Aira Force :
Probably the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, the main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge. Aira Force provides a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park with dramatic waterfalls, arboretum and rocks scenery.
In the 1780’s the Howard family of Greystoke Castle had an old hunting lodge or Pele tower close to the Ullswater shore renovated into what is now Lyulph’s Tower, set among its own sporting estate. They landscaped the area around the force, and used it as a pleasure garden, planting over half a million native and ornamental trees, and established a network of tracks, footpaths and bridges. In 1846 the Howards created an arboretum below Aira Force, planting over 200 specimen conifers (firs, pines, spruces and cedars) from all over the world, including a Sitka Spruce, now 118 feet high.
After a walk along this part of Ullswater, Wordsworth wrote ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’. See ‘Daffodils at Wordsworth Point, Glencoyne Bay’.
In 1906 Gowbrrow Park, including Aira Force, came up for sale for housing plots. An appeal was launched by the recently formed National Trust, which resulted in the purchase of 750 acres.
The bridges are in honour of two members of the Spring-Rice family from nearby Watermillock, and were erected by friends and members of the family. In All Saints Church at Watermillock are memorial tablets to members of the Spring-Rice family, one of whom wrote the words to the hymn ‘I vow to thee my Country’.
An audio trail on cassette is available from the National Trust information vehicle for those with impaired vision, together with a ‘talking postcard’. Wheelchair and pram access to Aira Beck is possible.
There is a cafe by the large car park, which contains information panels describing the area and its history. Leaflets are available describing the story of Aira Force and Gowbarrow, and family walks from the car park.
The waterfall is on land owned by the National Trust.
Grid Ref : NY 399205