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Shorter walks around Ullswater

The shorter days and earlier dusks may discourage all but the hardiest early risers from scaling exposed mountain summits, but there are still plenty of eye opening adventures to be had within a comfortable one to three-hour walking window. From easy peaks to impressive waterfalls, vast caverns to wildlife-rich rambles, we assemble five of our favourites.

A view ove Ullswater lake from Gowbarrow
Overlooking Aira Force

Gowbarrow Fell and Aira Force

A relatively short, not too strenuous walk, which takes in some of the best of the Lake District landscape – including one of Thomas West’s picturesque ‘viewing stations’ overlooking Ullswater and the scenic 70ft high Aira Force waterfalls. It’s close to the hotel, too – just a 15-minute drive. The views are well worth the moderate climb. You can walk around Aira Force in an hour and Gowbarrow in 2.5 hours.

Read the full route description

Outside the entrance to Millican Dalton's Cave
Win with Millican and Another Place

Black Moss Pot

Listed in the Lonely Planet’s ‘top 10 places to go skinny dipping’, this steep-sided pool with a waterfall at the upper end is a beautiful secluded spot, whether or not you feel compelled to bare all for an icy dip. The walk up here, which takes an hour or so from Stonethwaite Bridge, follows a river into a valley, as it starts carving into the rock, creating pools and waterfalls with high jumping in points for wild swimming (or creative photography for those preferring to stay warm and dry at this time of year). About a 30-minute drive from the hotel, it’s less than a mile away from Millican Dalton’s cave  which could be combined for a fuller day trip.

Read the full route description

Hayley Anderson walking on Hallin Fell overlooking Ullswater

Hallin Fell

The other side of the lake from the hotel (about a 30-minute drive), on the ‘dog leg’ of Ullswater, Hallin’s summit provides amazing views down both ends of the lake, as well as a grandstand view of Helvellyn and its distinctive arête ridges, Striding and Swirral Edge. At just 388m, Hallin Fell is one of the smallest hills in the national park, and can be climbed in 1–1.5 hours, yet offers some of the grandest views. Ideal for crisp, clear winter’s day.

Read the full route description

The Swindale Valley in winter

Swindale

“Head to Haweswater for a wildlife ramble through one of the Lake District’s most secluded, beautiful and tranquil valleys,” says RSPB guide Lee Scholfield. “From red squirrels to salmon, deer to dragonflies, the area is a haven for all sorts of wildlife.” If you’re lucky, you may also see red deer, otters, lizards, ospreys or peregrine falcons. “On mostly level terrain, the walk will take in bubbling streams, flower rich meadows, shady woodlands, dramatic waterfalls and crags.” Swindale is approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the hotel.

See our Swindale walking page

Cathedral Cavern

Cathedral Cavern

With its linking chambers, tunnels and even a goldfish pool, a torch is obligatory for exploring this huge cavern in a disused slate quarry in Little Langdale (about a 45-minute drive from the hotel, before a short walk up to the caves). From a 40ft pillar in the centre of the main cavern, to a 400ft tunnel leading you out onto the Tilberthwaite side of the fell, this one is definitely for the adventurous spirited – although it’s suitable for all ages (watching children closely and keeping dogs on leads, of course).

Read our Cathedral Cavern blog post

Hiking above Ullswater

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens of other great walks to enjoy within easy striking distance from the hotel. A great starting place for more ideas is the Ullswater hiking guide created for us by Athena Mellor, seasoned explorer and creator of Ramble Guides.

Wherever you’re headed, and even if the sun is shining and your planned route seems easy, be sure to pack for all eventualities: extra layers, good waterproofs, plenty of water and snacks, and an OS map if possible. Check the Lake District National Park Authority’s guides on what to bring, and the best sources for weather reports.

What’s in a bag?

Thinking about Lake District day hikes in autumn and winter, and what to take in your bag, we asked Jorrit Jorritsma, co-founder of sustainable outdoor bag company Millican to share his:

  • One ‘essential/ never leave home without it’? “All-weather clothing and footwear, since the Lakeland weather is highly unpredictable!”
  • One ‘adds a bit of weight but is well worth it’? “A physical guide book – there’s nothing better than reading about where you are, from a book rather than a screen.”
  • One luxury? “I tend to convince myself I need a lot more food than I really need on my walks, and dark chocolate has to be part of the stash.”
  • One snack that always perks you up when you’re low on energy? “Has to be the Cherry Bakewell energy bars from Outdoor Provisions …”
Millican rucksacks

The next chapter

Carrying the torch for Millican Dalton’s legacy, how does Jorrit feel about his company equipping people to venture out and find their own romance and freedom in the outdoors? What does it mean over 100 years on, in these challenging times? “Over the last five to ten years, there’s been a wider and growing societal movement of ‘getting outside’ more, without that having to be activity specific or extreme outdoors,” he says.

“Millican was not a performance climber. He was simply interested in teaching others a wide array of skills to make the most of being outside. So this sentiment and approach to life lives on to this day, while society in 2020 is adapting to a new normal, seeking adventures closer to home and realising there’s a lot of ‘outside’ to enjoy on our doorstep.”

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