Stock Ghyll Force was a small but attractive segmented and multi-tiered 60ft waterfall that kind of reminded me of a smaller scale version of Sol Duc Falls in the Olympic Rainforests of Washington State. It was one of the more unique waterfalls in that the Stock Ghyll stream had split up into the segments giving the waterfall its unusual shape, then it recoverged towards the bottom. We happened to visit this waterfall under some pretty nasty and heavy downpours so the scene was lush with green all around though we had to exercise caution given the slippery and muddy terrain the weather had caused. Fortunately for us, the weather calmed down just as we started to enjoy viewing the falls.
Being so close to the charming Lakes District town of Ambleside, it took us about 45 minutes to make the walk from the pay and display car parks in town (we parked at the one nearest the Ambleside Museum) then onto the Stock Ghyll Lane before finally climbing up on the dirt trail getting the view of the falls you see pictured on this page. It turned out that we probably could have significantly reduced the amount of walking to get to the falls had we exercised the option of using “disc” parking, where one would have to go into a store in town and ask for it (said to be free), then display the disc on the dash while parked in one of these designated spots. There were a few disc parking spots right across from the official entrance of the hike as well as a few more just down the hill from the end of the road (where public vehicles were no longer allowed).
Speaking of the short walk, finding Stock Ghyll Lane wasn’t trivial as we had to pass through an alleyway with a one-way street (next to the Market Hall) deviating from the main road through town (A591). On the other side of the alleyway, we found ourselves walking uphill on the Stock Ghyll Lane, which had small and subtle signs with red arrows on them pointing the way further to the falls. Eventually, we’d deviate from the steep and narrow paved road then veer left onto the dirt trail that followed alongside the Stock Ghyll Stream showing hints of the backsides of some buildings belonging to the town of Ambleside along with some artificial waterfalls in the stream itself.
Eventually, we’d get up to the main lookout where we got some partially obstructed views of Stock Ghyll Force. No matter which position we were at, we never really got totally clean looks at the falls, but as you can see from the photos on this page, the views we did get weren’t bad either. And when we had our fill of the falls, we then continued on the path as it veered back towards the very top of Stock Ghyll Lane past a turnstile. That made us realize that residents here or those with disc parking could’ve easily parked very close to the falls. But given the amount of traffic in Ambleside, it probably wasn’t worth the trouble if we were going to walk around town anyways. All in all, we spent about an hour on the trail and this didn’t include the additional walking from the Market Hall area to the car park (probably an additional 30 minutes round trip).
From Windermere (which was about a 10-mile drive northwest of Kendal), we would have to head up the A591 north for a little over 3 miles towards the A593 road on the left. Then follow the A593 road north Wansfell Road. Turning left onto Wansfell Road because the A591 is one-way going in the opposite direction further north towards Rothay Road, and continue on Rothay Road as it becomes Compston Road (veering away from the main restricted traffic area at Church Street). Eventually, Compston Road would rejoin the A591 at a roundabout, where we went left towards a public car park near the Ambleside Museum about a 1/4-mile to the northwest of the roundabout. That was where we paid and displayed, then walked the rest of the way through Ambleside towards Stock Ghyll Force. This drive should be around 15 minutes or so.
Conversely, from Keswick, we went about 15.4 miles south on the A591 right into the busy town of Ambleside. The car park was on our right right across from the Ambleside Museum. The drive from Keswick to Ambleside took around an hour mostly because there was a bit of a traffic jam around Ambleside.
Lastly, to give you 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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