Aira Force Falls & Park
Aira Force is one of The Lake District’s tallest waterfalls at 65 feet and it sits on Ullswater’s eastern shores. It is overlooked by the mountain of Gowbarrow and there is a nice circular walk from Aira Force up to Gowbarrow and back.
November houses the last throws of autumn and in case you hadn’t realised, The Lake District is prone to a bit of rain! We arrived at Ullswater when it looked like this. It was grey, wet, miserable and my camera took a bit of a rain hammering!
We’d had about 3cm of snow during the night, it had rained near constantly for two days and visibility was limited. It was also about 2 degrees c. Two of my kids were not overly keen on getting out of the car so we had to use the old ‘positive behavioural reinforcement’ AKA bribing them with lunch at one of the local hotels to even start. Terrible parenting but it worked and we were all happy lol.
Driving from Pooley Bridge
Aira Force is owned and managed by The National Trust and it’s easy to see the large signs and car park on the right hand side as you drive past. If you’re not a member of The National Trust before coming to Cumbria, I strongly recommend that you become one. As a member you’re entitled to free car parking and up here, it’ll save you a fair bit of cash if you display your membership.
The car parking fees for Aira Force are £5 which is great if you’re spending a significant amount of time there but for just a fleeting visit is quite expensive.
Aside from the falls, there’s a newly constructed pier and a load of walks, as well as the car parks, a gift shop-cum-kiosk, a picnic area and the tearooms. There is enough to keep you going for a few hours. If you’re hoping to arrive on the Ullswater Steamer, please check the timetables as they operate different times in the summer to winter.
Despite the weather, the falls were quite busy. There were at least another 25 cars in the car park. I am told that in summer it is a very busy attraction.
Upon entering the park there is a small stream to your left as well as the larger Aira Beck to your right. It’s small enough for kids to jump over and it makes a great start to the walk.
It’s worth popping into the kiosk shop for a map before you start walking as there’s a number of pathways that will lead you to the falls but also some that will lead you up and out of the Aira Force park towards Gowbarrow.
Some pathways are steeper than others although nothing too sinister and certainly very tame in comparison The Lakes.
If you take the higher pathways you will be afforded the most wonderful views of both GowBarrow and Ullswater.
Around the easier pathways, The national trust has made a learning trail so you can learn some of the names of the plants and trees that grow there.
The main force falls 65 feet. Above the waterfall there is a stone footbridge that can be crossed and you can stand above the falls. The noise is almost deafening but the view of all that water hurtling down the mountainside is amazing.
At the bottom of the falls there is another bridge straddling Aira Beck.
Wildlife is abundant, despite the constant flow of people, and you have the chance to see red squirrels, great spotted woodpecker and summer migrants such as the pied flycatcher, pied redstart and fast flowing upland river birds such as the grey wagtail and the dipper.
Visiting High Force
If Aira Force is a bit tame and touristy for you, you might want to consider a visit to the High Force Falls which are due north of Aira Falls. Blog coming soon.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Sigma 24-70mm