Ullswater Heritage Knowledge Bank

Exploring the Knowledge Bank

Browse the contents below or use the search facility to look up a particular topic, place or person.


Follow Ullswater’s history from the first farmers and their stone circles to the iron-using Celtic people and peaceful Norse settlers who gave us many of the place names we use today. Find out how the Norman Conquest transformed the churches and parishes of the valley and how Border Troubles led to construction of fortified farmsteads known as pele towers. Follow the rise of Yeoman Farmers and the traditional Cumbrian farmhouse. See how the industrial mines and mills shaped the landscape and the economy. Imagine the early tourists, how they viewed the landscape and what form of transport they used. Discover how the Lake District has come to be a sort of National Property, protected for all to enjoy.

Fully loaded charabanc descending Kirkstone Pass. With thanks to James Sowerby

Follow the changing fortunes and methods of those involved in farming, fishing, or mining and quarrying. See how local services, including transport, have changed, and new services, such as Patterdale Mountain Rescue and Helvellyn Fell Top Assessors have evolved. Find out about sports and pastimes past and present, including cricket, yachting, tennis and more. Visit the King George V Field in Patterdale, one of the most scenic locations for cricket and host to the annual Patterdale Dog Day, with its sheepdog trials and hound and terrier shows. Discover the traditional buildings of the valley and learn how to build a dry-stone-wall.

You may like to focus on a particular part of the Ullswater Valley: Pooley Bridge and Barton, Patterdale and Glenridding, Matterdale and Watermillock, Aira and Glencoyne, Dacre and Stainton (including Dalemain), or Lowther and Askham


You can also explore 4 of these areas by taking an Aerial Tour which highlights points of interest along the way. There are currently Aerial Tours for Pooley Bridge, Glenridding, Aira Force and Howtown (Hallin Fell) 

1963 Big Freeze, serving soup on the ice near Beauthorn school, Courtesy of Gay Parkin and Miles MacInnes

This is the place where memories are stored. Miles Macinnes remembers the Big Freeze of 1962/3. Maybe you have childhood memories of life in the valley, like Ellen Sinclair, whose parents ran Patterdale PO form 1937-44. Maybe you are wondering, like John Spivey, why a particular species is more or less common than it used to be. Perhaps, like Myles Martindale Fox Oliver, you were called after a place in the Ullswater valley.


If you have a memory or a story to share please get in touch on info@ullswaterheritage.org or use the form on the Memories page.


 © Janet Wedgwood

Ullswater, the lake, is at the heart of the valley. Find out how it was formed and about its ecology. Imagine Pooley Bridge in its fisheries heyday in the 1800s and find out how the lake was saved from almost becoming a reservoir.

Discover the impact of Storm Desmond in the valley and actions being taken by Ullswater Catchment Management CIC to mitigate future flood damage. Learn about river restoration projects by the National Trust, and Eden Rivers Trust.

Get a feel for the valley's geological history - a story of volcanos, colliding continents, tropical seas, and ice.

© Pete Barron

Discover the range of upland habitats that are found in the Ullswater Valley or focus on particular habitats such as upland peat bogs, hay meadows, hedges or Aira's forgotten rainforests.


Find out the flowering plants or fungi you are likely to see, or the birds you are likely to encounter.


Read the extraordinary story of the Swan Man.

© Richard Lloyd

From protecting red squirrels  and dark skies to regenerative farming, water course restoration and reinstating hay meadows, the Ullswater Valley is home to a range of innovative approaches to protect the landscape and conserve its biodiversity.

Discover how Friends of the Lake District has sought to protect the unique character of Ullswater for more than 80 years. Find out how the John Muir Trust manages Glenridding Common. Learn how Ullswater Catchment Management works with farmers and local communities to improve natural flood management and nature recovery.

Inspired by Ullswater - being developed

JMW Turner, Ullswater, Cumberland c.1835 © Wordsworth Grasmere, with thanks

This section of the website celebrates all those, past and present, whose creativity has been inspired by the landscapes and people of the Ullswater Valley – artists, writers and so many more.

The Ullswater Virtual Art Gallery celebrates 47 artists past and present who have been inspired by the majesty and beauty of the Ulswater Valley.


From the past we also celebrate William and Dorothy Wordsworth, as well as the poet Kathleen Raine who lived in Martindale during the second world war.


From today we celebrate the artists who created the installations for the Ullswater Way heritage Trail – Pip Hall, Jimmy Reynolds, Charlotte Ruse and Harriet and Rob Fraser. Also local artists Gina Farncombe, Patricia Cook, Haydn Morris and Jane Firth.


We also celebrate Colin Aldred who created the Aerial Tours of Ullswater for our website as well as Mark Richards and Dave Felton who produce the Countrystride Podcasts and books linked to them, including  the Ullswater Walking Companion.

Help build the Heritage Knowledge Bank

The Ullswater Heritage Knowledge Bank is a project of Friends of the Ullswater Way. Since  September 2020 this community-led project has been collecting stories, memories, photographs and articles which we hope will bring the rich heritage of the valley alive for both residents and visitors. 


The project is still in its early days but we hope you will enjoy exploring the contributions we have received so far. We also hope you will step forward with your own stories and memories. There is a form at the bottom of this page for doing so or you can contact us on info@ullswaterheritage.org.  


Our sincerest thanks go to all those who have contributed to the Heritage Knowledge Bank so far and to those who have supported the project in other ways.


We have made every attempt to verify the accuracy of the information, using recognised sources. However, if you find anything you consider to be inaccurate, please let us know.

Send us an article for the Knowledge Bank

Have you a story to tell, a memory to share, or a topic you’d like included in the Knowledge Bank?  

Please use this form to get in touch.

Send us your questions about the heritage of the Ullswater Valley

Seen something unusual? Curious about a place name/ Wondering about life in the Ullswater Valley - past or present? Please send us your questions and help us grow the Knowledge Bank

Please use this form to get in touch.