Ullswater has managed to avoid over commercialisation, despite being the second largest lake in the Lake District. It is approximately eight to nine miles long, three quarters of a mile wide and roughly sixty metres deep. This lake is a narrow “ribbon lake”, which means it was formed after the last ice age. The lake is formed after a glacier scooped out the valley floor and the deepened part filled with the melted ice.
Ullswater has three separate segments, this is because the surrounding mountains give it the shape of an elongated “Z”. This stretches from Pooley Bridge in the north, past Howtown to the settlement of Martindale, through to the scenic waterfall of Aira Force and then down to Glenridding, which is at the foot of Helvellyn.
Ullswater is not only popular for motorboats, rowing, diving or as a sailing location, it still has four steamers operating on the lake. These steamers, which have a long and historical background to them, offer trips around the lake and stop at Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Howtown. Hikers often get one of these Ullswater steamers from Glenridding to Howtown and then return on foot back to Glenridding along the lakeshore. Glenridding is also a popular starting point to ascend Helvellyn.