Red deer cruises, RPSB bird experiences and red squirrel cruises have all graced the ‘Steamers' schedule in recent years, backed by children's activities that animate the world of wildlife, on-board competitions that highlight the wealth of flora and fauna around the lake and activities co-ordinated by a very big nature lover - Ullswater ‘Steamers' mascot, Sammy the Squirrel!
Ullswater ‘Steamers' environs are home to red deer, brown trout, salmon, perch, minnows, the rare schelly, red squirrel, Holly Blue butterflies, the Common Blue damselfly, red-breasted merganser, cormorant and many more species besides - including, most recently, osprey.
Fell ponies roam the Helton Fells whilst lakeshore trails hold an abundance of flora - Bracket Fungus, Wood Cranesbill, Pink Purslane, Wood Sorrell, Butterwort, Lady's Bedstraw and much bracken and fern. See just some of our nature facts and figures below.
Topography and Biodiversity
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District being approximately 7.5 miles (12 km) long and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide with a maximum depth of approximately 205ft (62m). The approximate time of the water cycle through the lake is approximately 300 days.
The valley was formed through glacial shifts and shaped as it today, by years of turbulent geological activity. During a volcanic upheaval approximately 450 million years ago, faults in the rocks allowed movement; Howtown is located on such a fault which gives Ullswater Lake its uncharacteristic kink.
The Valley today is dominated by three main groups of rocks which along with faults determine the characteristic of the landscape. These rocks types are the Borrowdale Volcanics, Skiddaw Slates and the Carboniferous Limestone.
Where the Andesite, Basalt and Rhyolite of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group meet the Skiddaw Slates, a fault line occurs. Faults are followed by water courses as they can be eroded more easily creating spectacular features such as Scale How, Swarth Beck and Aira Force.
Ullswater is a typical narrow “ribbon lake” formed after the last ice age when the deepened section of the valley floor filled with meltwater from a retreated glacier.
The lake runs a serpentine course in three reaches. At the head of the lake stands the Helvellyn range; Helvellyn crowns a plateau approximately 9 miles (14.5 km) in length and 4 ¼ miles (7km) wide. At 3117 ft (950 m) Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England.
There is a rich biodiversity of wildlife in the area including a herd of Wild Red Deer. The valley is also home to the endangered Red Squirrel and Fell Ponies can be seen roaming the Helton Fells.
The ancient woodlands and fells provide breeding habitats for a variety of birds such as the great spotted woodpecker, tree-creeper, redstarts, spotted & pied flycatcher, willow warbler, meadow pipit, wheatear, lapwing, pied & yellow wagtails, yellowhammer, peregrine falcons, ravens and red grouse which can be seen on the high fells. Great rafts of gulls roost on the lake and the bays are frequented by mallards, red breasted mergansers, greylag geese, goosanders, kingfishers, cormorants, dippers, sandpipers and ospreys have been sighted on passage.
Trout and Perch inhabit the Lake and an endangered species known as the Schelly (Coregonus clupeoides stigmatiuos) believed to have been isolated by the last ice age. The Schelly is only found in two other localities, Haweswater and Red Tarn; that we know of.
Abundant Flora thrive along the lakeshore trails such as Bracket Fungus, Wood Cranesbill, Ladys Bedstraw, Pink Purslane, Bracken, Ferns, Wood Sorrell, Round Leaved Sundew and Butterwort.
Of all the flora the Lenten lilie has pride of place immortalised by Wordsworth in his world famous poem “The Daffodils”.
In early summer Bird Cherries in Scalehow Wood on the lakeshore become infested with the communal webs of the ermine moth caterpillar.
A 500 year old Yew Tree resides in the grounds of the thirteenth century church in St Martin just outside Howtown.
On the lower slopes of Silver Crag, the flowers of the mature Holly Trees attract Holly Blue Butterlies in the month of May.