About Aira Force
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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