Walking to Gowbarrow Fell overlooking Ullswater
Overlooking Aira Force
Another Place, The Lake
Tree stump along one of the hiking routes in Gowbarrow fell


Follow the path to Aira Force waterfalls from Gowbarrow fell and take in some of the best Lake District landscape. Pass Lyluph’s pele tower and uncover the inspiration for many characters in the novel Tarzan.

Walk overview

Total distance: 4.2 miles

Time: 2 hours

Description: Combine some of the best landscape in the Lake District with the most scenic waterfalls – Aira Force. If you’re not an experienced walker, trail finding can be tricky so best to leave this one for a bright day.  Dogs are welcome but we ask they are kept on a lead due to the red squirrels and sheep.

Difficulty: Medium

Directions: A short 6 minute drive (approx) from the hotel to the Aira Force National Trust car park on the A592, postcode CA11 0JS

What to bring: Good sturdy walking shoes, drink and snacks. Sun cream, a hat, a camera.

Elevation: 1004ft

Waterfalls and panoramic views

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.

View from the walking trail over Ullswater


  • 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.
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.

Walking in the Lake District comes with risk and conditions change quickly. We would always recommend checking the weather forecast, wearing suitable clothes and choosing a walk for your ability. We would also recommend taking an OS map and compass and know how to use them. The hotel takes no responsibility for any injury, loss or damages that may occur when following the directions.

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.

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