Ullswater Way to Watermillock

Snatching a rain-free day, we continued with our second circuit of the Ullswater Way. Now you can – if you are fit enough – walk the Ullswater Way in a day, or a weekend. But with arthritic feet I’m very happy to do it in smaller portions, even if it means walking back on ourselves.

A Winter View (c) John Bainbridge 2020

On New Year’s Day – see blogs passim – we walked the high and low levels of the Way on the eastern side of Pooley Bridge. This time we were on the other side of the lake, a gentler walk of footpaths and lanes to Watermillock.

Another glorious day, with snow on the the hills to the south of us, and across the lake on Arthur’s Pike and Bonscale Tower. Despite a hard frost, it was still a trifle claggy with mud. But then it’s a footpath walk in January, so I expect no less.

January on the Ullswater Way (c) John Bainbridge 2020

On this second tour of the Ullswater Way, we have been using Mark Richards’ excellent guidebook, though the Way is very well waymarked.

We didn’t actually start at Pooley Bridge, but at the free car park on the A592, which is serving visitors to Pooley Bridge while the new bridge is being built over the River Eamont. A short walk up a field brought us to the Georgian mansion of Waterfoot Park, now the headquarters of a vast caravan site. It’s lovely to see the way local businesses are supporting the Ullswater Way. Waterfoot invites walkers in for hot drinks in their lobby.

Waterfoot (c) John Bainbridge 2020

A long but gentle ascent brought us to the few shallow ditches and low banks of Maiden Castle – not to be confused with its Dorset counterpart – an Iron Age (BC 700-500) palisaded farm. There’s not a lot to see, but the views over the surrounding fells are sensational.

Maiden Castle (c) John Bainbridge 2020

Across more intake fields then to the very picturesque hamlets of Wreay and Bennethead. Soon after, the Ullswater Way gives you alternatives – there’s a muddy path across fields to Watermillock, or a drier lane route. As we were returning back to Pooley Bridge, we decided to take the muddy path first, returning by way of the lane.

Although there has been a church at Watermillock since at least 1281, the original building was demolished and what you see now – higher up the hill – dates to 1881. It is a fine viewpoint, has some fine stained class in the Pre-Raphaelite style, and a memorial to Sir Cecil Spring Rice, who wrote the words to I Vow to Thee my Country.

Priest’s Crag Watermillock (c) John Bainbridge 2020

This time, being so muddy, we didn’t go in, but enjoyed our tea on a churchyard bench, admiring the view over Ullswater. There is something very restful about sitting in graveyards, reading the tombstones and seeing the names of the dead – each one telling a little of the story of this picturesque parish.

Watermillock Church (c) John Bainbridge 2020

We returned along the lane to Bennethead, then back to Pooley Bridge the way we had come. The day was warmer now, the snow on the distant tops melting away in the January sunlight.


Published by John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.

13 thoughts on “Ullswater Way to Watermillock

      1. Indeed, I don’t mind walking in the rain usually, but I’m fed up with the majority of days being wet. Fortunately, being self-employed, we can pick our days.


  1. Mud! that’s the thing which really puts me off lowland walking – I tend to stick to the small lanes in winter. I don’t think I’m all that bothered about getting my footwear filthy as it usually is. I think it’s more the sliding around and the thought that I’m damaging the ground when walking on mud which really puts me off…

    Liked by 1 person

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