Pooley Bridge, Lake District Sunday 27th April 2014

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Rowland Nock   Distance: 12.5 miles, 20 km

Height gain for the day 400 metres.

We initially head off along the beautiful banks of Ullswater to Waterside House. We then meander along the slightly higher footpaths to the pier near Howtown. From here we ascend Hallin Fell to have lunch and enjoy the spectacular views of Ullswater and surrounding fells.

We descend past the beautifully small remote church to circle around Howtown and then take the gradually rising path north east to the stone circle known as ‘the cockpit’. From here we descend tracks and lanes back to Pooley Bridge for our usual tea and tiffin.

Moderate Leader: David & Cynthia Prescott   Distance: 7 Miles

Height gain approx.. 740 ft (225m).

This walk has superb views in every direction (north, south, east, west). It takes us up, up, up (but not too steeply) from Pooley Bridge church to the old High Street Roman Road where Roman soldiers once marched, and to a prehistoric stone circle called the Cockpit. This is thought to be of Bronze Age origin (c2000BC), predating the roman road. In more recent times it was most probably used for cockfighting, which was once common in the Lake District, but outlawed in 1849. Here there are wonderful extensive southerly views over Ullswater, and we then turn to head north east towards the outskirts of Askham and spy Lowther castle in the distance. On our recce there was snow on the hills and lots of wild ponies on the moor. We then go to Winder Hall Farm. In order to reduce the road walking we head down towards the river as we near Pooley Bridge. Most of the walk is on fairly good stony paths and tracks, but there is some field walking. There are no stiles in the first half of the walk, but about 6 stiles heading back over the fields, the first being a wall stile with high stone steps.

Leisurely Leader: Sue Daniels   Distance: 6 miles

Having taken over leading this walk from the last coach, I have not had time to do a recce, but the paths do look quite straightforward.

The walk links the triangle of paths from Pooley Bridge, the House of Dalemain and the village of Dacre. From Pooley Bridge we follow the river for a short while and gradually walk to Flusco Hill where there will be good views of Ullswater. We then follow the path over to Dalemain House with its celebrated gardens and historic parkland. From here we follow a fairly straight path over to the village of Dacre which has a castle and a pub! From the village we take to the road before reaching a footpath leading to Dunmallard Hill and over Pooley Bridge back to the beginning.

Easy Leader: Allan & Nicole Fraser   Distance: 5 miles

We head eastwards from the village, embarking on a longish (but gentle) climb. As a reward, there are spectacular views over Ullswater and the western Lake District hills. Then we turn left on to a level path towards Winder Hall Farm. From there, there is a simple descent back to Pooley Bridge, including some easy stiles. Only one stile is quite high.

Notes On The Area

Pooley Bridge is situated by the River Eamont at the northern end of Ullswater. It is a busy village catering mainly to the tourist trade. The name Pooley derives from a large pool in the River Eamont just before it flows out of Ullswater. Then, in the 16th century, a bridge was built across the river, hence Pooley Bridge. The pool has now disappeared, but the bridge can still be seen!

Pooley Bridge used to be a small fishing and farming community. The area still has a supply of trout, salmon and a freshwater herring called the schelly. Boats can be found moored here and the Ullswater Steamers also depart from here offering trips along the 7 mile lake to Howtown, and Glenridding at the southern end of the lake.

Within the village there are two main streets with delightful old stone houses. From the bridge there are some excellent views to be seen, with the lake in front and the wooded fells on its shores rising up to the higher mountains.

The church of St Paul can be found in the centre of the village and dates from around 1868. Opposite the church is a row of very old houses, one of which was a blacksmiths. Just over the river is Dunmallard Hill on which is an Iron Age ‘fort’.

Pooley Bridge was once a busy market town before nearby Penrith took precedence in the 19th century, with fish being the mainstay of the market’s products.

Not far from Pooley Bridge is Maiden Castle, a circular hill fort on the side of a hill, with two ramparts and a very narrow ditch between. This would probably have been home to a family group in the first millennium BC.

Ullswater is second only to Windermere in length but far surpasses it for peace and solitude. Although a navigable highway, there are few motor-driven vessels on the lake, the speed boats and water skiers having been driven away by the 10 mph speed restriction imposed in 1983. There are two launches which sail the lake from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge, both run by the grandly named Ullswater Navigation and Transit Company Ltd. ‘Lady of the Lake’ was first launched in 1877 and her sister ship ‘Raven’ in 1889. Originally steam driven, today they are powered by diesel. At the northern end of the lake there is an underground pumping station which draws water off to feed the reservoir at Haweswater.