The contrast could hardly be more different.
One minute the roar of motorway traffic is our noisy, past-in-a-flash companion.
The next there’s peace, quiet and slow-right-down solitude.
OK, so it might not have been exactly a minute, but it was less than 10. And that was the first welcome but downright surprising thing about Ullswater.
The sheer speed or, obviously, the lack of it at which the pace of life drops away.
It’s the second-largest lake in England, more than eight miles long, lauded as the country’s most beautiful and therefore a massive part of the Lake District, that mega-popular tourist Mecca, thronged with visitors at every turn.
And while Ullswater is hardly an undiscovered, hidden gem, it’s refreshingly chilled out and uncrowded for the Lake closest to the M6.
In no time at all we’re pulling in to the Brackenrigg Inn, an 18th Century hostelry on the western shore near Watermillock.
It’s a slightly late-ish arrival so there’s really just time for a bite to eat and a beer or two in the snug and welcoming bar.
But after a set-us-up-for-the-day full English the following morning, there’s time to appreciate how the slightly elevated position gives the perfect view of the watery wonder spread before us.
And it seems the best way to appreciate it is getting on it, not skirting round it.
Ullswater Steamers have been chugging their way up and down the Lake for a century-and-a-half now.
And a couple of the fleet, the Glasgow-built Lady of the Lake and The Raven, are 19th Century time capsules still doing it today.
We got the old Lady herself and one wee piece of advice: get a seat near the cosy funnel you could well appreciate the warmth.
Talk about four seasons in one day. We saw them in just 75 minutes, the time it took for the round trip from Glenridding at the southern end of the lake.
While the boats maintain a steady pace, these same waters were the ones on which Sir Donald Campbell skimmed over at more than 200mph in 1955 to set a new world water speed record.
The halfway point on our voyage is Howtown.
It’s basically just a stop-off point for those who want to take a hike back along the lake shore to Glenridding.
We stay on for the whole journey up to Pooley Bridge at the north end and back, but fellow passengers enthusing about the spectacle of the walk entice us to give at least a bit of it a try when we’re back in Glenridding.
And what a way to stretch the legs.
Alfred Wainwright, doyen of Lake District fell walkers made famous to a new generation by Julia Bradbury’s BBC TV programmes, described it as “the most beautiful of lake walks in the National Park.”
On a bright, if changeable, day it was hard to argue.
Ullwater’s where Wordsworth was inspired to pen his famous Daffodils poem and the scenic beauties do indeed seem boundless.
It’s been enough of a fresh air day to just want to tuck in and sup up back at the hotel that evening.
But we’re back along the pleasantly empty road to pick things up afresh the next day.
Both Glenridding and neighbouring Patterdale are magnets for those looking to take to the hills.
Many classic routes up some of the fells start from here, including Hellvellyn, one of the three Munro-height peaks in England.
As tender-toed novices, though, a bit of a potter on the fringes was enough for us.
Looking for a spot of refreshment we reckon we couldn’t have done better than the Inn on the Lake.
The extensive grounds sweep down to the waters and the Lake View lounge bar was the perfect place for a reviving cuppa. Upmarket and classy, it wasn’t exactly cheap but it is nice!
The whole Ullswater area has a timeless feel, an air of Victorian splendour that’s anything but dated.
And not far away, back near the M6, is the award-winning Rheged visitor attraction.
Celebrity chefs’ creations can be sampled at the cafes and there’s something for all the family at all times.
The Pottery Painting Workshop gives you scope to unleash your creative side and there are cookery classes, indoor and outdoor softplay and a variety of exhibitions at the top floor gallery.
Classy and so well designed it fits right in to its environment, it’s a great example of how Ullswater can continue to adapt and change quietly, of course.