Gowbarrow via Aira Force

  • Explore the lovely woods of Aira Force
  • Great views of Ullswater
  • A fell of great character and interest

1425′. In the past I had always resented paying the car parking fees to climb Gowbarrow via Aira Force and had scuttled up from the parking near Dockray but last week I put my hand in my pocket and ‘discovered’ Aira Force. It is without a shadow of a doubt the finest way to climb Gowbarrow (which I have always enjoyed anyway) and would now recommend it to anyone. The woods of Aira Force were planted in the 1780’s by the Howard family as a landscaped playground themed around the 70 foot main waterfall.

Walking past the falls soon brought me on to the open, heather clad, fell side of Gowbarrow and a steep climb along the wall to its summit. Much of the joy of Gowbarrow is missed on this climb because it tends to wend its way on the lower ground between the mounds and rocky outcrops which so characterise the fell. However following the higher ground towards the lake after achieving the summit does offer a full appreciation of the fell and in particular the superb view both up and down Ullswater. The Victorians loved this spot but it is not now as popular partly at least because access to the fell is not that straightforward.  This is National Trust land and they do a fine job but the car parking charges……

Recommend: 300 foot south west from the terminus of the high ground to the south of the actual summit lies a pile of boulders which offer one of the finest picnic spot in the Lake District. The views are picture perfect.

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Gowbarrow & aira force map


All maps are copyright of Where2Walk ©2018

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL5 The English Lakes North East. Buy Map
Start Point: NY 401201. There is no alternative to the NT car park at the foot of Aira Force.
Height to Climb: 318ms (103 feet)
Terrain: The paths on Gowbarrow are perfect green lawns. Lovely.
Eating & Drinking: There is a small tea shop in the National Trust car park which can be very welcome!
Similar Walks Nearby: Place Fell from Patterdale
A fidtful of Dodds
St Sunday Crag from Patterdale
Places to Stay: Brackenrigg Inn, UllswaterTroutbeck Camping & Caravanning


  1. Steve Griggs says:

    Great little walk for an arrival day when you don’t have time for a full days walking. There wasn’t a huge amount of water coming over the falls as it has been very dry for a while but they were still spectacular. They must be awesome when there has been some rain.
    We made the mistake of leaving the path at 400213 and following the wall around. Although there are some paths/sheep tracks around we found ourselves battling 8 foot high bracken. Much better to stay on the main path up to the wall at 399216 where there is a path on your right (not marked on OS maps) that takes you onto the hill.
    Couldn’t bring myself to pay the hefty £7 NT parking charge but found a good parking area about 700 meters east of the NT entrance.

  2. Chris Dixon says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’m not sure we found the path to the top, certainly it was not all that “easy”, however we made it! There was plenty of boggy walking, but the views were worth it. The falls are beautiful, and as national trust members we avoided the car parking charges. A good family walk, but don’t get lost once you leave the footpath and make sure the kids are up for a steep climb!

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