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Improving the walkways at Aira Force

Bridge over Aira Force waterfall, Ullswater, Lake District, Cumbria
The bridge over Aira Force waterfall, Ullswater, Lake District, Cumbria | © National Trust Images / John Malley

In March 2021 we began a project to enhance the walkways at Aira Force. We’re hoping to thrill visitors by replacing an existing viewing area and footpath, 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 £189,000 project is being part funded by a grant from The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The remaining amount, about 45%, will be covered by funds gifted through legacy donations and fundraising.

What’s the plan?

We are working with two local contractors, Lewis Conservation and Roland Hill, who will install steel gantry walkways and viewing platforms to replace the existing ones in two areas. The first area is an unstable section of footpath on the east side of Aira Beck, the second is focused on the lower viewing platform at the base of Aira Force falls which suffers from standing water, crumbling mortar and icing in the winter.  

Over the last few years we have made several attempts to stabilise this section of footpath but due to the slope and the underlying bed rock it has been difficult to get the posts in sufficiently to be able to hold the path in place. We’re excited about this project, it’s an innovative solution to a persistent problem, it will recreate the drama that Victorian thrill-seekers sought out here many years ago.

This approach will provide sustainable support to the banks which are heavily eroded. The materials are designed to increase the footpath’s safety and accessibility, including in the winter months. 

Some sections of footpath will be closed during the duration of the work to ensure the safety of local visitors enjoying their daily exercise during lockdown. A one-way system around the waterfall trails will ensure the site remains easy to navigate.

Keep checking back below for regular updates from the project team, we're looking forward to sharing this exciting project with you as each stage unfolds.

Walkways project timeline


The viewing platform is now open!

With reinstatement works complete the new viewing platform is now open! We are so pleased that people will finally be able to enjoy the iconic view from the base of the falls again.

The new platform allows more space to linger and admire the view, as well as thrilling glimpses downwards into the gorge through the perforated metal structure. What’s more, the new walkways and viewing platform are slip-resistant and free draining, increasing safety and accessibility, including in the winter months leaving visitors free to feel the full force of the falls without the worry.  

The recently opened viewing platform at Aira Force
The new viewing platform is a wonderful place to view the fall and get a selfie or two | © National Trust Images / Joe Ball

Our partners

European Agricultural Fund for Regional Development

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. Funding to assist in creating a steel waterfall platform and walkway with viewing station.

Visit website 


Aira Force site map 

A map of Aira Force with walking trails

A forest with mossy rocks dotted about and autumn leaves on the ground

Exploring Aira Force and Gowbarrow Park 

Get a glimpse of what Aira Force and Ullswater have to offer, including walks with far-reaching views, red squirrels, picnic spots, a natural play area and water sports.