“ Ullswater / Lake District / England „
When we were in the lake district recently we were driving around aimlessly looking for something to do to fill a couple of hours and find somewhere to walk the dogs when we came across the signs for Aira Force waterfall which is managed by the National Trust and is where Wordsworth was meant to have taken inspiration for much of his writing. The waterfall is around 3 miles from the village of Glenridding and is situated at OS map point NY 399205. Car drivers should put CA11 0JS into their sat nav to find it.
The car park is pay and display, it costs £3.80 for two hours parking which I found to be really expensive, the toilets are also in the car park and the ladies was horrible, very old fashioned and dirty and since they must make a small fortune from the car park I would have expected better.
You exit the car park through an arch with information boards and begin the walk. The walk is a circular walk which takes you to the waterfall and back to the carpark and is just over a mile long. The walk is through a Victorian arboretum which is planted with native species such as oak, spruce, cedar and pine. The woodland itself is lovely mature trees and if I had not had been told it was man made would have believed it to be wild native forest. The arboretum is the home to native red squirrels but we were not lucky enough to see them probably due to how busy the woodland was.
Aira Force may only be a mile long but it is a fairly challenging walk and definitely not suitable for those with disabilities or buggies due to how steep and narrow the walk is in places and also there are many steps, the longest staircase is the one which takes you to the top of the waterfall and is 112 steps high.
There are two walks you can choose from, the easiest is meant to be by turning to the left when you reach a fork in the path which is meant to bypass the 112 steps to the top but it was not signposted and so we missed the turning meaning we went up the harder way.
Walking along the side of the river is lovely with the sound of the flowing water being very relaxing. There is an old oak tree felled around a third of the way along the walk which people had hammered coins into the trunk. I have no idea if this has any significance but I was happy to use a stone to put my own 2p into the tree, there was barely any room left for new coins and it was really interesting to see foreign coins and old British money too.
When you reach the waterfall itself there are two viewing areas, one from the top of the waterfall letting you look down and another from the bottom where you are sprayed with water. The waterfall is very pretty but not nearly as spectacular as I expected it to be and the viewing areas were extremely busy. Wordsworth may have wandered along Aira Force as lonely as a cloud but if you go on the walk on a sunny day then you will have plenty of company.
The walk is suitable for taking dogs but we found it frustrating how busy it was as it meant we could not let the dogs off their leads. At one point of the walk there is an area of the river which is suitable for paddling where dogs and kids played together in the water which was lovely.
After we had completed the walk we decided to head for the tea room. I had heard lots of positive things about the National Trust tea rooms but this one was privately owned and served only sandwiches for £4 each and coffee and a few assorted cold drinks and snacks. Again this was a bit of a disappointment and the sandwiches were definitely not worth £4 each.
Aira Force is a fairly nice walk, in some ways it is a beauty spot that has been spoiled by its popularity as the fact it was so crowded on a sunny Sunday in May meant it was far less enjoyable than it would have been if it was quiet but given the popularity of the Lake District as a tourist destination it will always be busy. Recommended as a nice place to visit but not for those who want to enjoy the quiet of the countryside.
Aira Force is a waterfall that leads into Ullswater lake through the surrounding valley. It's located in the north-east corner of the Lake District National Park, just 7 miles south of Penrith.
Said to be the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, Aira Force drops over 65 feet and is in beautiful wooded surroundings. The walk to get there is fairly short and easy to manage. There are lots of viewing points and walkways along the route towards Aira Force providing lots of photo opportunities among the scenery. Another thing on your list to see is the old stone bridge that crosses the main waterfall. It stands about 60 feet in the air and looks fabulous.
There are a number of walks you can take of varying difficulty, all starting from the car parking area. We elected to go for a short walk and really enjoyed ourselves. The scenery is gorgeous and the whole area just seems so peaceful and tranquil. Walks are signposted with suggested routes and there are also designated walkways. If you visit in the Spring, look out for the daffodils. They along with the waterfall are said to have inspired many of Wordsworth's great works. If you have brought a picnic there are several picnic areas which are ideal to sit and grab a bite.
The facilities are very good, there is a decent sized car park and in high season there are information stewards based there who are able to offer advice on local events and places to visit. Parking charges are free for National Trust members, for non members they are £3.80 (2 hours); £4.80 (4 hours) or £5.80 (all day). There are toilets and a baby changing facility at the car park. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead at all times.
As mentioned, the waterfall is just 7 miles south of Penrith. If you are coming by car, approach the valley via Windermere and Bowness on the A591 and Ambleside for a scenic drive down the steep and windy Kirkstone Pass. Alternatively, access the valley from junction 40 of the M6, or from Keswick/Penrith on the A66. The waterfall can also be accessed from Ullswater via the Ullswater Steamer lake cruiser, which have stop offs at various points round the lake.
I wouldn't visit just to see the waterfall, if you are planning on visiting I would recommend going to Ullswater first and boarding a steamer to get there. There is a walk back into Ullswater which is approx 6 miles. This is a pretty easy walk which isn't too demanding.
Aira Force is a National Trust Site and is a waterfall in the Aira Beck river which feeds Ullswater lake. Aira Force is at Glenridding in the Lake District, Cumbria. Being a National Trust site there are good car parking facilities and also designated footpaths suggested routes and toilets. The trust has made many view points and walkways along the descent towards and away from Aira Force making enjoying the scenery just that bit easier. This combined with the old bridge made of stone that arches across the span of the main Aira Force Waterfalls, 70 feet in the air really does make for some breathtaking scenery.
The walk if deciding to go further than the falls in an upwards direction can be strenuous at times but also fairly tricky in places due to slippery paths and rocks as the walkways don't stretch this far. However the walk up from the main car park to the main series of waterfalls is fairly steep in places but all easily accessible with plenty of benches and resting points along the way.
The main car park itself is Pay and Display however you can park off of the road at several places nearby and easily find the falls a short walk across the fields. In the main car park there is usually an ice-cream van selling both brand name and traditional ice-cream, also the toilets are located here and are free for the general public to use.
I believe many of the trees and other surroundings were of Victorian origin when the land alongside the river was designed as one big garden and landscape. Whatever influence lies here it makes for great scenery and walking and thanks to the National Trust being on board offers good facilities to the many visitors who have made this one of the most popular spots in the Lake District.
I enjoy getting away form it all when ever I can and I usually head of to the Lake District for a bit of a breather... Whilst there I like to explore the many sights that the beautiful place has to offer as I seem to find something new each time I visit.
One of the many breathtaking experiences and most beautiful views is Aira Force, near Ullswater, with it's subtle, yet seemingly mesmerising waterfall.
* WHAT IS IT..?
Aira Force is a Waterfall with a great many tranquil walks surrounding the beautiful Fall.
It has been a beauty spot since 1906 and is now owned and run by the National Trust and offers some spectacular views surrounding the footpaths leading around Aira Beck and High Force Water.
* WHERE IS IT..?
It is found along the A592 on the Western side of Ullswater, (CA11 0JS for all you Sat.Nav. People). It is approximately 7 miles from Penrith and a pleasurable 13 mile drive from Windermere over the very scenic Kirkstone Pass.
* GETTING THERE...
By car... along A592
By bus... #108 from Penrith
Other ways are by hiking or cycling and for those people the OS reference is 90:NY401203 Aira Force.
The car park is a pay is a pay and display with many parking places, although these will quickly fill up in busy periods. National trust members park for free but must display cards.
An alternative car park is at Glencoyne Bay.
The actual spot is open all year round but the car park is locked over night.
* WHATS ON OFFER...
It offers many relaxing picnic spots throughout the area, although there is a café just off the car park as you approach, offering refreshments of all kind.
Toilets can be found at the beginning of the car park and are fully accessible.
Although Wheelchair users can not gain access to the 'fall', as the terrain will not allow it, there is access to Ullswater itself, but please be careful when crossing the main road, (although visibility is good along the road there are some 'idiots' who somehow gained a licence).
Dogs are allowed around the walks but it is advisable to keep them on a lead and as always, for the benefit of every one, please clear up any business you dog may leave behind...thank you (there's nothing worse than getting 'dog doings' in the tread of your trusted Regatta boots...)
The walks around Aira Force waterfall cover most of the 13,000 acres of land, including Fells and vast amount of woodlands, giving so much walking pleasure it is simply impossible to walk around in one day and appreciate the beauty of what it has to offer.
* THE EXPERIENCE...
From the car park you walk through the little archway at the far end and begin your ascent towards the falls along the snaked and rather rugged footpaths.
* The actual footpaths have been splendidly maintained by the National Trust and are mainly easy to walk along, although there are sections were slight difficulties may arise if you have a push chair.
As you walk through the peaceful woodlands, gradually ascending with every step, pausing to look over what looks like a bristling brook, visible in the valley below, listening to the birds whistling in the trees, you will feel a sense of relaxation.
*There are a few little viewing areas where you can stand and admire the scenery, taking you away from the path slightly so as to allow others to walk on by, but some of the views you get from these places are well worth taking in.
As you ascend further you come to many more lovely surprises and a vast amount of pathways forking off from the one you are on.
When you stumble upon a stone built bridge which crosses the waterfall take time out to have a look over the side at the cascading water thundering by beneath your feet, (*As the power of the water will vary due to rainfall on the fells for a more powerful scene I find the best time to go is in the autumn time and the various colours of the falling leaves do add to the beauty of the place).
From the bridge you can continue upwards, following the path of the river snaking down the hillside, or you can descend round the fall, heading to the bottom of the white foaming sprays of water, still enjoying the scenery as you go.
Looking up at the 'fall' is quite fascinating as you seem to become mesmerised at the force of nature pushing her way passed the solid rock face, thundering to the ground just a few metres from where you stand, feeling the water spraying in your face, the cold splash breaking the hypnotic state your mind may enter as you take in the view, (although it is no Victoria falls it is still a beautiful and very memorable sight to see).
From the base of the fall there are a set of steep steps to bring you back onto the main track, unless you take the longer way round which is a little gentler on the muscles.
As I stated earlier there are many places to stop and take in a well deserved rest bite, with many well positioned benches to take the weight off your tired legs... there is one place in particular which is half way along the track as you descend from the stone Bridge, it is a single bench situated just off the edge of the stream, with a lovely little wooden bridge allowing you access, although another footpath does come from behind the bench so other access is obviously from other places.
It is a splendid position to rest, have a picnic or simply let your kids run wild a little bit as there is adequate open space around the bench for them to enjoy them selves with out too much danger...( but do make the kids aware of the dangers of streams).. My two little cherubs enjoy the usual tossing stones in the water from the bridge or seeing whose stick goes under the bridge first, (although this game can lead to arguments and I have had to ban the stick game once or twice..??).
In all Aira Force is a beautiful place to spend the day and is well worth the drive along side the beautiful Ullswater to get there.
It is a place you can get lost in, (almost literally so take care) and you will want to visit over and over again, simply to try that path that you found the last time but didn't have the time to follow it.
Although some places can be a little dangerous looking the National Trust have done everything they can to keep the natural beauty of the place whilst making it safe for visitors like you and I... but with a little common sense accidents will be avoided.
1) The actual walks can be tricky and are defiantly not suitable for wheelchair and those with serious walking difficulties, even pushchairs will have difficulties in spots and it is advisable to keep a good control of children as some areas do have steep drops.
2) Although most paths lead around in a circle it is advisable to have a map of the area as there are so many different walks in several directions.
3) Do try and take a picnic, including drinks, as the on site café is rather over priced indeed, (as I discover much to my disbelief)...
But other than that simply take your time and enjoy the beauty of Aira Force and what it has to offer...
Aira Force is a beautiful waterfall located in the woodland near Ullswater.