of Ullswater 'Steamers'
The first reported Steamer on Ullswater dates back to 1859. The valley has inspired many famous artists and poets through the centuries including William Wordsworth and Turner, visit historic landmarks during your visit and listen to the ancient tales of myth and legend. We have pulled together a mini timeline but if you want to find out more, our Ullswater Times and commentary app expands on our story.
Famous Faces and Places - Donald Campbell, William Wordsworth, A.W Wainwright
Glenridding was once one of the most important mining villages in Britain until its closure on the 31st of January 1962. Galena was the chief ore mined at Greenside Lead Mine, it had an exceptionally high silver content around 15-30 ounces per ton of ore. The chalice in the St Patricks Church, Patterdale is made from Glenridding silver.
Lord Wakefield (owner of the Ullswater Company) was also a Director of an engineering Company at Preston who built Bluebird for Donald Campbell as well as providing him with a temporary boat-house and launching facilities at Glenridding. The original slipway can still be viewed adjacent to Glenridding Pier House.
Donald Campbell broke the world speed record on Ullswater on the 23rd July 1955 in the Jet powered Bluebird K7. The measured mile on a trial run was 215.08 mph and 189.57 mph on the return setting the new world record at an average speed of 202.32 mph.
Ullswater is known as the "Dark Lake" with links to Arthurian legend. Legend tells that a burial mound near our slipway at Waterside, used to be the home of Sir Tristan –one of the knights of the round table. But this is now thought to be of glacial origin.
In medieval times, monsters were believed to live in the dark waters which have a maximum depth of approximately 205 feet (62m).
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) first visited Ullswater at the age of 18 in 1788. One of his most famous poems "The Daffodils" was inspired after a walk with his sister Dorothy beyond Gowbarrow Park on their way back to Grasmere on 15th April 1802. To this day these wild daffodils (Lenten lilies) can be found in abundance on the lake shore in the Spring : "A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze "
The area has also been popularised by the writings of A.W Wainwright (1907–1991) who took his first Lakeland holiday in 1930 ; one of his favourite walks was the lakeshore walk. Other famous authors such as Samuel Coleridge (Rime of the Ancient Mariner) and Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe) are also associated with the Ullswater Valley.
Aira Force waterfall is located between Pooley Bridge and Glenridding. At 70ft the Aira waterfall cascades over a dramatic gully and if you are lucky the sun"s light forms a prismatic effect to create the famous Aira Rainbow.
Aira Force has a tragic legend attached to it between a knight Sir Eglamore and his beloved Emma. Emma perished one night after she slipped into the falls as she waited for him to return from war overseas. He never got over her death and it is said that he spent the rest of his days as a hermit next to the Falls.
The name "Ullswater" may derive from its original name "Ulfr"s Water" after a Viking Lord and has been known as "Ulpha"s Lake" and "Ulleswater" previously. Alternatively "Ulf " is the Scandinavian word for wool, it is said that the Danes used the lake to clean their fleeces and that its origin may derive from this or could it be the Norse God Ullr, you decide? During WW2, Ullswater was used to test mini-subs, naval craft and flying boats. It is rumoured that Ullswater or Haweswater was a test area for the targeting system for the bouncing bomb created by Barnes Wallis in 1942.
In July 1983 a speed limit restriction came into force of 10mph. The "10mph campaign" attracted film giants such as Lord Olivier, Sir Alec Guinness and the novelist J.B Priestley to Ullswater in support.
Gowbarrow and Glencoyne Park was once a Red Deer Hunting Park. Gowbarrow at one time was owned by William Rufus, successor of William the Conqueror. Llulph"s Tower a former Pele Tower was used as the hunting lodge on the estate. The Tower can be viewed aboard the "Steamers". Did you know Martindale was the last place to see fairies. Tales say if you throw money down Kailpot Crag it will bring you luck.
Legendary huntsman Joe Bowman was hunting in Martindale with the Ullswater Hounds. He decided to return from Howtown to Patterdale by 'Steamer', on discovering that he would have to pay for each hound, he sent his hounds ashore and remained onboard. As the boat was underway, Joe blew his horn and the hounds trotted along the lakeshore path, to be reunited, at their kennels at the southern end of the lake.
St Peters Church set within the parish of Martindale has a memorial window to the officers and men lost when aircraft carrier HMS Glorious was destroyed in controversial circumstances off the coast of Norway in 1940.