The Ullswater Reach is a 3-season kayakpacking route in the Lake District National Park located in the northwest corner of the UK. The second largest lake in the park (it's actually classified as a 'mere' or 'water'), Ullswater is 3.4 sqMi (8.9 sqKm) glacier formed body awash in both geological and natural history. With plenty of camping options to make it a great sub 24-hour overnight (S24O), Ullswater makes a great kayak camping getaway all but a short drive from some of the UKs major cities.
Easy water access via any one of many small lay-bys along the A592 allows you to custom make a long or short route on day one. This round trip version puts-in and takes out at at a shallow-banked lay-by not even a quarter mile east of Lakefield Boathouse (www.lakefieldboathouse.com) at 54°34'37.2"N 2°53'43.1"W – and puts the Wall Holm Island overnight camp at just 3.3 miles.
An early start will allow you enough time to explore the many islands and rocky outcroppings that frequent the landscape. A stop at Norfolk Island, the largest in Ullswater, will give you unencumbered views both northeast and south and reminds us that as kayakers we gain access to views that would otherwise be missed from the shoreline.
Camp for the night is just under a mile south on Wall Holm. If you find yourself making this trek during the winter months (this trip was recorded in late November) you can expect air temps to be in the 37-39 F range (3-4 C) and the water hovering around 53 F (12 C) so plan on adding a wetsuit/drysuit to your kit. Additionally the days are short at this latitude so plan on having your sleep system set up by 4 to give yourself enough time to make dinner and settle in while there is still light
This southern stretch of Ullswater in incredibly beautiful even in mid-winter. Wall Holm is framed by the 2000ft (600m) Place Fell rising but a mile southeast of camp and equally high ranges to the northwest. Local populations of swans, ducks and geese will be regular companions on the paddle and with the relative remoteness of the park you will experience little light pollution so star-gazing can take the place of browsing your cell phone.
Favorable weather on your return trip could give you enough time to paddle the 7 miles all the way to the northern shore at Pooley Bridge Boathouse and still have you back at the take-out by mid-afternoon.
The wind typically blows off the fells at the southern end of the lake and leads to a south westerly wind which can prove to be very helpful when heading back to the put in. Check the forecast and bear this wind direction and speed in mind when planning your route, out in the middle of the lake it can pick up strength leading to slightly choppy and confused conditions.
SCOTT ANDERSON is a professional photographer, outdoor enthusiast and self-described 'intrepid traveller'- a trait that runs long and deep in his family.
He resides thoughtfully in North-East England near the Nothumberland coast which serves as a backdrop for some of his many adventures.