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  • Writer's pictureStephen Maguire

A Guide to The Boathouse on Ullswater. How to find it, best times to visit and more...

The Lake District National Park is truly an amazing place and there are far too many beautiful places that it would be impossible to cover in one blog. Even Ullswater, the second largest lake in the national park is too big to cover in one blog.

Instead I will focus on one small area and my favourite part of the lake. At the end of the Lake closest to Pooley Bridge you will find this beautiful boathouse.

This unique and iconic, boathouse is actually a luxury one bedroom property which is available to let on various sites. Surely this is not many other places in the lakes that offer such tranquil views!

The Boathouse was once owned by The Duke of Portland and has been voted “the best waterside retreat” by BBC Countryfile Magazine! Its location at the top of Ullswater gives it superb, unparalleled views across this beautiful lake.

The boathouse is one of the most iconic and most photographed buildings in the Lake District. It originally belonged to the 3rd Duke of Portland in the 18th century, who was Prime Minister twice and was in constant dispute with the Earl of Lowther. Unfortunately, the Duke of Portland had to sell the boathouse along with his Cumberland estates to pay his legal bills. Now it is available to book for overnight stays and is commonly used for newlyweds.

How to get there?

There are two main ways to arrive at this area, the easiest would be leaving the M6 motorway at Junction 40, Penrith and making the ten minute or so car journey towards Pooley Bridge by travelling along the A66 and then the A592.

The A592 will take you directly to Ullswater, you will arrive at a T-Junction and the lake will be infant of you. To your immediate left there is a car park. Its pay and display and doesn't accept cards so make sure you have some cash with you. £5 will allow you to park all day.

If this is full there are two other car parks in Pooley Bridge, you can get to them by turning left . The first car park is just prior to the bridge and the second to the right once you have travelled over the bridge. Its a short walk back to the boathouse from here, however there are no footpaths on the road but there is access through the woods which will lead you back to the T-Junction.

Where to set up?

This all depends on the time of the year, in the winter months the lake will be full so unless you have waders you'll be best setting up on the wall or the edge of the road. As you can see from below, there is no footpath and with just a wall and a small part of the road space is a premium. However in the summer the lake will be shallower and its possible to stand on a small shore line. The advantage is you get closer to the Boathouse. The stretch of road and small bank offer different perspectives and the ability change your angles. However if you want to get more of the lake and surrounding hills then you're going to need a wide angle lens and get closer to the Boathouse.


Due to the position of the lake and the Boathouse you will be left with the Boathouse to the right of your frame with the lake and mountains falling to the left. You will struggle to get a direct sunrise or sunset shot as the Boathouse is south facing, the closest direct sunset shot you will get will be in December but to be fair if their is cloud around you can get some great colours stretching across the sky at sunrise and sunset but it doesn't last long.

The lake is well used and as its large it will have a slight current. I often find that reflections can be achieved when the wind speed is less than 5 mph, however the lake has a slight current from the wind so early mornings are best to get those reflection shots. Add a little bit of fog and you'll get a cracking moody shot!

The images below were taken in May this year, the first was my first shot of the day and was taken approximately an hour prior to sunset. For this angle I was standing on the shore line close to the bend in the road. At 35 mm I was able to be close enough to obtain the detail of the Boathouse whilst incorporating the lovely hills to the left. This shot was achieved with the following settings; 35mm, F13, ISO 100 with a 30 second exposure using a ND1000 filter.

The next image was taken approximately half way through the golden hour and just gives an indication of the colours that can be obtained at sunset. Slightly wider angle with an adjusted perspective by moving further along the shore line away from the Boathouse. Camera settings; 26mm, F13, ISO 100 with a 60 second exposure using a ND1000 filter.

The last image and probably my favourite was the last of the day and caught the falling light. Camera settings; 30mm, F11, ISO 100 with a 180 second exposure using a ND1000 filter.

Long Exposure Photography

To obtain long exposure shots like these you will need a sturdy tripod and be mindful of its footings especially if on the shore line. Even a slight lake current can affect the quality of your images and to avoid any motion blare make sure the tripod is well anchored.

I would advise using a remote timer or the delay timer in your camera if it has one. Even depressing the shutter button can affect the quality of your images. What looks good on the camera screen may not look as sharp when viewed on a laptop.

You may depending on the weather conditions be able to extend the shutter time naturally by using the cameras manual settings. However a ND filter should allow you to drop the shutter speed down sufficiently especially in strong light conditions. There are a variety of filters out there and the expensive ones are not always the best so do your research.

Thank You

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and I hope you find it useful. I wish you luck on your adventures all the best.

Ste x


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