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. 55 miles.
Summary of main attractions on route
|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|
|13.0 miles||Lowther Park||N 54.61013, W 2.74821|
|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 attraction car park coordinates are available as Points Of Interest (POI) files for your sat nav device. Use the following link to download a zip file containing the most common POI file formats; Ullswater – Lowther – Haweswater POI. Further information on sat nav files can be found on the Navigation page.
Distance: 0 miles
Location: Pooley Bridge Village
Coordinates: N 54.61172, W 2.82135
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 isn’t 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 with various stops along the way. The historic road bridge over the River Eamont was famously destroyed in December 2015 by storm Desmond, the new bridge was opened in 2020.
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 where there are some attractive shingle beaches. Pay and display car parks either side of the road bridge, public toilets in the village.
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 is the dead end Martindale road which follows the shores of Ullswater with some wonderful scenery along the way. The road soon passes a number of camp sites which are very popular in season. Beyond these the road narrows and descends to Sharrow Bay where it follows the lake shore although views of the lake are somewhat hidden by trees and there isn’t much opportunity for stopping.
Eventually reach the hamlet of Howtown where Ullswater Steamers regularly pour walkers on to the adjacent pier. Again there isn’t 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
The car park at Martindale Hause gives access to some wonderful viewpoints and the adjacent St Peter’s Church. The lumpy grassy area between the church and the top of the steep road section is known as ‘The Coombs’ and there are great views from here back towards Howtown and the northern end of Ullswater. Hallin Fell rises above the car park and the popular but 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. Free roadside parking which can get busy. No facilities.
The new Martindale church of St Peter’s 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 Martin’s 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.
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 first right turn, signposted to Celleron. The quiet narrow road climbs to give views towards Penrith and the Pennine mountains 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
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, around the free village car park, you will find Askham Stores village shop, The Queens Head pub and an open air swimming pool which is open to the public over the summer months. A small village green is up the hill nearby but the main green and further attractions are down the hill.
The large 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 is now a stylish hotel. Further down the hill again is St Peter’s Church and beyond that is the River Lowther.
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 on the left is Low Sawmill car park.
Distance: 13.0 miles
Location: Lowther Park, Low Sawmill car park
Coordinates: N 54.61013, W 2.74821
Lowther Park is part of the huge Lowther Estate and a delightful place to explore with its historic buildings and landscaped parkland. This car park gives access to various local walks which follow the River Lowther and also historic tree lined avenues towards nearby Lowther Castle. An information board in the car park shows the routes of signposted trails.
Up on the hill above the car park is the impressive looking St Michael’s Church and churchyard 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 ‘Earl of Lonsdale’ which houses a statue of the man locked in eerie isolation. Pay and display car park, facilities at nearby Lowther Castle.
Turn left out of the car park, away from the river and up the small hill to pass St Michael’s Church on the left. Continue across a cattle grid and through attractive open parkland. Don’t 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 and Gardens are the centrepiece of the Lowther Estate and 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 an ongoing restoration project has saved the castle and brought the gardens back to life.
You can wander within the castle ruin and around the numerous attractive themed gardens. There are fabulous views of the castle from the huge gently sloping lawn and also of the Lowther valley from the limestone escarpment walk. Beyond this is an impressive adventure playground. The stable courtyard has been sympathetically renovated to provide a cafe, gift shop and toilet facilities. Entrance fee applies to the castle and gardens which are open daily all year. Free parking.
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.
Lakeland Bird Of Prey Centre
Distance: 14.6 miles
Location: Lakeland Bird Of Prey Centre
Coordinates: N 54.60701, W 2.72756
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 Easter to November, entrance fee applies.
** Summer 2022 – Centre has not reopened since Covid, hope to in 2023. Cafe is open at times **
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 and St Barnabas Church. Beyond the village, the narrow road continues through pleasant countryside and woodland with some views over the Eden valley towards the Pennine mountains. Eventually descend to enter the village of Morland. At the T junction in the village, opposite St Lawrence’s 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
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.
Around The Square are various historic buildings, including the popular Mill Yard cafe, which used to be a Sawmill, and the Crown Inn. Pretty Morland Beck cascades through the village with an impressive fall under the road bridge and you can follow it upstream along Water Street behind the Crown Inn which makes a pleasant stroll. There is also an old mill race alongside the road which once powered the old Sawmill. Behind the cafe are the attractive Morland House gardens which include the beck downstream of the bridge and are worth exploring. There is a charge for visiting which can be paid online or there are cash boxes at the gardens. Free roadside parking but no shop or public toilets.
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 on the generally straight minor road, again with distant views across the Eden valley. After approx 3 miles, pass through an impressive tree lined section before a couple of sharp bends bring you to 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 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. Apparently, it is one of only three village greens in England still grazed by sheep but there is certainly plenty of space for them. 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.
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, the impressive St Lawrence’s Church and The Butchers Arms pub. 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. As the gradient eases there are good views over the Eden valley towards the Pennine mountains. You may be able to see a tiny white ball on top of the Pennines, especially if the sun is reflecting off it. This is a radar station for Air Traffic Control and sits on top of Great Dun Fell which at 848m is the second highest mountain in the Pennines. The highest is Cross Fell (893m), just to the north of Great Dun Fell.
Continue along the elevated road and you soon get good views 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 Michael’s 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, just beyond a zebra crossing.
Distance: 29.5 miles
Location: Shap Village
Coordinates: N 54.52902, W 2.67619
Once a village of some prominence due to its location on the main A6 road, Shap offered comfort to those travelling over the notorious Shap summit before the M6 motorway was completed around 1970. Much quieter nowadays and not much to see but the long linear village does offer a few facilities for visitors, including a small supermarket, post office, cafe, Shap chippy and a few different pubs. There is also an open air swimming pool which claims to be the highest heated outdoor pool in England. 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 and public toilets at the village car park.
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. Keld Chapel is the first building on the left. 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 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 and hidden 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 attractive open grassy area next to the River Lowther. Free roadside parking in the village, no facilities.
**2023 – Chapel currently closed for conservation works**
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
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. Small parking charge if you’re not English Heritage members. No facilities on site, nearest in Shap village.
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 small and pleasant village of Bampton Grange. Pass St Patrick’s Church on the left, 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 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 1930’s, 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 but no facilities.
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 Haweswater 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
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 with variety of bird species in the area including Buzzards and Peregrines. The Wild Haweswater initiative offers a number of seasonal wildlife experiences along with its various conservation and restoration projects. Free car park but it can fill early in season and at weekends. No facilities.
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. The Mardale Inn community pub is on the left and soon meet a T junction with Bampton shop & tea room opposite. Turn left 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
Return to start point.