Ullswater/Patterdale Valley – Glenridding to Sheffield Pike round

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Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.

The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region.

Glenridding, situated on the shore at the southern end of Ullswater, is set in some of the most beautiful countryside of the Ullswater and Patterdale valley. Surrounded by wonderful fells no wonder Glenridding is popular with mountain walkers Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain, and many challenging peaks can be walked from here. Glenridding provides ample accommodation including camping, youth hostels, self catering cottages, guest houses and hotels and also a good range of local shops, cafes, restaurants, a pub the Travellers Rest and two hotels with bars; the Ratchers Tavern attached to the Glenridding Hotel and the Ramblers Bar attached to the Inn on the Lake Hotel. The Ullswater Steamers who run regular trips across Ullswater to Howtown and Pooley Bridge and the Glenridding Sailing Centre who offer boat hire and sailing tuition are also very popular. The village and surrounding area was used to film the TV series The Lakes. Red Tarn on the eastern side of Helvellyn flows outwards into Glenridding Beck which then flows alongside Greenside Road into Glenridding and Ullswater.
Greenside lead mine, located up a steep and winding track above Glenridding is the site of the largest lead mine in the Lake District. Lead ore was discovered in the area around Nick Head in the 1650’s and the site was mined from the 1690’s to 1962. The mine was still working when Wainwright was preparing his book, Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Since the 1970’s the site has been owned by The National Park Authority who have been trying to stabilise some of the tips to stop them sliding down the hillside and also making sure the water from the underground workings does not pollute surrounding water courses or Ullswater Lake. When the mine closed down a lot of the buildings were demolished and the few that remained are now used as youth hostels by schools and other visiting groups. Without the mine the houses and economy of Glenridding and surrounding area would not have existed. The views from the top are stunning.

Sheffield Pike at 675m (2215ft) is an outlier fell of the Helvellyn range and stands on the eastern side of the range overlooking Ullswater. Sheffield Pike with its steep sides separates Glencoyne from the Glenridding valley. The upper slopes on both sides are dominated by outcrops of rock and the Glenridding Screes on the south side are especially steep. The summit with areas of boggy ground is marked by a broad cairn on which stands an old boundary marker dated 1830. The pike standing between the two valleys and at the head of a third is drained on the northern slopes by Glencoyne Beck, the southern slopes by Glenridding Beck and the eastern side by Mossdale Beck.

The Walk

From the tourist information centre we make our way across the car park slightly to the right and go through the opening signposted Helvellyn via Greenside Road. We turn left and follow Greenside Road past the Travellers Rest and two rows of cottages on our right. We keep heading forwards with Glenridding Beck on our left until we come to the YHA. We cross the bridge over Swirl Beck go through a gate then turn right signposted Brown Cove, Whiteside Bank and Sticks Pass. We follow the track round to the left then cross over a little beck and turn right signposted Sticks Pass. We follow the track which zigzags uphill then levels out to reach a bridge. We cross the bridge and bear right following the path uphill towards the left of a cluster of peaks on the horizon. When we reach the dip between the fells Sheffield Pike on our right and the Dodd’s range on our left, we head forwards across a small area of flat ground to take a path on the edge round the other side of Sheffield Pike. The path was blocked with snow (too dangerous to cross) so we had to turn back to the area of flat ground and turn left uphill to the summit of Sheffield Pike. At the summit the views are superb. We now bear right and follow the foot path downhill heading towards the end of Ullswater and a wall corner. We eventually come to the wall, turn right and head forwards. At the corner we turn left then right onto the track going downhill. This track leads us back down to Greenside Road where we turn left and head back to the car park.


This is a moderate to hard walk on mainly good paths and tracks.

Elevation: Lowest point 153.80m (504.6ft) highest point 671.20m (2202.10ft)

Distance and Start Point

Approx 4.5 miles allow 3 hours using OS Explorer map OL5, The English Lakes North-eastern area.

Start point: Glenridding pay and display car park.


Glenridding is in the Patterdale valley in the Lake District, Cumbria.

Directions and Parking

From the A66 at Troutbeck take the A5091on the left sign posted Troutbeck and Ullswater. Follow the A5091 until it joins the A592, on the edge of Ullswater, turn right and follow the road to Glenridding. Car park is on the right.

Parking: National Trust Pay and Display car parks £7 for all day.

Toilets and Refreshments

There are public toilets in Glenridding next door to the Tourist Information Centre in the main car park. For refreshments there are a number of shops, a cafe and restaurant, coffee house, pubs and hotels with bars.

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