TAKE a 25 minute ride on an Ullswater steamer to Aira Force then walk past the popular waterfall and up to the summit of Gowbarrow Fell, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. Stroll along a wonderful contour path high above Ullswater then wander “lonely as a cloud” along part of the Ullswater Way and back to Glenridding.

Start from Glenridding Pier (map reference NY 389 169, postcode CA11 0US) the ‘steamer’ to Aira Force pier runs daily from May onwards. Catch one leaving at 10am, 11am or noon to allow plenty of time for the walk.


Distance: 8 miles with 1,600 feet of ascent.

Time: 5 hours

Terrain: mainly well made paths

Map: OS Explorer OL5


1 Take a steamer to Aira Force. Follow the path from the pier up to the A592, across the road and around the cafe. Keep left (avoiding the car park) then join a path on the right to the waterfall. At the Glade turn right, crossing the beck, and follow the path going left at each junction, to the bridge below the waterfall. Cross the bridge and go up steps past a viewing platform to the top. Turn right to the bridge above the 65-feet falls of Aira Force.

2 Continue along the path on the west side of the beck to another bridge over a gorge. Cross this and continue uphill past High Force. The path goes through a gap in a wall and then continues towards another wall and gate. Turn right before the wall and walk uphill. The path is quite steep in parts. After crossing a flatter section it heads away from the wall and ascends to the summit of Gowbarrow Fell.

3 Retrace your steps for about 100 yards then follow a path on the right in a north easterly direction. The path swings round to the right in sight of the Gowbarrow Park boundary wall and continues to a junction with another footpath at a ruined shooting lodge. Turn right and follow the path to a splendid viewpoint near a memorial seat. Continue along this wonderful path that contours high above Ullswater. After passing Lyulph’s Tower the path descends to the woods surrounding Aira Beck. At the bottom of the slope keep left to return to the Glade and back to the cafe.

4 From the cafe, go right and cross the A5091 to a gate into Glencoyne Park. The Ullswater Way is a 20 mile walking route around Ullswater. This three mile section passes through the ancient woodland of Glencoyne Deer Park. Glencoyne Wood was the place that inspired William Wordsworth to write his most famous poem, “I wandered lonely as a cloud, That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” Follow the wide well made path through Glencoyne car park at the bottom of the spectacular glaciated valley to join a path alongside the A592. Cross directly over the road to the lakeside path. On reaching Stybarrow Bay it is necessary to walk carefully along the A592 for about 200 yards. Where road goes uphill, bear left on the shore path to the edge of Glenridding. Cross the road by the garage and walk through the village back to the pier.

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.