I believe my home county of Cumbria is one of the most beautiful places to live and since the Lake District was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status back in July last year, joining such places as the Taj Mahal and the Grand Canyon, it seems that I’m not the only one who thinks so. Cumbria attracts thousands of visitors every year from those coming to simply enjoy the slower pace of life to those who want to climb the fells – there really is something for everyone here.
Despite living so close I never tire of the stunning scenery of the Lake District and enjoy days where I can leave the city behind and immerse myself in the countryside, even if only for a few hours. We recently took a trip to Aira Force, a stunning waterfall situated a mere stones throw from the shore of Lake Ullswater. Operated under the care of the National Trust the site is renowned as one of the few places to still maintain a thriving Red Squirrel population despite the breed facing extinction in England.
Cumbria certainly sees it’s fair share of rain throughout the year and this rainwater running off the fells above and into Aira Beck helps create the stunning 65-foot falls thousands of visitor’s flock to see each year. There are several different walks you can follow up and around the falls including a gentler stroll that still enables you to get a fabulous view of the falls without any steps or climbing. The staff manning the small shop within the car park were very helpful and extremely knowledgeable about the routes.
The day we visited it was drizzling with rain but undeterred we packed ourselves a picnic and headed out. On arrival we parked the car at the bottom of the falls in the National Trust car park (charges apply for non-National Trust Members) and utilised the toilet block, which I have to say was extremely well kept, before heading up the falls.
We chose to take the path which climbs right to the top which included of a number of steps that at times were fairly steep, however at only four Leo managed to bounce his way up them without a problem! The path was well maintained and reasonably easy to negotiate, however sturdy shoes were most definitely needed, especially with it being slightly damp under foot. The falls themselves are stunning and “very noisy” as Leo kept informing us! The pictures truly don’t do them justice!
Once we had braved a look over the bridge directly above the fastest part of the falls we began to make our descent taking a different path to the one we had used on the way up. We quickly realised that the route we had chosen was slightly more challenging and involved a lot of concentration as the path was more a series of rocks! Having a fresh layer of rain on them I did have a couple of moments where I thought I may end up on my bottom, but I’m pleased to report we all made it down unscathed! Leo did extremely well with seasoned walkers who passed us even commenting on how well he was doing!
I’m really pleased that we decided to take the path we did as it took us really close the waters edge and we found a lovely picnic spot alongside it to much our sarnies.
As we reached the bottom we spotted a series of numbered trees which we decided to follow and eventually lead us back to the gate at the very bottom. We realised afterwards that there is a Tree Trail map that can be purchased from the on-site shop for £1 with all proceeds going towards the conservation of the area. We would have taken part in this had we realised on the way up!
We also latterly realised that there is a special children’s walk and trail called Cyril’s Red Squirrel Ramble which sees the kids become squirrel detectives on the hunt for clues. Again this is a chargeable activity with all proceeds being used for conservation – on our next visit we will be sure to have a go at this as Leo will love it!
At the bottom of the falls there is a large picnic area complete with benches and a small kids play park made entirely from wood which makes it blend in nicely with it’s surroundings. There is also a tea room if you fancy a cuppa after your walk.
We all thoroughly enjoyed our walk and getting some lovely fresh air in our lungs plus luckily for us the weather decided to brighten up as the day wore on. We even decided to drive round the lake to Pooley Bridge and treat Leo to a well deserved English Lakes Ice Cream and a spot of stone skimming at Lake Ullswater to round the day off perfectly.
To find out more about Aira Force visit The National Trust Website.
Have you visited the Lake District or Aira Force?
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