Set in stunning surroundings and flanked by pretty peaks, Ullswater – England’s second largest lake – is one of those destinations you never forget. That’s why we’ve been camping at Ullswater for years, as this lake is perfect for swimming, the nearby hills have fantastic walks, and the towns and villages here are quaint and pretty.
After visiting this region many times we wanted to share with you some of our favourite Ullswater campsites and what exists near each. We then explain wild camping in Ullswater, and let you know what weather to expect.
So read on to begin your Ullswater camping adventure!
Camping at Ullswater
This area of outstanding beauty is not only perfect for hikers and nature lovers, but there are also many family friendly activities situated around the lake too – like the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre or jumping on board one of the steamboats!
However when deciding where you wish to camp, it’s helpful to know what the surrounding area offers. So we’ve split Ullswater into two parts for simplicity’s sake – the north shore, and the south shore. Later we will share our favourite campsites on each side of the lake.
It’s possible to easily drive along the whole of the north shore, so this side tends to be more accessible and less remote than the south and is home to the famous Aira Force Waterfall.
The south shore is more rural, but there’s some fantastic walks such as the hike from Patterdale to Place Fell which will bring you to one of the highest points in Ullswater and boasts stunning panoramic views. The historic Cockpit Stone Circle – estimated to be around 5500 years old – can also be found on this side.
From Patterdale, which is where the south and north shores come together, you can find countless gorgeous walks and hikes too. If you’re wanting a camping holiday that combines walking, then a good Ullswater walking book – like this one – is a must.
Below we share some of our favourite Ullswater campsites!
Some of the best Ullswater campsites: North shore
Waterfoot Caravan Park
This caravan park is set in gorgeous surroundings and is nestled beside a river that runs into Ullswater. The site itself is clean, the facilities are modern and there’s even a shop, bar and play area. However, while motorhomes and caravans are welcome, they don’t accept tents – although there are glamping options.
The lake is just a five minute walk away, while the pretty village of Pooley Bridge, where you can find pubs, shops and steamboat trips for the lake, is just a 15 minute walk away.
The Quiet Site
We love this campsite for the incredible views down towards Ullswater and across the surrounding fells. It’s the perfect place to get back into nature and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
This campsite is tranquil, well-maintained, and with so many trails and paths nearby, it’s perfect for a nature lover looking to explore this stunning region by foot. They also have a lovely on-site bar where you can enjoy a drink guilt free as it’s a zero waste eco-friendly campsite!
Gillside Camping and Caravan Park Ullswater
If you’re looking for a campsite which has both lakeside access and is beside some of the best hiking routes in the Lake District, then this place will be perfect. From this campsite you can hike to Helvellyn, a 950m mountain that rises steeply beside Ullswater, you can take the trail to the scenic Fairfield Peak, and can even make your way to pretty Thirlmere reservoir.
This quiet campsite is also just a five minute walk from the Ullswater steamboats and is close to pubs and cafes. With the pitches looking on to stunning surroundings, it’s definitely one of our favourite Ullswater campsites.
Some of the best Ullswater campsites: South shore
Hillcroft Caravan Park
This caravan park and campsite has friendly staff and one of the best shower blocks we’ve ever come across! In fact all the facilities here tend to be spotless, the atmosphere is relaxed, and there’s a nice playpark for kids too.
Situated just five minutes walk from Pooley Bridge, the site is close to three pubs and the pier to catch the Ullswater steamers, and has many walking and cycling routes nearby.
This friendly campsite sits as close to the lake as possible, so you’ll enjoy waking up to the sounds of water lapping against the shore. What we loved in particular was the fact you can hire kayaks and paddle boards from the campsite, so you can have your morning coffee and then be on the water five minutes later!
The facilities are immaculate and the views spectacular, and while it feels remote and secluded you’re still only a mile away from Pooley Bridge which can be reached by a pretty lakeside footpath. This is probably our favourite Ullswater campsite.
Wild camping at Ullswater
Like other areas of England, wild camping at Ullswater isn’t officially allowed, however people still do it. Although campers are allowed to pitch their tent if they have the permission of a landowner.
However as this area is a popular walking and hiking area, many outdoor enthusiasts often wild camp here. If you are planning to wild camp in the Ullswater region – and can’t be swayed to stay in a campsite instead – we’ve compiled the following guidelines to help keep you out of trouble and camp in a considerate manner:
- You should camp in the same place for one night only, and pitch your tent discretely and in a remote place which will not be easily seen. Therefore don’t camp in or near settlements, someone’s farm or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, always seek out the landowner and ask permission. They may request a small fee.
- Campers should set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet, blends in with the landscape, and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a lightweight walking tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to wild camp at Ullswater.
- If you are walking a main trail you should camp away from the path as a matter of courtesy.
- When wild camping in Ullswater you must never make a campfire. For cooking, use a storm cooker. Our recommendation would be the Swedish brand Trangia, as their storm cookers are safe and virtually indestructible. Portable solar ovens, like this one by GoSun, are also a good fuel-less option.
- Take any rubbish with you, and leave your camping spot exactly the way you found it.
Camping at Ullswater: Weather and best months to visit
Summer is the most popular season to visit Ullswater as daytime temperatures tend to be a pleasant 15-20 Celsius. That makes the summer months perfect for outside adventures, but it is worth bearing in mind that rainy days do still occur.
Spring and Autumn are good seasons to visit as you will avoid the peak tourist months, and with daytime temperatures ranging from 8-16 Celsius, it’s still possible to enjoy the great outdoors. One thing to be aware of is the fact nighttime temperatures can sometimes drop to 2 or 3 degrees, so if you’re camping make sure you’re well prepared.
Winter often sees frost on the hills and peaks that surround Ullswater, making it one of the most photogenic seasons. However it can be cold, with daytime temperatures rarely making it above 6-8 Celcius, some snow on occasion, and rain every other day.
Recommended for your Ullswater camping adventure
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