Exploring Aira Force and Gowbarrow Park
Discover a place full of adventure and make special memories at Aira Force. From splashing through streams and walking through towering trees in the woods to spotting a red squirrel, Aira Force has got the lot. Here are some of the most popular things to see and do.
Avoid the crowds
Our busiest times at Aira Force are between 11am and 3pm. Our car parks can fill up fast at these times and spaces can be limited. For the best chance of finding a parking space, we recommend arriving outside of our peak times.
Arrive by boat to Aira Force and Gowbarrow Park
You can start your day in Glenridding and arrive by boat, taking in the sights of Ullswater valley along the way, then stroll back to Glenridding through Glencoyne Park and along the lakeshore. Please book with Ullswater Steamers directly on their website.
Finding your way around
There are a several walks, of varying length, available at Aira Force. The waterfall trails range from 0.5 miles to 2 miles. There is a large map on display by the welcome building that we recommend taking a photo of, or why not print off and bring your own? A map of Aira Force is available here. Or, speak to the team at the welcome building who will be happy to help with walking routes.
Walks in Aira Force and Gowbarrow Park
From relaxing strolls to fell-top expeditions, when it comes to walking you're spoilt for choice in Ullswater. A network of trails weaves its way from Ullswater lakeshore to Gowbarrow summit, passing through towering Himalayan firs, rare red squirrels, woodland glades, picnic spots and views out across Ullswater.
For those wishing to venture further afield, plan ahead by downloading a trail from our website.
Space to play
The 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.
Visit the La’al Adventure Box to borrow a lawn game, a nature trail or even some wellies to ensure you have a great adventure. Available in the main Aira Force car park from March to October.
There are some fantastic picnic spots at Aira Force. Roll out the rug by the lake, on the Glade or find a spot at one of our picnic benches. Pick up some hot or cold treats and drinks from the tea-room kiosk for a feast in a flash.
Canoe and kayak lock-up points
For those visitors that wish to arrive at Aira Force in their own boat there are lock-up points available. On the side of the boardwalk at Aira Green (where the Ullswater Steamers pier is) you will find some anchor points for securing your canoe or kayak to when you arrive at Aira Force. You will need to bring your own lock, but then you can head out to explore Aira Force and Gowbarrow park leaving your vessel safely behind.
Kayaking and canoeing from Glencoyne Bay
Park at Glencoyne car park and launch your vessel just across the road at Glencoyne Bay. The pebbled beach and relatively shallow lake edge makes it an ideal place to set off on an adventure.
If you’re looking for a peaceful and picturesque sport to do, below an impressive Lake District sunset, paddle boarding on Ullswater is the way to end an active day.
Explore the wider countryside in Ullswater to avoid the busy spots.
Take a stroll around Glenamara Park where you’ll get great views of the lake and surrounding fells as well as discovering some of the Lake District's most striking veteran trees, including stately oaks and alder. You can download the Glenamara Park Trail here.
Wildlife at Aira Force
Spot a rare red squirrel
The numbers of these shy and elusive creatures have dropped over the years and Aira Force is one of the few remaining places in England where native red squirrels still thrive. Aira Force has joined forces with Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group to help make the area their ideal home, placing feeders beside the footpaths to the falls and carefully managing the woodland.
Stay alert and see if you can spot a red squirrel on your walk. The best time is early in the day or late afternoon when there are fewer people around.
Look out for champion trees
Take your time to explore the woodland glades, following the trail around the Aira Force waterfall and enjoying the fascinating collection of trees as you go. We have lots of activity sheets for kids (young and old) available, speak to a member of the team during your visit to see what we have.
Mushroom spotting at Aira Force
Mushrooms thrive in damp conditions, and with the woodlands at Aira Force being next to a waterfall and a stream, the woodlands are the perfect place to spot them. Please don’t touch or eat the mushrooms. If you do touch them, make sure you wash your hands.
The amethyst deceiver is a small brightly coloured mushroom that grows in both deciduous and coniferous forests. The cap is 1–6cm in diameter and is a deep purplish lilac colour when moist and fades as the mushroom dries out. The stem is the same colour as the cap and is fibrous, hollow and fairly tough. It appears in later summer to early winter and has been coined ‘the deceiver’ as its bright amethyst colouration fades with age and weathering, often making it difficult to identify.
Aira Force is a three pawprint rated place, and well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome here. There are water bowls around the car park and tea-room area. Please read the Canine Code to make sure everyone has an enjoyable day.
Pay a visit to the Aira Force tea-room for hot and cold drinks, home bakes, sandwiches, pasties and ice creams. You can eat in, take away or even bring a picnic.
Booking is essential for coach parties. Please see Aira Force’s guidance on coach parking and access, then get your group booked in for a great day out.
Find out how to spot red squirrels, the best times to see them and how to tell them apart from grey squirrels.
Celebrate the Lake District’s trees with us – ancient trees, veteran trees, trees on nature trails for families to enjoy. Here are some of our favourites.
Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.
Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.
Explore the Lake District's majestic mountains – among them Scafell Pike, the tallest in England – ancient woodland, hidden waterfalls, rugged coastline and, of course, its many lakes. You might even spot a red squirrel, roe deer or bird of prey.