The Cover Photo for this article was taken by Nigel Lamb from the ridge above Barton Fell, the day before the WandererNorth group met up, showing the northern end of Ullswater (a part of the lake that was sailed by the group). Ullswater YC is just off the far left of the photo. The campsite visible in the picture is where some members stayed when not camping at the yacht club – a 5 to10 minute walk between the two. Pooley Bridge, the cluster of buildings covered in trees at the northernmost end of the lake was a cruise destination. Howtown, where members beached on both days, is 3 miles south of the yacht club, roughly halfway down the length of the lake (total length is just under 9 miles).
The beautiful weather of that day and after the event, shows how unlucky the group were to be battered by Storm Betty which swept through the North West during the two central days of the event, the weekend of 19-20 August. However, Maria’s report is a fine tribute to the resilience of the group and all that they managed to do in the weather while showing us just how lovely sailing on Ullswater would be in more clement conditions.
Friday 18th to Monday 21st August 2023
Article by Maria Lamb, Photos by Nigel Lamb
A great time was enjoyed by those who went to Ullswater in the Lake District in August for the Association’s first WandererNorth event.
There was a total of nine boats, and we were based at the Ullswater Yacht Club, who were very friendly and helpful hosts. The majority of us camped at the Club, with a few staying in local accommodation.
The weather could have been kinder! We had intermittent rain and fairly strong and gusty winds (Storm Betty) during much of the time we were there, but it did not deter us or make it less enjoyable.
Some of us who had travelled up from the South arrived at the Lakes a few days before the event started. Nigel and I brought our walking boots and discovered the fells surrounding Ullswater. We also met by chance with others and had an enjoyable time sailing on Windermere. The entire WandererNorth party arrived at the Yacht Club from lunchtime onwards on the Friday. It was suggested that we might sail in the afternoon, but with gusty winds and threatened rain, only one boat braved it – with the rest of us watching with interest!
On Saturday the weather took a turn for the worse with very strong winds with 40 mph gusts and frequent rain – so no one sailed that day. Even the Ullswater Steamer was cancelled due to the conditions but some of us enjoyed watching the small number of windsurfers who braved it.
The weather was dry but still windy on Sunday, so we all went out, the majority with reefed or cutdown sails and furled jibs. Alasdair kindly drove the safety boat. This was as well as he was kept fairly busy. We sailed down Ullswater to Howtown, where we landed on a secluded little beach next to the Steamer jetty for a packed lunch.
Some of us enjoyed hot drinks in the nearby tea rooms and we then had an exciting run in some sunshine up to Pooley Bridge. We had planned to land there but were unable to do so due to large numbers of people on the beaches and the close proximity of paddle boards and canoes, so we returned to the Yacht Club.
On Monday some of our party had to return home, leaving just a few of us. The weather had deteriorated with strong winds and rain so in the end only two boats went out (one with two of Alasdair’s friends who had travelled from Arnside), Alasdair helming our boat with me as crew and Nigel on safety boat. Again, we both sailed with furled jibs and reefed mainsails. By the time we reached Howtown we were all soaked with the spray and rain and were relieved to find the tea rooms open to escape the weather and warm up and dry out a little.
We then sailed back to the Club with just our jibs, and after a cuppa at the Club, packed up our boats and went our separate ways.
Despite the poor weather and challenging sailing conditions, we all had a good time. We all ate out at local pubs over the three evenings which was enjoyable and allowed us to all get to know each other better.
Ullswater is a beautiful part of the Lakes surrounded by stunning scenery, which made sailing a memorable experience. Also, apart from Pooley Bridge and the campsites within its outskirts, it was surprisingly quiet for the time of year. Whilst walking in the beautiful and uncrowded fells in the days before and after the sailing the weather was considerably better, and you could see how idyllic sailing on Ullswater can be in better conditions. We will definitely go back! Ullswater Yacht Club is indeed a fine place to visit and with fine weather a circumnavigation of the whole Water would be a challenging but wonderful sail.