Lake District Waterfalls: Aira Force

One of the most well known waterfalls in the Lake District, this beautiful, straightforward walk gives big rewards for little effort. Here’s how we did it.

Lake District Waterfalls

While the Lake District is most famous for its, well, lakes, along with it’s mountains, there are also a number of waterfalls that are worth exploring.

Waterfalls are often a great choice for a walk with children, because you don’t always have to walk very far or very high to reach something impressive. And not to state too obvious a point, but waterfalls mean water, which often means a space for great play for children (and adults too!).

Aira Force

We’ve visited Aira Force twice now, once first thing in the morning and once in the late afternoon. We absolutely love the ease of it – the parking, the toilets(!) and the tearoom at the end of it.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting the most out of your visit to Aira Force.

What You Will Need

  • Sturdy shoes: walking boots, wellies or sturdy trainers
  • Sensible clothes for the weather (as always).
  • A change of clothes for back at the car
  • Snacks: optional! There are picnic spots but also a cafe so take your pick.

How to get to Aira Force

You can access Aira Force from the A592 which runs along the edge of Ullswater, or from the M6 and then the A66.

Aira Force Parking

Aira Force Car Park. The car park (and the whole area) is run by the National Trust. This means that members park free all day. We make our money back at least ten times over across each year so I would highly recommend membership if you’re planning getting out and about.

Non members pay £6 for 2 hours, £7.50 for 4 hours, and £9 all day.

1. The start of the walk is next to the National Trust building, and it is well signed. The slope is gentle at this part, on a path through the fields towards the trees. Follow this path.

2. Continue to follow the path. You will come to an open space where the path splits. This is a great place for running around and letting off some steam! Then you can head right, down to the river straight away, or left where the path leads up to the higher part of Aira Force.

3. We chose the path that took us up the hill. This means you get a bit closer to the really powerful bit of waterfall action which we love.

4. The path is well signed, and starts to get steeper as it goes on.

5. Keep following the path. This one goes up and up, and the noise of the water gets louder and louder!

6. Remember to keep looking up and around, there are plenty of beautiful views to be appreciated. We spotted Ullswater between the trees, and the Lake District fells in the distance.

7. Keep following the path as it goes up. Here the noise of the waterfall is so loud! Through the trees you can see glimpses of the river as it flows down towards Ullswater.

8. The top! At some point, whichever path you chose at the bottom can lead here, to the beautiful stone bridge that crosses the waterfall. From the bridge you can see the force of the water, with the spray and the noise it creates.

(I’ll have to get pictures on my next visit to Aira Force – this time there were two men who stripped off and jumped in at the bottom when we were there – and this is a family website!!)

You can actually continue with the walk up the waterfalls following the signs to High Cascades, but we have found that going as high as the stone bridge has been a perfect little explore for us.

9. After crossing the stone bridge, follow the path as it leads down the other side of the waterfall. The path is really easy to follow and will eventually lead down to a wooden bridge. Here you will find plenty of space for stone throwing and playing on the rocks – we spend ages at this spot!

10. Once you have crossed the wooden bridge, you come to the big open space you were at near the start of the walk. Follow the path back down towards the car park. Look out for the sign for the tea room, where I can highly recommend the caramel shortbread.

11. Once you’ve loaded up on treats (highly recommended), its time to head back to the car, and plan your next Lake District adventure. Enjoy!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also want to read Tarn Hows Circular Walk.

About the author

I'm Michelle, Lake District resident and founder of this site. You can mostly find me up a hill, on a lake, or enjoying a hot chocolate by the fire. Feel free to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!

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