Where is this walk?

Gowbarrow via Aira Force

May 9, 2019

The climb of Gowbarrow via Aira Force is highly enjoyable. Not only do you visit a popular waterfall but the views from Gowbarrow along Ullswater are some of the best in the Lake District.

The Walk

1425′. In the past I had always resented paying the pricey car parking fees to climb Gowbarrow via Aira Force and there was nowhere nearby to park. Therefore I had never visited Aira Force. I had always climbed Gowbarrow from near Dockray. However there is no doubt the Aira Force route is much better.

The woods of Aira Force were planted in the 1780’s by the Howard family as a landscaped playground themed around the 70 ft 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. The route runs parallel to the river for half a mile before turning east, alongside a wall heading direct to the summit. From here the real joy of the walk is realised. Head south along the wide ridge. The views are fantastic, particularly impressive looking up and down the length of Ullswater. The Victorians loved this view but it is less popular now. The Victorians often knew more than us!  


100 metres 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 spots in the country. The views are picture perfect.

Navigation Tips on Gowbarrow

To reach the slopes of Gowbarrow from Aira Force continue up the river to a small footbridge. Cross and join the public right of way heading north on its lower slopes. Keep the river close by on your left until short of Dockray and turn right to climb the slopes.

  • Helen Houlsworth says:

    Where there any sheep on your walk?
    I’m taking my dog and I’d like to let him off the lead

    • Jonathan says:

      Pretty much every walk may have sheep in a field. it changes. You just have to wait and see and keep them on a lead until you know.

  • Dug says:

    Did a slightly bigger route round here Monday 25 March
    wow sunshine and fantastic views from the top well worth the climb
    well worth paying the car park fee for this walk if more than one of you, £7 was a bit expensive

  • 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.

  • 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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