Gowbarrow Fell and Aira Force
ONE Wainwright walk: Gowbarrow Fell
Walk Rating:⭐⭐ (although Aira Force itself merits a higher rating!)
Time: 2 - 3 hours (depending on the time taken at the waterfalls)
Parking: Either at the High Cascades Car Park (Grid Ref: NY 397211) or on the roadside at Ulcat Row (free but very limited space). Alternatively, why not arrive at the bottom of the falls by bus or Ullswater Steamer?
|Gowbarrow Fell from High Row|
Gowbarrow Fell is not a particularly memorable fell. Its peak only gives an obscured view of Ullswater and, while further exploration on the fell would find a better viewpoint at Green Hill, when the weather is fine, time might be better spent elsewhere. However, the fell is situated above the beautiful valley of the Aira Beck and its spectacular waterfalls. So, unusually for a 'Wainwright walk', I would advise spending less time on the fell and more in the valley below!
The walk could be started at the National Trust's High Cascades Car Park, although, in high season, you will be competing for spaces with many other visitors to Aira Force. Alternatively, a far less frequented start to the walk can be made from the few houses of Ulcat Row, on the minor road tucked under the north slopes of Gowbarrow Fell.
|Strava estimates a walk of around 9km in total from Ulcat Row, including the full length of the valley|
1. From whatever direction you start from, the feature to look for in the landscape around you is a long wall heading vertically up the western flank of Gowbarrow Fell. The path climbing to the summit goes up the fell to the right of this wall.
|The route up the fell is to the side of a long wall|
|The gate from the High Cascades Car Park|
|Ascending Gowbarrow Fell|
|The triangulation column at the top of the fell|
|Descending on the path alongside the wall|
6. Once you have descended the hill, take the path left to the wooded area of the valley below. There you can visit both the high cascades, higher up the valley, and, below, the main waterfall of Aira Force, where the water tumbles over 20 metres down a rocky cleft before returning to your starting point.
|The High Cascades|
7. The 'Waterfall Bridge' allows you to look down Aira Force from above and a new viewing platform is being constructed (see 'Worth Knowing") to see it from below.