Probably the most famous of the Lake District waterfalls, Aira Force provides a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park with dramatic waterfalls, arboretum and rocks scenery. The main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge and is on land owned by the National Trust.
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.
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’.
Wordsworth at Aira Force
Airey-Force Valley – a short lyric by William Wordsworth, composed in September 1836.
Not a breath of air
Ruffles the bosom of this leafy glen.
From the brook’s margin, wide around, the trees
Are steadfast as the rocks; the brook itself,
Old as the hills that feed it from afar,
Doth rather deepen than disturb the calm
Where all things else are still and motionless.
And yet, even now, a little breeze, perchance
Escaped from boisterous winds that rage without,
Has entered, by the sturdy oaks unfelt,
But to its gentle touch how sensitive
Is the light ash! that, pendent from the brow
Of yon dim cave, in seeming silence makes
A soft eye-music of slow-waving boughs,
Powerful almost as vocal harmony
To stay the wanderer’s steps and soothe his thoughts.
The Somnambulist (1833) by William Wordsworth, recounts the tragic legend of Lady Emma and Sir Eglamore of Aira Force
List, ye who pass by Lyulph’s Tower
At eve; how softly then
Doth Aira-force, that torrent hoarse,
Speak from the woody glen!
Fit music for a solemn vale!
And holier seems the ground
To him who catches on the gale
The spirit of a mournful tale,
Embodied in the sound.
Aira Force Visitor Information
At the main Aira Force car park there is a tea room and an information kiosk and shop which sells snacks and gifts. There is a recently added pier just below Aira Force, which connects to Glenridding and Pooley Bridge on the blue and red timetables of the Ullswater Steamers.
2018 Opening Hours – Waterfall open 24 hours. Tea Room & Shop 10.30 to 16.00 (closed for a week over Christmas)
2018 Admission – free.
Aira Force Car Park – 2 hrs £5.00 / 4 hrs £7.00 / all day £9.00.
High Cascades Car Park, Glencoyne Bay Car Park & Park Brow Car Park – 2 hrs £4.50 / 4 hrs £6.00 / all day £7.00.
Free parking for National Trust members.
There is an excellent accessibility statement available here from the National Trust – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/documents/access-guide/1431729717898-aira-force-and-ullswater.pdf
Accommodation Links :
- Crookwath Cottage – luxury 4* self catering in a superb remote location above Ullswater, near to Aira Force. Sleeps 6
- Photos of Aira Force
- The Somnambulist
- William Wordsworth
- Wordsworth Attractions in Cumbria
- East Lakes Area of Cumbria Menu
- National Trust