Gowbarrow Fell Circular Walk via Aira Force

This is a lovely circular walk with continued interest and some great views over Ullswater. You will take in the dramatic Aira Force and upper cascades, then climb to the summit of Gowbarrow Fell where there are great views.
The descent is more gradual and passes the remains of an old shooting lodge before arriving at another great view point at Yew Crags. The return gives good views and the interesting Lyulph's Tower.

Technical sheet
No. 29578881
A Matterdale walk posted on 30/12/22 by Alwayswiththehills. Update : 05/01/23
Calculated time Calculated time: 2h55[?]
Distance Distance : 6.64 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 353 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 348 m
Highest point Highest point : 470 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 164 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Lake District
Location Location : Matterdale
Starting point Starting point : N 54.571991° / W 2.928409°
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Download : PDF / Print - GPX track

Description

Start : National Trust car park for Aira Force, along A592 Lake District. Grid ref. NY 400 200.

(D/A) From the parking walk past the kiosk and through a gate into parkland with Aira Beck over on the right. The path leads to a junction. (Going right will lead over a bridge and the path will ascend opposite side of the beck, going straight ahead will lead you through pines, maintaining this side of the beck. See Useful Information Below for current details in December 2022)

(1) Take the path straight ahead (North) through the pine trees and ascend some random stone steps, good views of the falls to a gate on the left into a field and just after that a metal gate (currently locked) which leads to the steps down to the viewing platform and lower bridge. There are good views of the main fall from here.
Continue along the path to the higher stone bridge which is directly above the top of the main waterfall. Good views looking down on either side.

(2)Cross the higher stone bridge to the opposite side, turn left and follow the path with Aira Beck on your left. Ignore any finger posts pointing you to paths on the right, there is a higher path you can take but the lower path gives the best views of the cascades. You will arrive at some random stone steps leading down to a wooden bridge. It is worth walking down for the view then return to the path. Continue along the path with Aira Beck on your left, pass through a gap in a stone wall and walk across a field to a wooden gate in the stone wall.

(3) Just before the gate slant up rightwards to join a path that ascends to a further gate, pass through and ascend with a stone wall and wood on the left. The path is under repair and construction, the lower section is in good condition but as you get higher (after leaving wood on the left behind you) it deteriorates in sections and at the time of writing there were a couple of deviations where the path repairs were taking place. Near the summit the path veers to the right, away from the wall and leads to the top (Gowbarrow Fell).

(4) Enjoy a rest and the good views of Ullswater from the summit. When you are ready walk North-East and back to a path that is roughly parallel to the wall. The path curves to the right, always with the wall on your left to a junction with another track and the ruins of an old shooting lodge.

(5) Take the path in a Southerly direction with the steeper drop down Collier Hagg on your left, This will bring you to a wire fence above the top of Yew Crag. You can cross the fence via a stile to the obvious cairn and great views over Ullswater.

(6) When ready, cross back over the fence and turn left. Follow the path in a Westerly direction, it contours and then descends to join another path just above Lyulph's Tower.

(7)Continue along the path towards the wooded area. Just before the wood take the left hand path, go through a gate and descend to the bridge over Aira Beck.

(1) Turn left and return to the kiosk and parking. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 164 m - National Trust car park for Aira Force
1 : km 0.22 - alt. 174 m - Junction in path
2 : km 0.66 - alt. 203 m - Upper stone bridge
3 : km 1.78 - alt. 280 m - Junction in path
4 : km 2.75 - alt. 470 m - Gowbarrow Summit
5 : km 3.62 - alt. 356 m - Ruins of shooting lodge
6 : km 4.92 - alt. 307 m - Stile over fence to Yew Crag view point
7 : km 5.96 - alt. 217 m - Junction with path
D/A : km 6.64 - alt. 164 m - National Trust car park for Aira Force

Useful Information

Start : National Trust car park for Aira Force, along A592 Lake District. Grid ref. NY 400 200.

Parking : Park at the National Trust car park for Aira Force. (Parking is free for National Trust members but is quite pricey for the half day required to do this walk. However, your money goes to good use; maintaining the fell paths for walkers is not cheap!! and ensuring the banks of the beck and safe takes money and the support of professionals and volunteers.) (Alternative parking that is cheaper but more limited can be found on the road to Dockray)

Note : At December 2022 / January 2023 the lower stone bridge and viewing platform is closed following the fall of a tree in this area. The tree has been cleared but the National Trust are assessing the potential for further treefalls and the bridge and viewing area will remain closed for the foreseeable future. If you do this walk and the paths are re-opened please post a note to let other walkers know.

I would usually recommend crossing the beck at waypoint (1) and ascending the far path to the lower stone bridge, crossing this to the viewing platform and then ascending the steps to waypoint (2) and continuing to re-cross the beck at the higher stone bridge at waypoint (3). Obviously this is not currently possible so it is better to walk as described above.

Facilities : There is a Kiosk at the car park and in high season you can buy drinks / refreshments.
Once away from the trees there is little shelter, Wainwright describes the shooting lodge as a place where shelter can be found but this no longer the case.

Note: The walk can be completed in either direction and both are equally as good. Wainwright recommends the walk in the opposite direction to the way described with a descent from the summit in a Southerly direction following feint paths to Green Hill and then back to the Aira Force and the car park but this misses out the upper cascades.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Aira force can be very dramatic and the upper cascades are worth the visit too as many people just walk up to the first, main waterfall.

The waterfall is best saved for a period when there has been a lot of rain, but at this time you may be faced with narrow weather windows, and the full circular walk is best saved for a day when you will get good views. Do this on a peaceful summer's day, enjoy a picnic in the parkland beside a more gently flowing beck. It is a place for all seasons.

Always prepare for the weather, even a low lying and seemingly benign hill like Gowbarrow can present you with challenges.

In 1802 that Dorothy Wordsworth noticed wild daffodils growing on the side of Gowbarrow Fell. This inspired her brother, William Wordswoth to write his famous poem, Daffodils.

Gowbarrow Fell / Park was once a hunting park, stocked with deer. Lyulph's Tower was built as a hunting lodge by the Howard family in the 18th century and was designed to look like a castle from the lake. It is now a private residence.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.

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