A quick guide to Patterdale, Lake District

The Cumbrian village of Patterdale in Spring is that of a fairytale, the Lakes also known as Beatrix Potter Land hold key elements that bind the Earth’s natural wonders to all human visitors.

Situated at the foot end of Ullswater this picturesque vicinity is home to many species of fauna including the Red Squirrel, Yellowhammers and Willow Warblers. It was in 1805 when William Wordsworth based his poem “Daffodils” on this area. He writes about how there are no crowds of people and tourists as there are today, but instead Daffodils in plentiful numbers. He speaks of the plants in such a personal and interrelating way that the reader can feel and see all that he writes of. Lord Lowther and Mr Wordsworth knew each other and the Lord bought William a house in Patterdale, this house today is known as Wordsworth Cottage and can be rented out as a summer house to sleep up to 6 people. 

To get to this quaint little village, a scenic drive will be taken through Cumbria along the B592 following Ullswater from the Penrith direction or along Kirkstone Pass from Ambleside. Along the way, whatever direction driven there are many pull over places to take in the surroundings. Perfect views to get that one shot that sums Ullswater – it can be described ‘a water which one can enjoy in many different ways’, it provides both peacefulness for the hiker and adrenaline for the windsurfer or wild swimmer jumping in. Once in Patterdale, leaving the car and getting in the fresh air will be of high priority. Buses are available to and from Glenridding, however the roadside is accompanied by two tree covered footpaths so walking is often preferred.  

The Deep Freeze has shaped the whole of the Lake District, it is this natural phenomenon which is the reason it was uninhabitable around 12,000 years ago. The changes within the land are “modern” compared to Pre-Bronze Age, as residents before were not as permanent as the land was constantly changing and the deep freeze was at an end. St Patrick’s Dale, Dale meaning watered valley between two hills is known today as Patterdale and is still has its Irish orientation. It is thought that Saint Patrick arrived and turned the community Christian in the Early 5th Century. 

The Victorian Church that stands today in Patterdale is surrounded by trees and stone walls. The design of this fine building is work of Anthony Savin and two local men built it in 1853, positioned close to the Patterdale Hall and with pleasant and protective views over the Water. A morning Sunday Service occurs at 10am every week and welcomes everyone (pre-covid). The Church is situated on the Northern side of the village and hides well away from the road behind a row of trees. The back view looks over and playing field and then onto the hills, this is the direction walkers will start their hike up to Helvellyn.   

up Helvellyn

The whole of Cumbria is known for its Lakeland walks and Fell hiking, this is one of the most scenic places in the UK where National Parks take up the highest proportion of the land. There are many small villages that are off the main road and once found, will soon become popular and making visitors wanting to return over and over again. However, this is the story about Patterdale.

View towards Ullswater from Helvellyn

The walks from Patterdale can lead a hiker in many directions, the most famous being up to Helvellyn and St Sunday Crag that stands at 841 meters. The stunning 9 mile walk up out of the village to the summit of St Sunday can then take you on your adventure to Grisedale Tarn completing Dollywaggon Pike (858 meters), High Crag (884 meters), Nethermost Pike (891 meters) and onto Helvellyn (949 meters). On a clear, spring day the views are magnificent and if it’s a bit breezy there is a purpose built wind wall to shelter behind. There are then many routes to choose to make a descent, a popular ascent being along Swirral Edge, it is advised to climb up that scramble instead of down though.  

Walking up Striding Edge

Another enjoyable route is the walk up to Place Fell, leaving the village to the East, crossing the river you will be faced by the Patterdale Common, turning right at the foot of the fell you then start you ascent along the South side. At 657 meters you will be at the cairn looking over Ullswater, from there you then carry on to High Dodd (502 meters) and it is from there you decide one of three routes, depending on your choice you will end up in Sandwick and by turning left at the North side you will be following the path alongside Ullswater and end up in Patterdale once again.

Up towards Place Fell / High Dodd

There are some amazing rock features and trees along the far side of High Dodd, the perfect place to hang a hammock and spend the afternoon appreciating nature. Fell running is a popular sport and there are many places around the south of Ullswater that provide good, challenging routes. The Lakeland Trails provide some great events.

If hill walking isn’t of interest there are many gentle walks in the valleys where various arrays of fauna species can be found, from high amounts of Juniper to moss species such as Grimmia torquata and Bryum alpinum. It is a dream for any keen photographers, be it shots of the mountains, the others hikers or Nature’s wildlife that surrounds you, it is all of interest.  Including plenty of sheep!

Catching the Steamer in Glenridding across to Howtown is that of a very pretty journey with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. Many enthusiasts will be sharing the water on their sail-boats, kayaks, rowing boats and even wind surfers. All of which can be hired from the neighbouring villages that surround Ullswater. A scenic path leads back round the southern end of the lake back to Glenridding, passing through Patterdale, which has many facilities at ones disposal. 

Steamer from Glenridding to Howtown

Set back from the road, up a tree covered drive you will find Patterdale Hall. This building has been converted and set up for the teaching and training of outdoor activities. Groups come from schools and universities to gain the practical side of their studies, and having this facility is key for the development of their skills. The local University, where I attended for three years from 2009, provide courses that train students to become leaders for organisations such as these, there are courses that combine the Adventure Sports and Media together which allows each student to give an individual re-presentation of the subject. 

Over the years, as tourism has become more popular the numbers of animals have dispersed making it harder to track mammals like the Fox (Vulpes vulpes) and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus). Parish lists show that the earliest recordings of the Fox are from 1984 and the total number of records help for Fox sightings is 8. Species of mammal that have had high sighting records are the Otter (Lutra lutra), Badger (Meles meles) and Pine Marten (Martes martes). The Pine Marten has significantly decreased in recent years and are now mainly found in Scotland. 

The Cumbrian Wildlife is quite unique to the area, mainly because of the vast area available and the many ecosystems within. To find out more I would talk to Cain at Wild Intrigue.

The Lakes are known as the “Adventure Capital of the UK” and has got that title through all the activities it has to offer, from boating to caving and walking to paint-balling. The amenities that Patterdale has to offer are quite varied compared to the Lake District as a whole.  You can take different routes to see the area, from a drive down Kirkstone Pass to taking a ballon ride to get an awe inspiring panoramic. The Campsite in Patterdale is a stereotypical Cumbrian campsite with accompanying tea room open all summer months, welcoming most people, perfect for families who want to enjoy a range of activities, on the lake and the hills. 

Dusk is the perfect time of day to take a stroll as the nesting Dippers under the bridge come stretch their wings. The lambs are retreating to their mothers, the bats decide to come and hunt whilst the few minutes it takes for the sun to disappear over the mountains, the birds soon become quiet. 

Throughout the whole trip to Patterdale, on a nice day, full use of a camera will be made. The river provides slow shutter shots to fully involve you within the motion of the water, the birds provide song and a challenge to follow as they shoot through the blue sky and the people provide emotion and reflect how they feel about the area and what it makes them feel.

Enjoying Nature

Being out in the open is important for self reflection and relaxation. In the modern day family members are too caught up in work, or game consoles to explore the natural world. It is important within development of a person to discover new things and places. 

Patterdale is most definitely a place within the Lake District that one should travel to on a crisp spring day, with good company, laughter and of course, a camera.

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