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Aira Force & Gowbarrow Park

The Lake District's finest waterfall


Many different people have lived in the area currently known as The Lake District. The  various Norse speaking settlers left us a rich geographical vocabulary to enjoy. ‘ Fors ‘, which in modern English, we know as ‘ Force ‘, means ‘ Waterfall ‘. ‘ Aira ‘ is two Norse words morphed into one. ‘ Eyrr ‘, meaning ‘ Gravelly spit of land ‘, and ‘ à ‘ meaning river. Aira Force to the Norse speakers was ‘ The waterfall on the river by the gravelly spit ‘. For those who arrive by Steamer, you’ll see that the description from a thousand years ago is still accurate.

a large waterfall over a river

Red Squirrels

Aira Force is one of the many places around Ullswater that red squirrels frequent. Along the path to the waterfall there are feeders laid out for them to help themselves. The best chance to see them ? Early morning in Autumn. Fewer people about and not so much foliage on the trees. As with any wild animal though, no guarantees.

A squirrel on a tree

Gowbarrow Fell

A walk with very good views of Ullswater is the saunter up to Gowbarrow Fell. It’s a circular route that will bring you right back down to Aira Force. Depending on experience, fitness and the weather, allowing 2 or 3 hours for the hike is a reasonable estimate. Certain stretches can be a bit damp. There are a few walks around Ullswater where walking shoes are fine. Here it might be worth a decent pair of walking boots.

View of Ullswater from Gowbarrow Fell

Just a cautionary word on parking. Aira Force is a nice place, easily accessible and can sometimes become busy on sunny weekends through the summer. Maybe visit on a nice day in the Autumn for more of a chance to see the red squirrels. Another transport option is to arrive by Ullswater Steamer. The jetty is just a few minutes walk away from the entrance. Facilities at this National Trust park include a cafe, water taps to refill water bottles, and a mobility toilet.

Driving time to Tall Bloke Adventures ? 5 minutes