Visiting Aira Force: What you need to know

A view from Gowbarrow over Ullswater

The car parks, woodland walks and tea room are open. In this article you’ll find everything you need to know about what's open and what to expect from your visit.

Parking and arrival

We have four pay and display car parks in the Ullswater valley: Aira Force, Park Brow, High Cascades and Glencoyne Bay. Check out our Car Park Information for Aira Force and Ullswater for top tips on which car parks to visit and when. 

Avoid peak times - Aira Force is hugely popular, welcoming around 300,000 visitors every year, which is why during our peak times (bank holidays, school holidays and sunny weekends) it can get busy in our car parks, with most filling up by around 10am. 

We recommend beating the crowds by arriving early in the morning or later in the evening. Not only will you be more likely to get a space, but the walking trails are quieter and there is more chance of seeing some wildlife on your walk, as the birds and red squirrels are usually more active.

Things to do 

There are a several walks, of varying length, available at Aira Force. Sturdy footwear and waterproofs are advised. Dogs are welcome but we ask that they are kept on a lead as we have red squirrels and sheep. 

The waterfall trails range from 0.5 miles to 2 miles. For something a little longer, you can follow our low-level footpath to Glencoyne Bay (1.5 miles each way) or Glenridding (3 miles each way). If you want more of a challenge, why not climb Gowbarrow Fell? A 4-mile round trip, with 320m height gain, that offers panoramic views of the valley (walking boots recommended.) 

There is a large map on display by the Welcome Building that we recommend taking a photo of before you set off on the trail. Or why not print off and bring your own map?

Take a look at our Great Walks in Ullswater page for more details on walks in the valley.

For families

We have lots of activity sheets for kids (young and old) available at Aira Force and Ullswater, speak to a member of the team during your visit to see what is available.

Our little natural play area just beyond the car park, next to the picnic field, is a great place for kids to make their own fun while you enjoy a relaxing bite to eat. They can test their balance on fallen trees, leap from log to log and have a go at climbing. 

Walkways Project 

The Aira Force Walkways Project is replacing an existing viewing area at the bottom of the waterfall and a section of footpath, which is currently unstable and unsuitable for long-term use, with a dramatic steel platform, cantilevered out over the river gorge, to provide inspiring views of the river and waterfall.

The work will take place March – October, with the new sections of footpath open to the public this autumn. Some sections of footpath will be closed during the duration of the work to ensure the safety of our visitors and that the contractors can work as efficiently as possible. 

You can find out more about the project here.

Facilities

Toilets - We have a small toilet block situated in the main Aira Force car park (including an accessible toilet). The toilets are locked overnight and will be closed periodically during the day for enhanced cleaning. The next closest public toilets are situated in Glenridding village (3 miles south on the A592.)

Food and drink - The Tea-room on site is open to take away and with outdoor seating, serving hot and cold drinks, home bakes, sandwiches, hot pasties and ice creams. Please check opening times before you visit. Picnics are also very welcome.

Litter - We have waste and recycling bins located in the main Aira Force car park. There are no bins on the waterfall trails. Over the last year we have seen a significant increase in the amount of litter being collected by our team in the valley. We ask that every person does their bit by ensuring rubbish is placed in the bin, or why not go the extra mile to help our team out by taking your litter home with you. 

Accessibility

There are designated disabled parking spaces at the main Aira Force car park. There is one mobility toilet adjacent to main Aira Force car park entrance. Much of Aira Force and the countryside is steep and rugged, the waterfall is not accessible by wheelchair.

Staying safe

If you’re showing any of the symptoms of coronavirus, or if you've been in contact with anyone that has the virus in the last 14 days, please don’t visit. And look out for signs while you’re here which will explain any changes to how you can access different parts of the site