Aira Force

Ullswater / Lakes District National Park, England, UK (Great Britain)

About Aira Force


Hiking Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2014-08-18
Date last visited: 2014-08-18

Waterfall Latitude: 54.57654
Waterfall Longitude: -2.93062

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Aira Force was one of the more attractive waterfalls in the Lake District of Northern England.

It featured a reported 20m cumulative height, but in person it seemed a bit taller than that.

Aira_Force_045_08182014 - Aira Force
Aira Force

The waterfall tumbled over several tiers between a pair of footbridges spanning the Aira Beck though what you see pictured above was its most attractive section.

The Nomenclature of Aira Force

Like other waterfalls in this part of Northern England, the word “force” in its place name reflected a Viking heritage that dates back some 1100 years.

Aira Force itself was said to be touristed for over the last 250 years.

The name of the falls was said to derive from the word eyrr meaning gravel bank, but the word “force” is like “foss” (i.e. waterfall).

Aira_Force_022_08182014 - The upper tiers of Aira Force on the Aira Beck
The upper tiers of Aira Force on the Aira Beck

In addition, the word á was Old Norse meaning river, which was a word that was familiar to us during our trip to Iceland (where Old Norse was said to be preserved).

So as much as I’m tempted to think of the Air Force with this waterfall’s name, it really referred to its literal meaning as the Gravel Bank River Waterfall.

Experiencing Aira Force

Anyways, nomenclature aside, Aira Force was a pretty easy waterfall to experience for the whole family.

Not only did Julie and Tahia do the entire loop walk on their own, but there were enough picnic spots and little things here and there to keep our little daughter pre-occupied and happy.

Aira_Force_059_08182014 - Context of the picnic area at the start and the end of the Aira Force Walk
Context of the picnic area at the start and the end of the Aira Force Walk

Then, there was the waterfall itself that allowed us to experience it from its top as well as its bottom.

There were also a few places to get a glimpse of the nearby lake Ullswater and its surrounding mountains.

We followed the so-called traditional route, which meandered about the loop path in a clockwise manner.

Initially, the trail passed through a grassy area as it gently climbed uphill.

Then, it went past an intriguing log with a bunch of coins lodged into it along with a red squirrel statue that Tahia seemed to enjoy.

Aira_Force_018_08182014 - Looking towards Ullswater from the hike up to Aira Force
Looking towards Ullswater from the hike up to Aira Force

The trail continued further uphill as it narrowed then bent towards the bridge atop Aira Force.

Nearby this bridge, there was a spur trail that led down steps right to the bridge standing before the base of the falls.

It was also from this spur trail that we probably got our best photos of the waterfall (see photo at the top of this page).

At the top of the falls, I was able to get a closer look at some of the smaller cascades eventually making their way to the main drop of Aira Force directly beneath the bridge.

Aira_Force_036_08182014 - Looking down over the main drops of the Aira Force from the footbridge above its brink
Looking down over the main drops of the Aira Force from the footbridge above its brink

Looking down from the bridge, I could see the alternate trail and the steps leading down to the bottom where the people that went this way looked small given how high up I was.

While I could have continued the loop path past the upper bridge and eventually back down the other side of Aira Beck, I backtracked then went down that alternate path myself.

Eventually, that path connected to the rest of the loop trail on the other side of Aira Beck.

After about 50 minutes of time away from the car, we were back at the very busy car park.

Aira_Force_054_08182014 - Direct look at the Aira Force from the lower footbridge
Direct look at the Aira Force from the lower footbridge

Indeed, it seemed like parking was getting increasingly more difficult to find as we saw many more people show up and circling around waiting for someone to leave when we returned from our hike.

Authorities

Aira Force resides in Cumbria County, England. It is administered by the National Trust. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Aira_Force_003_08182014 - Starting on the Aira Force Walk as it meandered past a lawn area with a few picnic tables
Aira_Force_005_08182014 - Julie and Tahia on the loop trail to the Aira Force
Aira_Force_010_08182014 - Closeup look at coins stuck into a log that we spotted along the Aira Force Walk
Aira_Force_014_08182014 - Tahia pausing from the Aira Force Walk as she got right up to the statue of the red squirrel next to a fallen log with many coins lodged in it
Aira_Force_027_08182014 - Julie and Tahia making their way down the steps towards the bridge atop Aira Force
Aira_Force_028_08182014 - This was the bridge at the top of Aira Force, which as you can see was quite busy
Aira_Force_030_08182014 - Looking downstream towards the bridge above Aira Force after exploring what else was further upstream of the falls
Aira_Force_037_08182014 - Descending the steps leading me towards the base of Aira Force
Aira_Force_043_08182014 - A pleasing contextual view of the main part of Aira Force between the upper and lower footbridges
Aira_Force_046_08182014 - A closer examination of Aira Force from the footbridge at its base
Aira_Force_052_08182014 - Julie and Tahia getting past the mist at the base of Aira Force
Aira_Force_056_08182014 - Julie and Tahia continuing on the loop trail leading back towards the car park
Aira_Force_057_08182014 - Much of the Aira Force Walk was well-forested and not terribly too narrow

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To get to Aira Force from Kendal, we drove north then west along the A591 for about 10 miles towards the busy town of Windermere.

At a small roundabout (basically a white painted circle in the middle of the road), we turned right onto Patterdale Road (A592).

We then followed this narrow road for just under 15 miles towards the well-signed Aira Force car park along the northern shores of Ullswater (it was just east of the junction with the A5091 road).

Aira_Force_001_08182014 - Looking back at the very busy car park for Aira Force
Looking back at the very busy car park for Aira Force

This drive took us about 55 minutes, where most of the time was spent behind lorries, tour buses, and slow drivers in passenger vehicles on the narrow roads between Windermere and Ullswater.

Something worth mentioning about the car park was that we had to pay a very steep 5 pounds to park for 2 hours, which was enough time for us.

Four-hour parking was 7 pounds, and all day was 9 pounds, but National Trust members do not have to pay these car park fees.

Finally, for some geographical context, Kendal was 87 miles (over 2 hours drive) west of York, 73 miles (90 minutes drive) north of Manchester, 236 miles (4.5 hours drive) north of Bath, and 271 miles (over 5 hours drive or 3-4 hours by train) northwest of London.

Top down sweep from the bridge above the falls showing upper cascades before revealing the rest of the falls down below


Top down sweep of the front of the falls revealing all of its tiers and the two bridges located at both ends of the main sections

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Tagged with: ullswater, lakes district, national park, cumbria county, england, uk, united kingdom, waterfall, aira beck



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