8th November 2014

Aira Force (twice) and Gowbarrow Fell


Walk Overview
Time 8am to 1:40pm
Duration 5 hr 40 min
Distance 9.2 mile
Ascent 2100 ft
Walking with Paul Sharkey
Parkgate Brow - High Force - Aira Force - Gowbarrow Fell - Great Meldrum - Little Meldrum - The Hause - Little Mell Fell - The Hause - below Priest's Crag - Swinburn's Park - Shooting Lodge - Memorial Seat - Aira Force - High Force - Parkgate Brow
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Aira Force, Parkgate Farm

This is what I always call the top Aira Force car park and for no particular reason this is the one I prefer to set out from. This is the car park where you're most likely to get a parking space during the busier times of year.

Parking is free.


Route Map


Idle today, , , , ,
, , , , but seems to have been busy recently.

Just across the field from the car park we reached the first of today's waterfalls. If you look carefully you can see the new bridge over the beck, but, rather than cross over here and head up to Gowbarrow Fell, we decided to walk down to Aira Force while it was quiet.

We didn't spot it now, but as we walked back up here later we saw a dead sheep in among the debris on the left.

Downstream we walk and before too long we see the higher of the bridges at Aira Force.

Squirrel information centre.


It's not very far at all from the top bridge down to the bottom of the waterfalls. What you do need to do is pay attention to your feet. The walk down the steps is very slippery when it's been raining; heck of a view though.

You've probably seen this a million times already, but here's another picture of the classic view of Aira Force.

The lower bridge.

A close up of the top of the falls.


As magical as it was around Aira Force, we couldn't spend all day looking at the woodland and the waterfalls. We needed to continue with our walk before the forecasted rain turned up. After all, it was only because of the forecast that we came here today at all. Rain was forecast to move across the district from south west to north east, so it made sense to walk in the last place the rain was due to arrive.
Here, you have a picture looking down to Ullswater from the fellside some distance above the falls.

Height is gained on Gowbarrow Fell and as we all know, along with height come the extensive views. From here we look across to the fells above Dockray / High Row / Dowthwaitehead.

Gowbarrow Fell summit.

Cloud drama over the Martindale area.

A close up of Sandwick as it catches a brief splash of sunshine.

Ah, , , , I didn't expect to be walking in any sunshine today. So, as seen as though it was good enough to put in an appearance, it seemed rude not to take a photo. O yes, that's Gowbarrow Fell over there.


It's a bit wet under foot around this area but a slight detour from the wall saw us arrive at the fence 'almost' dry shod.

Okay, how can I best advise you to navigate across this section of the walk. Err, if you bump into the wall you've wandered too far to your left. If you get poked in the face by a tree branch you've wandered too far to your right. It doesn't need to be anymore technical than that.

There wasn't much chance of the woodland catching fire today, but if it had, these beaters would prove useful in trying to stop it spreading.

That's Great Mell Fell over there but that's not on the agenda today. Instead, we've having a quick walk up and down Little Mell Fell. First of all we need to get to The Hause which, despite its pronunciation, has nothing at all to do with watering the garden or ladies with low morals.

A bit of brightness moves it's way across the countryside on our side of Ullswater.

Little Mell Fell summit.

After a short walk down the road from The Hause we turn off to the right and head into Swinburn's Park.

Swinburn's Park isn't exactly hidden, it's not really difficult to get to and it has a good route all the way through it. Yet, it feels like a world away from anything you'd normally call Lake District walking. Anyone wanting to try something just a little bit different would do well to give this little route a try. As strange as it may seem, I've always enjoyed walking through here on damp autumn days much more than the blue sky and sunshine of summer.



Here we are at the ruins of the Shooting Lodge. Unfortunately it's pretty clear that the rain will shortly catch up with us and the waterproofs need to earn their keep. Never mind; a bit of rain on the last bit of the walk isn't going to spoil anything.

Looking over Ullswater to Hallin Fell Steel Knotts and the cloud topped Loadpot Hill fells.

From the Shooting Lodge you follow a really nice terrace like path around the side of Gowbarrow Fell. All the way you're treated to views down to Ullswater and across to the fells beyond.

Yew Crag seems to be attracting plenty of visitors today. Directly behind the cairn is Sandwick and to the left of it is Hallin Fell.

A corner is turned by the Memorial Seat and we switch from walking north to south, to walking east to west. Now, the view allows us to look up the lake in the direction of Glenridding.

Autumn can show itself in many different ways on the fells. The two most distinctive are the blue sky and sunshine days when the colours really stand out and you can't help but admire the beauty of the season and the other, in my opinion would be a day like this. Changeable conditions with cloud hanging low on the hills, rain coming & going, every beck and stream running full and mud up to your knees. These are the days when you get back home and think yes, I did the right thing getting out and taking a chance with the weather.

For the second time today we visited Aira Force and just as predicted, the places was much busier on this visit. These are the waterfalls seen from above.
Right, now I need to think of a way to stop half the mud and crap currently on my trousers ending up all over Jennifer new car seats. I know, I'll put my jacket on the seat and then sit on that.
- - - - - - back at home - - - - - -
"I've got good news and I've got bad news."
"what's the good news"
"you don't need to wash the car seats"
"okay, , , what's the bad news"
"this is my jacket"


David Hall -
Lake District Walks