Glenridding (meaning “glen overgrown with bracken”) is a small, mainly tourist village at the southern end of Ullswater, near the foot of Kirkstone Pass.
Lead ore was first discovered at what became the Greenside Lead Mine in the 1650s, with the first levels being driven by Dutch adventurers in the 1690s. Dressed ore was carried to the Stoneycroft smelter at Keswick. Production did not really begin until the late 18th century, with the mine not being extensively worked until 1825. Power was originally provided by water-wheels, with the water being supplied by the damming of nearby tarns. One of these, Keppel Cove, burst its banks in 1927, bringing disaster to the village below. Much the same happened four years later, when flood waters smashed through the concrete of High Dam. By the early 1960s, it had become uneconomic to continue to extract lead from the mine, and it closed. Most of the mine buildings are now gone, but a few remain and serve as a Youth Hostel and mountain huts.
In the latter stage of the mine’s life, for a short period, Greenside Mine came under the control of the UK Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, and was used to test a theory that an underground nuclear test explosion could be made undetectable by its seismic signal. The experiment was known as Operation Orpheus, and involved two test explosions at Greenside Mine.
With the lead mining industry gone, the area is now mainly for the tourists who come to view one of the most beautiful areas in the Lakes. The area is popular with walkers with many walks to suit all levels from the easy to the more demanding. One reason a lot of walkers come here is to do the classic Helvellyn walk along Striding Edge. This is a walk not for the fainted hearted with Helvellyn reaching a height of 3,116ft [950m].
Please take local advice before attempting Striding Edge if you are not a very experienced mountaineer, and check both the Hill Top Weather Reports and the Safety on the Fells page. Both ice and winds can be extreme at the top when seemingly fine down in the valley, and many, many accidents and deaths have occurred here.
At the other end of the spectrum, you could combine a walk and a cruise along Ullswater Lake on one of the steamers that can be seen on the lake. The Ullswater Steamers the “Lady of the Lake” and “Raven” date from 1877 and 1889. You can board these steamers either at Glenridding, Howtown or at the northern end of Ullswater at Pooley Bridge. You will see fine scenery along the 7.5 mile lake’s length.
Nearby attractions include Aira Force where you will see a spectacular 60 ft waterfall. There are bridges at the top and bottom to view from.
At Glencoyne Bay, about a mile north of Glenridding, you will find the daffodils that inspired william Wordsworth to write his famous poem.
Close to Glenridding is the small village of Patterdale – another popular area for walkers for Helvellyn and the surrounding fells and peaks. In the village is St. Patrick’s Church, by the Victorian architect Anthony Salvin. It contains notable tapestries by Ann Macbeth (who lived in the village from 1921 until her death in 1943). Salvin was also the architect of Patterdale Hall, now an outdoor education centre.
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