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18 June 2014
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Rambling country | Ullswater and Haweswater

Spectacular scenery

Ullswater c/co Eden Council

The Lake District is one of the most spectacular landscapes in Britain, idealised by Victorian poets and painters as a rural idyll and an escape for city dwellers.

Look out for England's only Golden Eagle plus a wide range of rambling opportunities.

Ullswater. Photo - Eden Council

The Ullswater area retains much of its wilderness charm with its lakes, mountains, and picturesque towns, in spite of the thousands of tourists which visit the area.

Ullswater and Haweswater are both located in the northern Lakes, and both provide a wildlife paradise for nature lovers.

Ice packed

Lakeside habitatUllswater is also one of Britain's great walking destinations where ramblers can enjoy stunning scenery as they climb above the Lakes District's second largest lake, which is 7.5 miles long and 3/4 mile wide.

The lake is surrounded by dramatic mountains including High Street, High Raise and Helvellyn, one of the most famous peaks in the country.

The hills around Ullswater have been sculpted by the great forces of nature particularly during the period when Britain was emerging from the grip of the last Ice Age.

Evidence of this deep freeze, which took place about 12,000 years ago, can still be seen today.

Ullswater's 'U' shaped valleys are a classic sign that a glacier has carved its way through the area.

Look carefully and you can see deep scratch marks or striations on the rocks, showing that a glacier was once here, pushing rubble ahead of it like a giant conveyor belt.

When the ice melted, it left a hollow which filled with the melting ice water and rain, resulting in today's lake.

When the ice melted the plant life moved upwards to the fell tops, and it's still possible to see a few small plants which are survivors from the Ice Age.

As you walk up the fells, you can see the plant life changing from plants that live in the damp valley bottoms to the alpine survivors up on the summits.

In the nineteenth century William Wordsworth wrote his classic poem about daffodils at Ullswater, and modern visitors can still see these flowers dancing in the breeze throughout the Spring.

Changing landscapes

RamblersDown on the valley bottom near Ullswater there is some great nature to explore, and much of this is due to man's intervention in the landscape.

There are many different types of small mammal including Mice and Voles.

The Lake District is also a very good place to see Dragonflies in all their glory. They breed in water and a warm Summer day is the best time to see them.

Other creatures to watch out for are Adders with their distinctive zig-zag patterns, but be careful to watch from a safe distance as they are Britain's only venomous reptile.

The balance in the plant species has been starting to change with new farming methods, and the introduction of new animals to the area such as sheep.

Sheep are relatively newcomers to Ullswater, and their style of grazing means that many flowers on the fells get nibbled before they have the chance to seed.

Ullswater c/o Eden CouncilConservation

In other areas there are fewer sheep and farmers being encouraged to farm in a more environmentally sensitive way, resulting in the return of heather and plants to hillsides that were previously grazed bare.

At Glenamara Park cattle are being used as a tool for nature conservation management in woodlands.

Sheep have been replaced for at least part of the year by cows, which feed in a different way, and are good for regenerating the land because they eat vegetation of a low digestibility and break up vegetation mats with their hooves.

Cattle are also less likely to browse on young tree growth than sheep which means that they are good for tree regeneration and result in a greater variety of vegetation types and associated insects and birds.

Golden Eagles

Golden EagleIf you fancy spotting large birds of prey, then you head a few miles south of Ullswater to Haweswater.

This beautiful reservoir was created in the 1930s to provide water for Manchester, but today it is home to a very special bird, the Golden Eagle.

Haweswater is the only place in England where Golden Eagles nest, and the current solo Golden Eagle is the only one in the country.

Conservationists are hoping to attract another bird from Scotland to breed with this majestic creature.

The male bird at Haweswater is about eight-years-old. He feeds off medium sized mammals up to the size of a Roe Deer, and rules his territory in the valley below.

This large bird has a wingspan of six feet with a distinctive shaped head and large yellow talons.

He often puts on spectacular display flights over the Riggindale valley, probably in the hope of attracting a new female to join him.

Since 1969, the various Haweswater Golden Eagles have produced 16 young, but none have fledged since 1996 and no eggs have been laid in four of the last five years.

OtterWild life watching

The Haweswater Estate is also important for a wide range of birds and other wildlife.

Its oak woodlands are an important habitat for Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers and Wood Warblers.

Ramblers should also watch out for Peregrine Falcons nesting on the crags, and Ring Ouzels and Wheatears nesting on the sides of the fells.

Another of species which is flourishing in the Lake District is the Otter.

To get a glimpse of one you'll need to be up early or be around at dusk.



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