Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell.

Start. Aira Force car park.

Route. Aira Force car park - Aira Force - Gowbarrow Fell - Shooting Lodge (ruin) - Collier Hagg - Hind Crag - Aira Force car park.

Notes. Although modest in height Gowbarrow Fell is a captivating place, abundant in rocky knolls and heather clad hummocks, good paths and narrow ways which give admirable views over Ullswater. Owned by the National Trust since 1906, the area is best known for Aira Force a series of waterfalls that cascade through a deep gorge carved out by Aira Beck. Thousands of visitors every year come to admire the spectacle, but don't let that put you off, very few venture any further than the falls, the odd ones that do are soon swallowed up by the fell.

This walk was on the cards the other day but deep snow put paid to my plans, today I drove over Kirkstone Pass in pea soup, I could hardly see the car in front and he couldn't see the road at all, twice he turned right instead of left and I followed him, we rolled into the car park at Aira Force together and immediately compared notes, I hadn't realised he'd actually scraped the wall at one point.

After donning our boots we went our separate ways, my way followed good paths with lots of slate steps up the south bank of the beck, I visited the main waterfall while it was quiet, then continued up stream. The beck is well spectacular further up, another splendid waterfall stopped me in my tracks. When I pulled myself away it was to cross a bridge above the fall then continue up stream.The path eased away from the beck before leaving the tree cover, it traversed rough sheep pasture, at the far side of the field a finger-post invited me to Gowbarrow Fell. The path looked steep, muddy and still under construction, never the less it safely guided me to the summit.

Wind ripped across the fell top, I could hardly stand up but watched in awe as the high mountains at the head of the valley ripped the cloud base to piece's, allowing the odd glimpse of blue sky and sunlight to cut through. Once I'd had my fill of being blown around I followed the main trod north-east, this is a lovely path, it guided me onto the southern slopes of the hill overlooking Ullswater. Once under Green Hill it slowly descended, passing under Bernard Pike and Hind Crag before re-joining the crowds at Aira Force.

view route map.


A moody sky over Ullswater.

Aira Force, after cutting through a spectacular gorge Aira Beck takes a 65ft plunge into calmer waters, easy access makes this the most visited waterfall in the Lakes.

Further up stream High Force.

Above High Force looking to grey cloud kissed Place Fell.

Clear of the tree cover, I'm gifted with superb views over the Ullswater valley.

In rough sheep pastures above Aira Beck, viewing Parkgate Farm backed by Bracken How and Round How.

Looking towards Matterdale from the steep slopes of Gowbarrow Fell.

A little more height gained and the Blencathra massif tilts into view.

Nearing the summit of Gowbarrow Fell looking to the head of Ullswater.

Views taken from the summit of Gowbarrow Fell, Watermillock Common, Stybarrow Dodd and Watson's Dodd.

Looking over the hummocks on Gowbarrow Fell to Hallin Fell with Loadpot Hill across the horizon.

Under cloud the Blencathra massif.

It's time to leave the summit before I get blown from it, the view Great Mell Fell rising from Matterdale.

Little Mell Fell with Great Meldrum to the right.

Clinging to a reassuring path.

Adventures through an extraordinary landscape.

Wonderful shining levels, from front to back, the Sleet Fell slopes of Place Fell, Steel Knotts and Wether Hill.

Above Yew Crag drinking in this wonderful view over Ullswater, under cloud Place Fell.

There's a memorial seat on the 1065ft contour, etched on it, "A thank-offering Oct 1905" , this is the view it gifts you, what a place to be remembered, and what a view to be thankful for.

I'm about to disappear into the tree cover, a final view, Place Fell over Ullswater.

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