nr Glenridding, Cumbria
Featured Location Guide
The most famous
of the Lake District waterfalls, it drops 65 feet and is surrounded by a
pretty woodland owned and managed by the National Trust, who have
provided graded paths to make
access easier and a viewing platform at the base.
A short distance from the National Trust car park on the A592 near
Watermillock, it is considered a moderate 2 hour walk uphill to the
waterfall. If you have the energy
and stamina there is a further waterfall beyond,
High Force, and you could continue your walk on through Gowbarrow Fell.
The stream which
flows over the waterfall is Aira Beck which runs from the Upper Slopes of
Stybarrow Dodd and through heather covered slopes of Gowbarrow Fell down to
Ullswater. One kilometre before entering the lake the beck makes a 65ft drop
down a rocky ravine at this waterfall. The waterfall is situated within
Gowbarrow Park which was originally owned by the Howard Family of Greystoke
Castle. They landscaped the area around the waterfall and used it as a pleasure
garden, planting over half a million ornamental tress and establishing a network
of tracks, footpaths and bridges. In 1906 the park was put up for sales and it
was purchased by the National Trust. It is believed that the Lakeland poet
William Wordsworth paid many visits to this area as the falls are mentioned in
three of his poems.
other two car parks on the side of the A5091 road, with no parking fees
and give access from above. From here you are closer to the falls and it
is not as far to reach, but it does involve a walk downhill through a
wooded area and then across a field with livestock in, which means on
the way back to the car you are going uphill. We used one of these car
parks on our visit.
Aira Force from the viewing platform
From the car
park you initially walk through a wooded area and at the gate, to go through the
field, you get a fantastic view of part of Ullswater.
A view from the woodland just below the second car park looking out towards
the field and through another gate you have two directions you can go. Going
left takes you up a path which reaches a bridge that goes across the top of the
falls, and if instead of going over the bridge you continue to walk ahead you
will then reach the second waterfall High Force. Turning right at the gate will
take you initially down a path and then steps to get to the viewing area at the
foot of the falls and probably the best position to take photographs. The
waterfall is situated in a wooded area and is very photogenic.
The Lower Bridge just off the viewing area
We visited at
the beginning of July and there were a few people around, but not enough to get
in the way, however the trees were in full leaf so there were restrictions on
the angle you could take to get a good photographic viewpoint without odd leaves
being in the way. At the base of the steps there was a slightly wider area
(viewing platform) where you could stand with a tripod and not be in the way of
other visitors. Just prior to our visit there had been some rain in the morning
so there was a reasonable amount of water flowing over the waterfall, in winter
when there is more rain coming off the hills the cascade is probably a lot more
dramatic, however the ground underfoot may be more muddy and slippery. Once you
have taken in the waterfall from this position then continue on along the path
over the small stone bridge and on the left you come to some steps up, with a
guide rail which then takes you up to the arched stone bridge which goes across
the top of the waterfall. The sound of the waterfall from up here as well as the
smell of the water cascading over and it's spray is intense.
Once you have
had enough continue across the bridge and from here you can go right to get to
the second waterfall or go left to complete the circular walk back to the gate,
across the field and up through the woodland back to your car.
Looking down onto the upper bridge where the waterfall cascades underneath
It is a
beautiful place to be and is quite easy to get to without having to walk an
excessive distance. So if you're not a hiker it is one waterfall you can get to
see without a significant amount of effort. The paths were wet and the steps a
little slippery when we visited, from both the small amount of rain we had had
in the morning, but also from the spay of the water as it hits the bottom.
A view of the viewing area with the steps up behind taken from the higher arched
According to the
National Trust website you should also look
out for the famous
This is one of the very few places in England where you can see them in the
A closeup of the falls taken from the viewing area at the bottom.
Aira Force, nr Glenridding, Cumbria
From M6 J40 via Keswick on the A66, or from
Windermere A592 towards Glenridding and Pooley Bridge.
from the National Trust car
on the A592 near the south eastern end
near the junction with the A5091, signposted for Aira Force,
the walk is uphill from here. The other is up on the A5091, towards
Matterdale, and gets you closer to the falls, and the walk is downhill from
3 car parks, one is National Trust on the A592
the other two are on the A5091 on the side of the road.
Seasonal tearooms and toilets in the National
Trust car park
Things To Do,
See and Photograph:
What to take:
Tripod. If visiting in winter you will need
good walking boots or wellies as the majority of paths are mud. The steps
down to the viewing platform are concrete.
singing birds, small insects like bees etc,
may be Red Squirrels.
Aira Force Cafe
CA11 0JS (tearooms)
None for the Waterfall. The National Trust car
park on the A592 is Pay and Display.
Special Needs Access:
Not suitable for wheelchair access as there
are steps and uneven ground. Not suitable for people with breathing
difficulties if you are not able to walk uphill to any degree.
Special Needs Facilities:
Yes but please keep on a lead, especially when
walking through fields with livestock.
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