. Dogs are very warmly welcomed at Waterfoot, with designated on-lead exercise areas on the park, and unlimited off-lead options with the Ullswater Way passing right by the park, dogs welcome in the Mansion Bar and on the Ullswater Steamers.
As with all the other sites owned by this group, Waterfoot Park operates a ‘try before you buy’ policy, so why not get in touch with the site management today to book your first visit?
Ullswater lake, the second largest lake in England, is often regarded as the most beautiful of the waters in the Lake District. The same lake that inspired William Wordsworth’s most famous poem, ‘Daffodils’, is even today largely unspoilt by tourism – unlike other Lakes – and this lack of commercialism, teamed with bends in the lake that provide awesome landscape, make Ullswater the perfect location for those who want to experience the most authentic version of the Lake District.
Take a trip on the lake
Waterfoot is just a short walk from the Ullswater Steamers pier, where you can catch heritage steamboats to locations all around the lake; the boat’s round-trip itinerary calls at Pooley Bridge, Glenridding, Howtown and Aira Force. A great way to spend a lazy afternoon is to ride the full round trip, with the ferry providing prime access to the stunning vistas of the Ullswater area and surrounding peaks, and the licensed bar on the lower deck keeping you refreshed! Another popular idea is to catch the ferry part way round and walk back along the shore for a flat and low-intensity activity. The Steamers run all year round, and connect directly to the most popular walking routes, offering visitors endless chances to sample the best of Ullswater.
Walking in Ullswater
Waterfoot Park is perfectly located to break out the walking boots and explore the area around Ullswater. The 20-mile Ullswater Way walking route, opened in 2016, circles the shores of the lake and can be walked in sections as individual day trips. The terrain of the sections varies between gentle pathways and open fells, so there is something for everyone! The route also passes through the towns of Glenridding, Patterdale, Pooley Bridge and Howtown, so why not stop off for lunch or cake in one of the local eateries and sample Cumbria’s famous locally sourced produce.
For the more adventurous resident, Ullswater is also home to Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain. Technically challenging, especially along the renowned Striding Edge, Helvellyn rewards those who brave its faces with stunning panoramas and a real sense of achievement. It is a favourite in the hiking world, so why not find out what treasures lie at the summit to cause hundreds of mountaineers to return time and time again to this old favourite.
A few miles away, Scafell Pike provides an even greater challenge for the adventurous hiker. Offering a range of routes to suit different approaches, from climbers who would just like to reach the summit to those who want to push their technical skills to the limit, England’s tallest peak is well worth checking out. For the less experienced hikers, the Lake District National Park offer guided walks up Scafell (as well as dozens of other routes), and also offer training sessions on how to handle winter walks, map reading or adverse weather.
Aira Force is one of the most famous and popular of the Lake District waterfalls, having drawn visitors to its dramatic hideaway for over 300 years. Demonstrating the power and beauty of nature, the 65-foot waterfall sits within the 750-acre Gowbarrow Park, which features an arboretum and a network of trails to explore, and is perfect for a day trip from Waterfoot. From the site, the Ullswater Steamer ferry will ride the length of the lake to arrive at Glenridding, on the southwestern shore of the lake, beginning your day out with beautiful views for the length of the lake. On alighting at Glenridding, the walk down to Aira Force is particularly scenic, with fantastic views of the Ullswater Valley. After visiting the falls, and taking in some of the other sights along the way (such as bridges and rare red squirrels), most people will be in need of refreshments – why not bring a picnic along for the day and eat it near the spectacular waterfall? Alternatively, you could purchase tea and a scone at the tearoom in the park.
For a longer day out, this adventure can be extended to include the walk up to Gowbarrow Fell. Quieter than the more tourist-heavy Aira Force, this fell provides a more off-road walking experience than the standard Aira Force, but there are rewards for those who manage it; both the river path leading up to Gowbarrow Fell and the vistas at the summit are truly something to behold.
Getting out on the lake
Ullswater is incredibly popular as a hub for sailing, with several sailing marinas positioned around the lake. The local sailing school, Ullswater Yacht Club, is open to the general public for those who don’t yet sail but would like to learn. The club also holds the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy every July from Pooley Bridge which, having started as a two-day race open to entrants of all abilities, has developed over the last 50 years into a full-blown sailing festival. Live music, a hospitality marquee and a trophy cruise featuring Ullswater’s own ‘Steamers’ are just some of the attractions that keep spectators flocking here year after year to watch the competitors attempt to win the coveted trophy, and enjoy the winner’s privilege of spending a night at the exceptional Sharrow Bay country house.
In typical fashion for the Lake District, adventure sports and outdoor activities are highly popular in the Ullswater area, and as such, Waterfoot is a haven for anyone with an adventurous streak. For water sports lovers, there are plenty of options to choose from, including canoeing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, diving and motor boat hire. For those who prefer to stay on land, there is an abundance of both indoor and outdoor climbing, bushcraft (the art of surviving in the wild) and mountain horseback riding. Finally, for those who prefer neither land nor water, hot air balloon rides lasting 3-4 hours are available, and provide a unique perspective on the natural wonder that is Ullswater.
From the site, the nearby village of Pooley Bridge is just a short walk – roughly ten minutes – with a variety of off-road routes each as beautiful as the next; across fields, through woods or alongside the lake – one thing is guaranteed, the views will be spectacular! Cumbria is proud of its local and independent businesses, and so while you won’t find any trendy bars or chain stores here, you will be showered with local delights; friendly, welcoming pubs sit alongside tearooms, a boutique gin shop, even takeaway pizza can be found here! It’s a great place to spend an evening while admiring the natural beauty of Ullswater.
Exploring the wider area
Just 5 miles from the M6, Waterfoot is extremely accessible by car, which also make it a great base for exploring the wider on day or weekend trips. Penrith, the former capital of the Lake District, is a ten-minute drive from the site, where supermarkets (including Booths, the northern staple) and a leisure centre can be found. There is also a 14th-century castle and the Penrith Museum, which houses a variety of historical objects, including Roman pottery. Half an hour by car is Keswick, a smaller town, but still well worth the visit, with plenty of activities on offer, including outdoor activity centres, brewery and distillery tours, wildlife tours, cookery schools, lakeside theatre and the famous Derwent Pencil Museum. At Waterfoot, there is plenty to do just on your doorstep!