Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell
I felt I’d explored Grasmere enough for the time being, and chose to head back to Ullswater and see it in the summer. A friend had recommended Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell as a possibility, so I decided to check it out!
It was a glorious July day, which of course meant lots of people! Aira force is definitely popular with families, but it was lovely to see them enjoying picnics by the water and skipping stones. The bus stops right outside the café which makes it easy to find your way to the waterfall.
Following the river up the side of the valley, I came to the first of two bridges from which you can get some great shots of the waterfall. The sound is amazing and, despite the number of people out that day, it felt wonderfully secluded.
Crossing the bridge, and carrying on up the right-hand side of the river, you eventually come to High Force. This waterfall is much wider – and louder- than aira force and there were lots of people enjoying paddling in the calmer waters where the slope plateaued. I remember one guy in particular, as he manoeuvred himself into awkward positions along the very edge of the waterfall to capture the best picture. I would love to have seen those images!
Continuing along the riverside, the path eventually veers to the right, taking you into meadow. It was beautiful to come from the shaded, damp smell of the forest into brilliant sunshine with amazing views. From here begins the noticeable climb up Gowbarrow fell.
After wandering through the ferns, I came to a wall with an arrow pointing towards Gowbarrow Hill – so I followed the wall up. The path becomes clearer as you ascend and heather takes centre stage. It’s a reasonably steep climb, which is well made up for in the views!
Upon reaching the summit, I could see all the way to the Helvellyn and Blencathra ranges as well as the Pennines and flat plains of Yorkshire. It’s an incredible view for a fell which is only 481m high.
The descent was interesting. It is fairly steep but I decided to jog back down regardless. This, however, proved to be difficult in parts. Areas along the path are easily only the width of your foot with a sheer drop below and there were moments when I had to be particularly careful in my footing. Yet, the majority of the path is accessible and I found it easy to descend – and quickly as it was nearing the time of the last bus!
I still had chance to snap pictures along the way. Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell is a circular route, and the descent took me around the edge of Ullswater. I genuinely felt like I’d hit gold. The views are incredible and I had the perfect day for photographs.
The path takes you along to reach another summit: Green Hill, from which the whole of Ullswater opens out before you, before descending back into the wood and Aira Force – just in time for the bus.