477km (296 miles) NW of London; 42km (26 miles) SE of Keswick

Set in a region that is home to contrasting vistas of gently rolling fields and dramatic mountain rises, Ullswater is a favorite with those who enjoy spectacular natural beauty. Ullswater itself is a 14km (9-mile) expanse of water stretching from Pooley Bridge to Patterdale and is the second-largest lake in the district. It is a magnet for outdoor types of all levels of ability, offering activities that range from walks and hikes around the shore to rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, sailing, and even windsurfing.

This part of the Lakeland, where the majesty of nature tends to entrance and envelop, has always held a special attraction for artists and writers. The area gained most of its fame from writings by the likes of Wordsworth during the early 19th century. It was on the shores of Ullswater that Wordsworth saw his "host of golden daffodils." Aira Force waterfall, near the National Trust's Gowbarrow, inspired both Wordsworth and Coleridge by its beauty. While using this area as a base for outdoor activities, you can also easily explore the many places of prehistoric and historical significance, from the times of the ancient Celts right through to modern day. Two noteworthy sites include Long Meg and her "daughters," an ancient stone circle near Penrith; and Hadrian's Wall, marking the northern extent of the Roman Empire, east of Carlisle.

In Ullswater, two 19th-century steamers provide the best way to see the area's panoramic mountain scenery around the lake. In season, there are two scheduled services daily between Glenridding, Howtown, and Pooley Bridge as well as five shorter 1-hour cruises. Passengers may choose to walk back along the lakeside path or break for lunch at either end of the lake. The steamers run every day but December 25 and January 1. Round-trip tickets between Glenridding, Howtown, and Pooley Bridge cost £8.80 to £12 for adults or £4.40 to £6 for children, with a family ticket ranging from £24 to £30. The higher prices are charged in midsummer. For more information, call tel. 01768/482229 or see www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk. Glenridding is on the A592 at the southern end of Ullswater. Pooley Bridge is 8km (5 miles) from the M6 Junction 40 to Penrith.