We look at the activities children can enjoy around Ullswater – waterfalls, steamers and stately homes
The second biggest lake in the Lake District, Ullswater benefits from the dramatic peaks of Helvellyn soaring above its eastern edge.
Here there aren’t the huge crowds which descend on Windermere, which means quiet coves can be found on both east and west sides.
There are plenty of stony shorelines and woods to play in. You can hire boats to enjoy the water or just picnic and take in the view.
This is your best rainy day option near Ullswater. You can choose from pottery painting, soft play and an outdoor playground.
There is also a cinema, arts shows and restaurants. Watch out for temporary exhibitions, there was a brilliant Lego one when we visited. For more information visit the Rheged website.
This spectacular waterfall is a must-see. The walk up has some steep drops so keep an eye – and a hand – on small children.
You can walk up from the National Trust car park, through the woods, to the waterfall and down the other side in around an hour.
At the end there’s a babbling river to explore and nice park to play in. For more info visit National Trust Aira Force.
The streams and woodland of Aira Force
The nature trail at this small stately home is brilliant for little ones. The trail winds through gorgeous gardens, with farm animals to see.
At the end there is a play area, cafe with a pizza oven and delicious cakes. A perfect place to spend a few hours. For more information visit the Askham Hall website.
These traditional boats are the best way around the area.
They sail between Glenridding in the south and Pooley Bridge in the north with a stop at Howtown in the middle of the lake.
We got off at Howtown to take a walk up Hallin Fell which was a memorable picnic spot.
Tickets and information on the Ullswater Steamers website.
The steamers are the best way to travel around Ullswater
Have we missed out any of your family’s favourite activities around Ullswater, do let us know in the comments below.
We review The Quiet Site at Ullswater in Cumbria.
I have a real soft spot for the Lake District. We lived here for two blissful years and it was on the shores of one of its more remote and beautiful lakes where my husband proposed.
It is the quieter spots which fill me most with joy. Like Ullswater, which despite being the area’s second biggest lake, attracts nowhere near the hordes which flock to its largest, Windermere.
As well as being more peaceful, it’s arguably more breathtaking – framed by peaks which include Helvellyn.
And at only 10 minutes from the M6, it couldn’t be easier to reach.
The Quiet Site
Our accommodation in this part of Cumbria reflects our tranquil surroundings – The Quiet Site is a campsite half way up the western side of Ullswater.
Various levels of luxury are catered for from bring-your-own tent to a luxury cottage.
Their latest option are intriguing hobbit holes – underground spaces four times bigger than their insulated wooden camping pods – built into the side of a hill.
A hobbit hole
Camping pods at The Quiet Site
But we are firmly above ground – our home for three nights is a spacious three-bedroom cottage.
This former smithy is full of character, with high ceilings, exposed beams and equipped with everything we could need. Plus extras like a playhouse, toys, books and shelves groaning with children’s DVDs.
And I don’t know who was happiest about the giant trampoline in the garden – but it started the holiday on a high for us all.
Enjoying the trampoline in the garden of our cottage
The site also has a playground and an indoor soft play area, conveniently adjoined to the bar in a cosy barn.
I can see why The Quiet Site was recently the top-rated holiday and glamping park on Tripadviser out of 190 listed in the Lake District.
We crammed lots into this summer break – around the lake and on it.
Ullswater Steamers, which sail between Glenridding in the south and Pooley Bridge in the north, are the popular mode of transport in these parts.
We caught one to Howtown, in the middle, where we climbed part of Hallin Fell and enjoyed a memorable picnic with the lake glistening in the sunshine below.
Ullswater Steamers are a familiar site on the lake
You don’t need to be an expert map reader to find a rewarding spot by the lake but tackling the directions on the nature trail at Askham Hall Gardens, east of Pooley Bridge, tested and thrilled our son and daughter.
The trail winds through gorgeous gardens, with farm animals at the end. Completion brings you to a play area, plus a cafe with a pizza oven and delicious cakes. All the ingredients for a perfect few hours for us.
Other family-friendly trips include the wonderful waterfall Aira Force.
I kept a firm hold of our children by some steep drops on the woodland walk up but they were both suitably impressed by the spectacular sights and sounds.
We were lucky with the weather but if you need undercover fun, head to Rheged. Sadly, the fabulous Lego exhibition we enjoyed was only temporary but there is plenty of permanent entertainment here for little ones. Choose from pottery painting, soft play and an outdoor playground.
Throughout our stay at Ullswater, we found plenty of quiet coves with flat water ready to be disturbed by children’s stones. They were also the perfect settings for picnics, making up adventures and taking in the glorious views.
William Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem Daffodils after seeing the flowers growing on the shores of Ullswater.
“It is the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the lakes affords,” he said.
And I may just agree.
For a more detailed review on The Quiet Site, see here.
*For more ideas, see Cumbria’s official tourist board website.
Accommodation: We stayed as guests of The Quiet Site, Ullswater, for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.
A family-friendly campsite in the Lakes with all types of accommodation from tents to cottages and even hobbit holes
The Quiet Site is about a mile or so above Ullswater on a small road.
This large campsite has views across the fields, with some glimpses of the lake from certain points.
It is laid out around converted farm houses with plenty of land for playing on.
You can choose almost any sort of accommodation here. From pitching your own tent right through to large holiday cottages.
There’s also glamping options with hobbit holes (wooden buildings dug into the side of a fell), pods and bell tents. There are static holiday homes to buy as well.
A hobbit hole
We stayed in one of the two 16th century cottages, which was huge.
It had a large lounge, three good sized bedrooms and a well-equipped kitchen. There was also a decent sized garden shared with the adjoining cottage.
This cottage is one of the options
There is a pub on site, the Quiet Bar, which is deliberately rustic having changed little since 1963.
It is cosy and homely with a log fire and pool table.
Elsewhere the site has cooking facilities, a small shop for food and drinks and there’s often a wagon selling sausage and mash in the evening.
The nearest restaurants are about a mile away.
Little ones are well catered for, our holiday cottage had a brilliant trampoline, which we all tried out!
There was also a playhouse in the garden and plenty of DVDs and games in the house.
The main site has a large playground with swings, climbing equipment, a play fort and space to run around.
Adjoining The Quiet Bar is a soft play area, which is a useful rainy day distraction.
There are plenty of options from an eight-mile trek to Aira Force and back, through to a couple of miles around Little Mell Fell, which sits right above the site.
There are maps and guides on the website and the owners can help you when you arrive to point you in the right direction.
We went far enough with our two children to take in the wonderful scenery and feel like we were in the great outdoors.
There are walks from the site with views of Ullswater
A family-friendly, award-winning option with accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
For a review of the full holiday, see here.
Visit the Quiet Site website for more information and rates.
(We stayed as guests of the site for the purpose of this review. All views are our own).