Ullswater is the second biggest lake in the English Lake District, measuring approximately 9 miles (14.5 kilometres) long and 0.75 miles (1,200 metres) wide with a maximum depth of sightly over 60 metres (197 ft).

Many regard Ullswater as the most beautiful of all the English lakes and it has been frequently compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. It is a typical Lake District narrow ribbon lake formed at the end of the last ice age when a glacier scooped out the valley floor, the deepened section filled with meltwater when the glacier retreated and thus became a lake. The surrounding mountains give Ullswater the shape of an elongated z, giving it three separate segments that weave their way through the surrounding hills.

The origin of the name Ullswater is unknown. Some say it derives from the name of a Nordic chief ‘Ulf’ who ruled over the area; and others say there was a Saxon Lord of Greystoke called ‘Ulphu’s whose land bordered the lake. The lake may well have been named Ulf’s Water in honour of either of these or it could well have been named after the Norse god Ullr, also known as Ull.

Glenridding village, situated at the southern end of the lake, is popular with tourists of all kinds but especially mountain walkers who are able to scale England’s third highest mountain, Helvellyn, and many other challenging peaks from there. The village has plenty of accommodation including two Youth Hostels and camp sites.

The village of Pooley Bridge is at the northern tip of the lake. Its narrow 16th-century bridge straddles the River Eamont as it meanders out of Ullswater and it is overlooked by Dunmallard Hill which was the site of an Iron Age fort. For much of its length Ullswater forms the natural border between the ancient counties of Cumberland and Westmorland.

Ullswater’s many attractions include the Ullswater Steamers which offer trips around the lake calling at Pooley Bridge, Glenridding and Howtown. The steamers’ operate all year round and were originally working boats from the 1850s which moved mail, workers and goods to and from Greenside lead mine at Glenridding which closed in 1962.

Today there are four ‘Steamers’ to be found on the waters of Ullswater, “Raven”, “Lady of the Lake”, “Lady Dorothy” and since April 2007, Lady Wakefield. Although known by many as the Ullswater “Steamers”, all the boats are now operate on diesel, with the two older boats, Lady of the Lake and Raven having been converted in the 1930s. People often catch the ‘Steamer’ from Glenridding to Howtown and then return on foot back along the lakeshore to complete one of the most popular and picturesque low level walks in the Lake District.

Ullswater is a very popular sailing location with marinas situated around the lake. At weekends in particular the lake is dotted with many yachts but there are facilities also for diving, rowing and motorboats. Another of Ullswater’s attractions are the spectacular falls of Aira Force midway along the lake on the western side. Close to the falls is Lyulph’s Tower, a pele tower or castellated building, constructed by a former Duke of Norfolk as a shooting box.

Sir Donald Campbell set the water speed world record on Ullswater on July 23, 1955, when he piloted the jet-propelled hydroplane “Bluebird K7″ to a speed of 202.32 mph (325.53 km/h).
South of Pooley Bridge on the lake’s eastern shore is Eusemere, where anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) resided; the house provides one of the most popular views of the lower reach of Ullswater.

William and Dorothy Wordsworth were good friends of Clarkson and visited on many occasions. After a visit to Clarkson in April 1802 Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem “Daffodils” after seeing daffodils growing on the shores of Ullswater on his journey back to Grasmere. Wordsworth wrote of Ullswater: “it is the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the lakes affords”.

Ullswater is home of Ullswater Yacht Club, and the prestigious Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy is held annually on the first weekend in July. This frequently attracts upwards of 200 sailing boats and comprises 2 races, both of which cover the full length of the lake.

Reference: Wikipedia – under the GNU Free Doc Licence