Aira Force walk, view of Ullswater

Aira Force

Route: Aira Force and Ullswater

Area: Eastern Lake District

Date of walk: 31st October 2019

Walkers: Andrew

Distance: 4.5 miles

Ascent: 1,000 feet

Weather: Sunshine and blue skies

After yesterday’s strenuous walk up remote and mountainous Glaramara, I planned a gentler low level route today. As it turned out I found myself tackling a much harder obstacle than anything encountered yesterday, about which more later

It’s been some time since I last visited the Ullswater area, and I wanted to visit the woodland around Aira Force for some more autumn colour. My usual walk here is the classic Gowbarrow Fell circuit, but I’ve done that often and was looking for a new route. After joining up some dots on the OS map I came up with a circuit which would combine a walk in the woods, a visit to Aira Force, and views of Ullswater

As it was still half term, and Aira Force is a popular tourist attraction, I arrived early and was the first to park in the National Trust car park at High Cascades. After crossing the road and passing through a field I arrived at Aira Beck. I turned right here and followed the path through the woods, passing by several waterfalls, both large and small. I made a short detour to see the main fall – spectacular Aira Force, which falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge. I then left the woodland to join a path above Lyulph’s Tower. The path is clearly not used very often, but it’s easy enough to follow. The junction to the higher path is easily missed, and when I arrived at a deer gate I realised I’d gone too far and retraced my steps. Some rock steps, which were partially hidden by bracken, took me uphill towards the rockface of Yew Crag. It was here that I made a mistake and started up a steep gully, which appeared to be a continuation of the route. Once committed it was easier to continue than backtrack, but it was a very difficult ascent, and I had no idea what lay ahead. Hands were needed, and I’d describe it as a scramble, though more agile walkers may call it an enjoyable clamber. The OS map on the Maps Page shows where I went wrong. Eventually I emerged onto easier ground and made my way across to a stile just below the higher level return path

Just beyond the stile I joined the Ullswater Way near the location of the Memorial Seat. The views across Ullswater from here are wonderful, and can be enjoyed as the path, one of the finest in lakeland, is followed back into the Aira Force woodland. After retracing my steps for a short distance I followed a path on the other side of Aira Beck, crossing a wooden footbridge higher up. From here it was a short walk back to the car park. 

Click on the icon below for the route map (subscribers to OS Maps can view detailed maps of the route, visualise it in aerial 3D, and download the GPX file. Non-subscribers will see a base map)

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