Aira Force and Gowbarrow trail

Walking trail

THIS TRAIL WAS CREATED BEFORE THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS AND MAY NOT REFLECT THE CURRENT SITUATION. PLEASE CHECK THE AIRA FORCE HOMEPAGE FOR THE MOST UP TO DATE INFORMATION ABOUT VISITING. Experience Aira Force at its best as you head towards the thunderous roar of the waterfalls. Pass through woodland with lush green ferns and evergreen specimen conifers that tower over open glades. Then, emerge from the confines of the gorge to enjoy expansive views over Ullswater from the summit of Gowbarrow.

Aira Force waterfall


Route map for Aira Force and Gowbarrow


Aira Force National Trust car park, grid ref: NY400200


Take the waterfall path out of the top end of the car park, through the picnic field. Follow the path and head through a gateway in the wall into a grassy area known as the Glade.


Take the left hand path through the arboretum and follow the path up to a little wooden gate on your left (which has superb views out over Ullswater to the left). Don't go through the gate but follow the path to the right, drop down a long steep flight of steps to the viewing platform at the base of the waterfall. Continue over the bridge and climb the steep steps on the left.


At the top of the steps, bear left to the upper bridge for a view down Aira Force. Rejoin the main path and walk upstream keeping the river on your left as you go. Keep going till the path takes you through a gap in the wall and then through a gate onto open farmland.

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Before you get to the next gate in the wall ahead turn right up the field and take the permissive path to the fell gate. Keeping the wall on your left continue up the fellside on a good stone pitched path maintained by the Fix The Fells project, a good opportunity for a breather as you take in the views.


Once the path flattens out and bears away from the wall follow the path up to the trig point on the summit of Gowbarrow. From here you have fine views all round. Look south to Place Fell and Red Screes over to Kirkstone, with the bulk of Helvellyn beyond. Blencathra, Bannerdale and Carrock Fell can be seen to the north-west, with the Pennines to the north-east. Martindale and High Street are to the south-east.

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On leaving the summit, continue along the path keeping parallel with the wall on your left. Follow the path down, bearing right until you reach the ruin of an old shooting lodge. Keeping right, continue up and around the eastern flank of Gowbarrow.

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A good path takes you to the brow and down to an obvious cairn. Go over a fence stile to the superb vantage point up the head of the lake from the point marked on the map as Memorial Seat. Go back over the stile and bear left, staying on the path down towards the woodlands.


At the bottom of the slope you will see across the field a building known as Lyulph's Tower (private). It was built as a hunting lodge by the Howard family in the 18th century. It was designed to look like a grand castle from the lake - from the land it appears a little more modest. Just before the woodland take the left hand fork then through a gate to rejoin the footpath bearing left back to the Glade and car park.

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Aira Force National Trust car park, grid ref: NY400200

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Aira Force and Gowbarrow trail


The walk is on well-surfaced paths but beyond the Glade the path becomes narrower with steep drops and several flights of steps to negotiate. Once out onto the open fell, the path is clear but can be muddy in places and partially obscured by bracken. Dogs are welcome but on leads as area is grazed, please take your dog waste home.

Aira Force and Gowbarrow trail

Contact us

Call us on 017684 82067 or email us.

Aira Force and Gowbarrow trail

How to get here

Near Watermillock, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11
By train

Penrith station 10 miles (16km) away with a direct bus service



By road

From the M6 to the A66, then A592 Ullswater. Just before the junction with the A5091 is the car park. From Kewsick the A66 towards Penrith then the A5091 at Troutbeck and follow this to A592, turn left at bottom and car park is approx 218 yards (200m) on the left

By bus
108 Penrith to Patterdale bus (reduced winter service). 208 seasonal service from Keswick
By bicycle

National Cycle Network Route 71 passes within 2 miles (3.2km). The A592 is undulating, narrow and can be busy during the summer months

Aira Force and Gowbarrow trail

Facilities and access

  • None