Ullswater - Lowther - Haweswater drive

A drive around the eastern Lake District, including some remote and beautiful parts of Ullswater and Haweswater lakes. Also featured are the attractive Lowther and Lyvennet valleys, some picturesque villages and historic places.




Route Map




Summary of main attractions on route (click on name for detail)
Distance Attraction Car Park Coordinates
0 miles Pooley Bridge Village N 54.61172, W 2.82135
4.6 miles Martindale Hause N 54.56494, W 2.87413
12.3 miles Askham Village N 54.60642, W 2.75579
13.2 miles St Michael's Church N 54.61194, W 2.74608
14.1 miles Lowther Castle N 54.60844, W 2.73380
14.6 miles Bird Of Prey Centre N 54.60701, W 2.72756
19.7 miles Morland Village N 54.59583, W 2.62176
24.3 miles Maulds Meaburn Village N 54.53967, W 2.58074
29.5 miles Shap Village N 54.52902, W 2.67619
30.8 miles Keld Chapel N 54.52395, W 2.69115
32.3 miles Shap Abbey N 54.53148, W 2.70071
38.2 miles Haweswater Dam N 54.53231, W 2.76997
42.3 miles Mardale Head N 54.48924, W 2.82018
55.8 miles Pooley Bridge Village N 54.61172, W 2.82135



The Drive

Distance: 0 miles         Location: Pooley Bridge Village          Coordinates: N 54.61172, W 2.82135

Pooley Bridge village
Pooley Bridge is a busy tourist village located at the northern end of Ullswater lake. There are a few shops, pubs and cafes although there isnít much else to see in the village itself. The area is popular with campers and caravaners who come from the many nearby sites. There are some good walks in the area but the main attraction are the Ullswater Steamers which can be caught from the nearby pier. Regular boats travel up the magnificent lake calling at Howtown and Glenridding.

A short walk leads to the shores of Ullswater lake at the outflow of the River Eamont. There are lovely views up the lake and you can hire a boat at Lakeland Boat Hire. The footpath also continues along the lake shore. Pay and display car parks either side of the road bridge, public toilets in the village.


Travelling:

From the road bridge, travel through the village on the main road. At the end of the village is a mini-roundabout where you take the second exit towards Howtown and Martindale. In a short distance meet a T junction and turn right. This dead end Martindale road follows the shores of Ullswater with some wonderful scenery and is worth a detour. The road passes a number of camp sites which are very popular in season. Beyond these the road narrows and soon passes Sharrow Bay hotel and restaurant which provides luxurious refreshments overlooking Ullswater. The road then follows the lake shore although views of the lake are somewhat hidden by trees and there isnít much opportunity for stopping.

Eventually reach the hamlet of Howtown where Ullswater Steamers regularly pour walkers on to the adjacent pier. Again there isnít really anywhere to park. Pass Howtown Hotel on the left and soon cross a cattle grid to begin a tricky, short but sharp ascent with some impressive corners that needs some care, especially if something is coming the other way. The summit area is Martindale Hause and parking is on the right or next to the church on the left.


Distance: 4.6 miles         Location: Martindale Hause          Coordinates: N 54.56494, W 2.87413

Ullswater and Howtown from Martindale Hause
The car park at Martindale Hause gives access to some wonderful viewpoints and the adjacent St Peterís Church. Hallin Fell rises above the car park and the fairly strenuous half hour walk to the summit is worthwhile for the superb views over Ullswater and surrounding hills. Views up the remote and beautiful Martindale valley can be achieved by climbing only a short distance from the car park. There are also great views back towards Howtown and the northern end of Ullswater from the top of the steep road section. Free car park which can get busy. No facilities.

The new Martindale church of St Peterís was built around 1880 and has some impressive stained glass. The old church of St Martin is only 0.5 miles away and is also worth a visit. Follow the road beyond the Hause, taking the first left turn. St Martinís dates from the 16th century and is in a very picturesque setting overlooking Martindale valley. The attractive church is small and basic but has some lovely features including a yew tree in the churchyard estimated to be 1300 years old.


Travelling:

Retrace your steps back towards Pooley Bridge village. Stay on the road to bypass the village and meet the B5320 at a T junction where you turn right towards Penrith. In approx 0.6 miles take the fist right turn, a minor road towards Askham. The quiet narrow road climbs to give views towards Penrith and the Pennine hills in the distance. As the road descends towards Askham you can see the top of Lowther Castle ahead, above the trees. Eventually meet a T junction and turn right to enter the village of Askham. The village car park is a short distance on the left, adjacent to The Queens Head pub car park.

Distance: 12.3 miles         Location: Askham Village          Coordinates: N 54.60642, W 2.75579

Askham village green
The attractive village of Askham is situated in a relatively quiet corner of the Lake District, within the Lowther valley. The village is based around two separate village greens and has a number of attractions for visitors. At the village centre you will find Askham Stores village shop, The Queens Head pub and a pottery with gallery. A small village green is up the hill nearby but the main green and further attractions are down the hill.

The main green surrounds the road, overlooked by charming old houses. Further down the hill on the right is The Punchbowl Inn and opposite the pub is Askham Hall, an historic manor house which was until recently home to the Lowther family who previously lived at Lowther Castle. The Hall has been transformed in to a stylish hotel and has some lovely gardens which are open to the public (admission fee) and a cafe. Further down the hill again is St Peterís Church and beyond that is the River Lowther. Adjacent to the free village car park is an open air swimming pool which is open to the public over the summer months.


Travelling:

Turn left out of the village car park and beyond Askham Stores turn left again towards Lowther. The road descends through the attractive village and soon crosses the River Lowther, bearing left to follow the river. Cross a cattle grid to enter Lowther Park and up a small hill is St Michaelís Church on the left.

Distance: 13.2 miles         Location: St Michael's Church          Coordinates: N 54.61194, W 2.74608

St Michael's Church
St Michaelís Church has a wonderful location in Lowther Park, near Lowther Castle. The church and its big churchyard sit high above the River Lowther with lovely views across the valley and parkland. The main attraction inside the ancient church are various magnificent memorials to members of the Lowther family who are buried here. In the churchyard is an impressive mausoleum to William ĎEarl of Lonsdaleí which houses a statue of the man locked in eerie isolation. Free roadside parking but no facilities. Facilities at nearby Lowther Castle.

Travelling:

Continue across a cattle grid to enter attractive open parkland. Donít miss the impressive facade of Lowther Castle nearby on the right, with its tree-lined approaches. The road ascends a short distance to cross another cattle grid where you take the right turn towards Lowther. Soon meet a minor T junction where you continue straight ahead, passing the small village of Lowther Newtown on the left. This replaced the old Lowther village which was pulled down in the 17th century to improve the view from Lowther Hall, the site of the present Lowther Castle. Ahead, where the road bears left, the entrance to Lowther Castle is on the right.

Distance: 14.1 miles         Location: Lowther Castle          Coordinates: N 54.60844, W 2.73380

Lowther Castle
Part of the huge Lowther Estate, Lowther Castle and Gardens stand on a site occupied by the Lowther family for over 800 years. The castle is now a shell but the impressive facades remain and are testament to the magnificent home that was built in the early 19th century. The castle and gardens were left in ruins in the mid 20th century but a recent project has begun to maintain the castle and bring the gardens back to life.

You can wander within the castle ruin and around the numerous themed gardens which are work in progress but still interesting. There are fabulous views of the castle from the huge gently sloping lawn and also of the Lowther valley from the limestone escarpment walk. The stable courtyard has been sympathetically renovated to provide a cafe, gift shop and toilet facilities. Beyond this an entrance fee applies to the castle and gardens which are open daily all year.


Travelling:

Leaving the castle car park, turn right on the minor road towards Hackthorpe. The road soon enters woodland and a short distance on the right is Lakeland Bird Of Prey Centre.

Distance: 14.6 miles         Location: Lakeland Bird Of Prey Centre          Coordinates: N 54.60701, W 2.72756

Lakeland Bird Of Prey Centre
Next door to Lowther Castle, the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre has a large collection of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls from around the world. You can wonder around the different aviaries but the highlight is the flying demonstration where you have a chance to fly a bird yourself and there is an informative presentation. The Centre is in an attractive setting and includes tearoom, picnic area, gift shop and toilet facilities. Centre is open daily from April to November, entrance fee applies.

Travelling:

Leaving the car park, turn right on the minor road which soon bears left and passes the village of Lowther on the left. These small and neat groups of houses were built in the 18th century to house Lowther estate workers. Just beyond, meet a T junction and turn right. Continue a short distance to meet the main A6 road at another T junction where you turn right. Pass through the village of Hackthorpe and the Lowther Castle Inn on the right.

Beyond the village, cross the M6 motorway and almost immediately take the left turn towards Morland. The road descends under the main west coast railway and over the River Leith to enter the pleasant village of Great Strickland where you will find the popular Strickland Arms pub. Beyond the village, the narrow road continues through pleasant countryside and woodland with some views over the Eden valley towards the Pennine hills. Eventually descend to enter the village of Morland. At the T junction in the village, opposite St Lawrenceís Church, turn right and continue a short distance to another T junction where you turn left. The road descends towards the river and The Square where there is some roadside parking adjacent to Mill Yard cafe on the left. Further roadside parking along Water Street opposite.


Distance: 19.7 miles         Location: Morland Village          Coordinates: N 54.59583, W 2.62176

St Lawrence's Church, Morland
Morland village is a hidden gem, located in a peaceful valley and with a number of visitor attractions. The centrepiece of the picturesque village is the Saxon church of St Lawrence, with its fascinating tower which has stood since the 11th century and is apparently the oldest structure in Cumbria still in daily use. The church also has some interesting features inside. The pretty Morland Beck cascades through the village with an impressive fall under the road bridge. Overlooking the beck and bridge is the popular Mill Yard cafe and across the road is the The Crown Inn. Behind the cafe is Morland House which is a private holiday let but you can visit the attractive gardens by permission. The gardens include the beck downstream of the bridge and make an enjoyable stroll. Ask at the cafe for permission. Free roadside parking but no shop or public toilets.

Travelling:

Leave The Square on Water Street, adjacent to The Crown Inn. The road passes alongside the pretty Morland Beck and old mill race before leaving the village. Continue through pleasant countryside and woodland on the generally straight minor road, again with distant views across the Eden valley. After approx 4 miles, enter the village of Maulds Meaburn. Roadside parking through the village with a wider section at the far end of the village, opposite the modern Village Institute.

Distance: 24.3 miles         Location: Maulds Meaburn Village          Coordinates: N 54.53967, W 2.58074

Maulds Meaburn village
Maulds Meaburn is another peaceful picturesque village in the Lyvennet valley. The main feature is the huge village green which surrounds pretty Lyvennet Beck as it meanders through the centre of the linear village. There are footpaths across the open grassy areas and a few benches to sit and admire the surroundings. Various bridges over the beck allow access from one side to the other. The well dispersed houses are set further back, overlooking the grass and beck, which all helps to enhance the attractive open character of the village. Since 1st August 2016 the village is now just within the Yorkshire Dales National Park following significant boundary extensions. Free roadside parking but no shop or public toilets.

Travelling:

Continue on the minor road which ascends out of the village and shortly enters the village of Crosby Ravensworth. Another pretty village with a pleasant stream and the impressive St Lawrenceís Church on the right. Beyond the church, take the first right turn towards Shap and climb steeply away from the village. This area is steeped in history and the surrounding countryside contains countless prehistoric remains and monuments. Continue along the elevated road with views over the Eden valley towards the Pennines and then ahead towards the eastern Lake District mountains. Cross the M6 motorway and descend to enter Shap village. Cross the main west coast railway and pass St Michaelís Church on the left. Continue a short distance to a T junction with the main A6 road. Turn left and Shap village car park is a short distance on the left.

Distance: 29.5 miles         Location: Shap Village          Coordinates: N 54.52902, W 2.67619

Goggleby Stone, Shap
Shap is a not particularly attractive long linear village on the main A6 road. The village was more important and much busier before the M6 motorway was built and it does offer a few facilities for visitors including public toilets at the village car park. There is a small supermarket, post office, cafe, Shap chippy and a couple of pubs, The Bulls Head Inn and at the southern end of the village, The Greyhound Hotel. Behind the Fire Station, a 10 minute walk across fields takes you to the Goggleby Stone, one of the many prehistoric monuments in the area. Free parking in the village car park.

Travelling:

Turn right out of the car park on the A6 north. After approx 0.3 miles, just before the end of the village, take the left turn signposted to Bampton. Beyond the village the road is lined with limestone walls, a feature of this area. In a short distance take the first left turn signposted to Keld. Continue approx 0.7 miles along the narrow lane to enter the village of Keld. There is some roadside parking in the centre of the small village, or beyond the village next to the river.

Distance: 30.8 miles         Location: Keld Chapel          Coordinates: N 54.52395, W 2.69115

Keld Chapel
Keld Chapel is believed to date from the 16th century when it was associated with nearby Shap Abbey. The attractive but simple chapel has a long and interesting history, including its use as a private dwelling for over two centuries. Now a National Trust property, the key hangs outside the house opposite and it can be visited at any reasonable time. The historic village of Keld also had associations with Shap Abbey and retains a great deal of character. At the far end of the village there is an open grassy area next to the River Lowther. Free roadside parking in the village, no facilities.

Travelling:

Retrace your steps to the Bampton road and turn left. Ahead are some great views towards the Lakeland mountains. Shortly, take the first left turn signposted to Shap Abbey. The single track road continues a short distance to a cattle grid then descends steeply towards Shap Abbey. The car park is at the bottom of the hill on the right.

Distance: 32.3 miles         Location: Shap Abbey          Coordinates: N 54.53148, W 2.70071

Shap Abbey
The ruins of Shap Abbey are set is a picturesque secluded valley next to the River Lowther. It was the only Abbey within the Lake District boundary and is now in the care of English Heritage. The Abbey was founded around 1200 and was one of the last to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. Much of the stonework was later taken for local construction, including Lowther Castle, but you can still see the lower walls of the buildings and the impressive tower which remains largely complete. Various information boards around the site tell you more about the Abbey and monastic life. The site is not manned and is open at any reasonable time with free entry and parking. No facilities on site, nearest in Shap village.

Travelling:

Retrace your steps to the Bampton road and turn left. The road, narrow in places, is again lined with limestone walls, as are all the surrounding fields. Continue through pleasant countryside following the Lowther valley. Across the valley you can glimpse Haweswater Reservoir and its surrounding hills. Eventually the road descends and enters the village of Bampton Grange, a small pleasant village including The Crown & Mitre pub and St Patrickís Church. Beyond the church, cross the River Lowther and immediately take the first left turn towards Haweswater. Very shortly take the next right turn, a narrow road which soon crosses Haweswater Beck. Just beyond is a small parking area on the left where you can access the beck. Continue a short distance to a T junction and turn left towards Haweswater. After approx 1 mile the village of Burnbanks is on the right, built to house the workers who built Haweswater dam. Cross Haweswater Beck again and approx 0.6 miles beyond is a lay-by on the left overlooking Haweswater dam.

Distance: 38.2 miles         Location: Haweswater Dam          Coordinates: N 54.53231, W 2.76997

Haweswater Dam
Haweswater is a large man-made reservoir belonging to United Utilities that supplies drinking water to a quarter of the North West of England. The dam was built in the 1930ís, a controversial scheme at the time as the 4 mile long reservoir flooded the picturesque valley and the village of Mardale with local residents evicted from their homes. The massive concrete dam used 44 separate concrete buttresses to form the final structure which is around 36m high and 470m long. Apparently it is the second biggest dam structure in the country, behind Kielder.

Near the dam, you can see two streams entering the reservoir, one on each shore. These are aqueducts which collect water from a number of nearby catchments and from Ullswater lake, thereby massively increasing the effective catchment area and ensuring enough water is available. Free parking, no facilities.


Travelling:

The picturesque road along the eastern shore of the reservoir was built to access the head of the valley when the original road was flooded. It is worth driving the 4 mile dead end road to admire the remote valley and wonderful scenery. Approx 1.7 miles beyond the dam is the Hawewater Hotel which was built to replace the original Mardale pub and provides refreshments overlooking the reservoir. A short distance beyond the hotel there is a small tower in the reservoir. This is where most of the water is abstracted before travelling by gravity along an underground aqueduct to a treatment works near Kendal. As the road continues towards the head of the valley, the views of the reservoir and surrounding mountains become even more impressive. At the end of the tarmac road is Mardale Head car park.

Distance: 42.3 miles         Location: Mardale Head, Haweswater          Coordinates: N 54.48924, W 2.82018

Towards Mardale Head, Haweswater
Mardale Head car park and its approaches provide some fabulous views of Mardale valley and it is a popular starting point for some wonderful walks. Nearby, and normally under water, is the old village of Mardale Green which was demolished before the valley was flooded. During very dry periods the reservoir level drops enough to see the remains of the village which included a pub and church. One eerie aspect was the exhumation of bodies from the church graveyard, to be reburied nearby at Shap.

Haweswater is also a large RSPB bird reserve which until 2016 was the only place in England where you could see a wild Golden Eagle. Unfortunately it has disappeared but there are still a variety of bird species in the area including Buzzards and Peregrines. Free car park but it can fill early in season and at weekends. No facilities.


Travelling:

Retrace your steps all the way back down the valley, past the dam and Burnbanks. Ignore the turn to Bampton Grange, continue straight ahead and shortly enter the village of Bampton. At the T junction in the village is Bampton shop & tea room. Turn left at the T junction on the Lowther valley road towards Askham. There are lovely views across the Lowther valley as you travel along the road, passing the hamlet of Butterwick and on to the small village of Helton. The road bypasses the village, maintaining good views across the valley and you can see the limestone escarpment walkway bordering Lowther Castle. Beyond Helton, enter Askham village again. Continue straight through the village and just beyond take the left turn signposted to Celleron. The lofty lane provides some good views towards Penrith, over the River Eamont valley and eventually towards the Lake District mountains. Continue to a T junction and turn left on the B5320. Soon enter the village of Pooley Bridge, the car parks are at the far end of the village, either side of the road bridge.

Distance: 55.8 miles         Location: Pooley Bridge Village          Coordinates: N 54.61172, W 2.82135

Pooley Bridge lakeside
Return to start point.