The Ullswater ‘Steamers’ have been operating a service on the lake for over 150 years. Originally they carried mail and provisions between Pooley Bridge and Glenridding as well as slate from various mines in the valley and lead from the Greenside mine in Glenridding. Today, the ‘Steamers’ are one of the Lake District’s top tourist attractions and, with 4 piers around the lake, are an ideal form of transport for those who want to combine a cruise with a walk on the Ullswater Way.
Ullswater ‘Steamers’ flagship vessel, The Lady of the Lake, was launched in 1877 and is believed to be the oldest working passenger ferry in the world. She was built in Glasgow in three sections and transported to Penrith by train and then by horse dray from Penrith to Waterside, where she was assembled in just 3 months.
Raven joined Lady of the Lake in 1889 and both are still in service today, although they were converted from steam to diesel in the 1930s.
Raven was made a temporary royal yacht when the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, visited Lord Lonsdale at Lowther Castle in 1912. Her decks were painted yellow for the occasion since Lord Lonsdale was known as the “Yellow Earl”.
Lady of the Lake has survived a number of disasters. In 1881 she sank at her moorings and was re-floated by a team of divers, in 1958 she sank again in a severe storm and then in 1965 she was badly damaged by fire. For 14 years she was out of service but thankfully she was restored and refitted to her former glory by Lord Wakefield and re-launched in 1979.
Between 2001 and 2010, three additional vessels have joined the fleet - Lady Dorothy, Lady Wakefield and Western Belle and in 2015 a new jetty was opened at Aira Force.
As you watch these beautiful boats glide past, take a moment to imagine all they have seen through their long years of service
For more information about the Ullswater ‘Steamers’ visit their website.