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Walking to Gowbarrow Fell overlooking Ullswater
Overlooking Aira Force
Another Place, The Lake
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GOWBARROW FELL

Gowbarrow is a fell that many people never take the time to climb, and that’s a shame – it’s not too tough, it has super views over Ullswater, and it can be combined with a visit to one of the Lake District’s most scenic (and best-known) waterfalls – Aira Force. The walk can be boggy and muddy when the weather’s wet, however, and if you’re not an experienced walker, trail-finding can be tricky if it’s cloudy or misty – so it’s best to leave this one for a bright, clear day.

Family walks

Distance: 4.2 miles

Duration: 2 hours

Ascent: 160m (524ft)

It’s only a short five-minute drive to Aira Force from Another Place. The waterfall (and the car-park) is owned by the National Trust, so it’s well worth being an NT member as you qualify for free parking (the parking charges are very steep otherwise).

Once you’ve parked, it’s a straightforward walk up to the waterfall along a well-maintained path. It’s a lovely sight, a 70ft tumble of white water framed by dark rock walls and overhanging trees; the best view for picture-taking is from the old stone footbridge. It’s especially strong after a few days of heavy rain (not uncommon in the Lakes!)

Once you’ve seen the waterfall, continue up the path along the right-hand side of the waterfall, keeping the beck on your left. This leads up to a second waterfall, High Force, and then continues out past the trees into the open countryside of Gowbarrow Park.

The path leads along the edge of an old drystone wall; follow this until you reach a gate leading off uphill to the right (signed to Gowbarrow). This is the steepest section of the walk, a real thigh-burner. Stone steps have been built into the steepest parts, but even these can be slick and slippery when they’re wet, so take care.

View from the walking trail over Ullswater
Walkers on Aira Force bridge

Eventually, once the path starts to level out, take a well-earned breather and enjoy the views, before continuing onwards to the trig point which marks the summit of Gowbarrow Fell (481m). This is a good spot for lunch: you can look southeast across the lake towards Martindale and High Street, south towards Place Fell, and north all the way to Blencathra.

The next stage is the only part of the walk where it’s possible to get lost, as another path heads east across Swinburn’s Park; an OS map comes in handy.

Leaving the summit and heading east, the important thing to remember is to follow the drystone wall as it bears south. After a while you’ll reach the ruins of an old shooting lodge. Here the path leaves the wall and bears south; follow it all the way to a viewpoint known as the Memorial Seat, where there are more spectacular vantages on offer over Ullswater. Then bear west and head downhill, remaining on the steep path until it enters a little woodland, which rejoins the path back to the Aira Force car-park.

Oliver Berry is a writer, photographer and filmmaker, specialising in travel, nature and the great outdoors. He has travelled to more than seventy countries and five continents, and his work has been published by some of the world’s leading media organisations, including Lonely Planet, the BBC, Immediate Media, John Brown Media, The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is also the author of Lonely Planet’s guide to the Lake District. You can follow his latest adventures at www.oliverberry.com.