Lake cruises on England’s most beautiful lake

with Ullswater 'Steamers'



Ullswater ‘Steamers' are a cruise company that nurtures the beautiful landscape in which it carries out its tourism business, having been one of the first, if not the first, Lake District tourism operator to establish a visitor payback scheme. Every passenger fare carried between our piers of Howtown and Glenridding generates a 10 pence donation for conservation work in the area, this being donated to different conservation charities at times, to reflect the needs of nature in the area, but most regularly donated to Nurture Lakeland, for its various conservation projects. To date we have raised over £40,000 towards such projects. Our main projects include visitor donation for Walkers tickets and online Visit Give donations to Penrith Red Squirrels.

Environmental issues such as our consumption of fossil fuels and air emissions are central to the activities of Ullswater ‘Steamers’ and the implementation of our Environmental Management Survey (EMS) procedure has assisted us in our aim to manage our activities with a view to reducing our impact on the environment. 85% of our waste is now recycled with a aim to increase this to 90% in 2015/16. We also want to highlight some of the key issues especially the damage that phosphates can cause to water courses hence we are a supporter of the Nurture Lakeland Project - Love your Lakes.

Originally, the main purpose of the ‘Steamers’ was not only to carry passengers but also Royal Mail, provisions, slate and lead from the Greenside mine. During WW2 the ‘Steamers’ even ferried soldiers down to Glenridding for their training at the Ullswater Hotel. Today we operate a tourist attraction that provides a sustainable transport service linking some of the most iconic walking routes in the Lake District with a total of five heritage vessels in operation; Lady of the Lake originally launched in 1877, Raven in 1889, Lady Dorothy in 2001, Lady Wakefield in 2007 and Western Belle (built in 1935) joined us in 2010. The five boats in the fleet that traverse the 7.5 mile (12km) long lake now also transport keen nature lovers, those new to nature and others who might not have a clue which way to hold their binoculars, to a variety of wonderful wildlife experiences staged on the shores of England's most beautiful lake, the fells above it and around pathways and walks that link the world of nature to Ullswater ‘Steamers' piers.

Our employees are passionate about the natural environment and take pride in telling others about it, working in conjunction with local wildlife charities and Trusts but the company's views on wildlife go much deeper than this, with conservation being an integral part of business planning, to the extent that we will schedule work so as to not upset the yearly salmon spawning and recently refitted our pier houses with sustainable fixtures, energy saving features and even local Herdwick carpets. There are cycle racks and electric bike charge points at both main piers and electric car charge point at Glenridding. Eight key staff members hold a SMART driving tuition course. Save money when you travel by public transport, with combined train, bus & boat tickets here.

The biodiversity of the Ullswater Valley is a key element in our success and we recognise our duty to be responsible for the environmental impacts our business has not only on our waste disposal but also our sustainability towards tourism impacts on our environment. We promote walks, cycling and nature events and launched the Explore Ullswater Destination project for sustainable travel into the valley by rail/bus. In conjunction with First TransPennine Express rail services and Stagecoach buses. Ullswater ‘Steamers’ is delighted to offer an exclusive combined train/bus/boat ticket, saving you £s compared to separate fares. Read More

We currently hold the Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold accreditation and Gold Green at Heart for best environmental practice. Awards to date include Cumbria Tourism Sustainable Tourism winners going forward to the national finals for Highly Commended in the  2012 Enjoy England awards. In 2008 & 2011 we were highly commended in the international Virgin Holiday Responsible Tourism Awards. In 2015 we won the World Tourism Responsible Tourism Award in the sea and river cruise catergory.These major accolades reflect the company's commitment to sustainable practices, which are at the heart of our tourism strategy. View our environmental policy and procurement policies here.

World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015, with, Best Sea or River Cruise GoldResponsible TourismGreen at Heart Gold 2016 2017Cumbria Tourism Awards 2016 Sustainable Tourism Award Finalist

Our  latest savings and promises in 2016:

  • Continue to operate the staff mini bus scheme, carbon footprint reduction from 27180  kgs CO2 to 1445 kgs CO2 p.a - based on an average of six members of staff per day
  • Expansion of the Explore Ullswater sustainable transport programme into and around the valley with the launch of the Ullswater Way in April 2016 and joint tickets with train and bus connections 
  • Raising of the Howtown Pier to improve access in the winter months
  • Extension of the Aira Force service to link the walk between Glenridding and Aira Force and integrate into main service going forward 
  • Our office and consumables emmisions are carbon neutral. We will continue to plant 12 trees in the North West and offset 12 tonnes p.a
  • Our recycled per passenger waste  target is 90% for 2016 with elimination of soap containers 
  • We have continued to monitor and reduce our water consumption by 120m³ in a 12 month period
  • We will retain Gold Award with GTBS and Green at Heart Gold and continue to work towards awards in sustainability
  • We will engage with public conferences to relay our sustainable best practices to others