Ullswater from the Howtown - Glenridding path

The Best Walk in The Lake District?

There is plenty of room to discuss which is the best walk in the Lake District, but I would nominate the walk from Howtown along the banks of Ullswater back to Glenridding. I don’t care whether other people agree or not – it is my favourite and one that Peter and I have done a number of times.

What's not to love about a walk that starts with a boat trip on the Ullswater steamer to the pier at Howtown and then follows a very good path back to the start. It is a relatively easy walk, but long enough and rugged enough to feel you have had a good amount of exercise.

The route is simple, just follow the signs on this well-worn, popular path. What I love so much about this walk is that there is plenty of flora and fauna to look out for. With plenty of trees, including some ancient woodland, it is a far cry from the lifeless fell tops. This was our second day in the Lakes this April and, after our walk up St Sunday’s Crag the day before, it was a relief to see so much wildlife.

We started off with our friends on the steamer and walked along the bank listening to a soundscape of wrens, chiffchaffs, chaffinches and great tits. Primroses filled the woodlands and there were a few bluebells just starting to flower. With a rather elderly dog and a date with a ferry in Oban our friends left us in Hallinhag Wood to loop back to Howtown and return by the steamer.

Pied flycatcher

Almost immediately, we decided that the picnic table at Sandwick Bay was the perfect place to have a brew up. As the kettle boiled I was perusing the trees with my binoculars a suddenly gave a shriek “pied flycatcher.” I have only ever seen this bird once before, in Wales, in a place where I knew they were present and it took ages to see it. Coming across one in a place I wasn’t expecting to see it was an absolute joy. But there wasn’t one, there was a pair and eventually we spotted where they had a nest hole and watched them flying in and out. We must have watched them over our cuppa for well over half an hour.

Rucksacks on our backs we set off along the path and through a gate where a sheep gave birth to a lamb just in front of us. Watching the way the ewe licked the newborn so tenderly until it got to its feet was a real privilege.

The rest of the walk wasn’t quite so exciting, but there was still plenty of things to see: dipper, goosanders and ancient junipers to name a few - and of course views across Ullswater. Once again this lovely walk came up trumps.

Mist Over Ullswater

The next day we decided to head home after breakfast because it was raining. Before we had travelled far, the weather cleared and we just had to stop to take photos of the mist Ullswater. Quite beautiful.

Morning mist over Ullswater. Photo credit: Peter Lyth
Pied flycatcher
The male pied flycatcher singing. Photo credit: Peter Lyth
Ullswater Steamer
Our friends returning to Glenridding on the steamer

Distance: 11 km

Terrain: Good, undulating

Difficulty: Medium

Date Walked: 27th April





  • Pied Flycatcher
  • Goosander
  • Canada Geese
  • Dipper
  • Wren
  • Primroses