Birkdale House

Five Fabulous Lake District Waterfalls

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Birkdale House

18th December 2023

It’s December and while most of us are getting a little excited about Christmas, it’s also the time of year when our Lake District waterfalls are once again in full spate.

Waterfalls are such an exhilarating sight. A force of water crashing on rocks as it makes its forceful way down to the pools below. You’ll come across a waterfall of some description on most of the region’s rivers, but if you’re looking for something a little more spectacular, a little more exhilarating, here are five fabulous Lake District waterfalls that we think you have to see (and hear).

Aira Force

Aira Force is arguably the best known of our waterfalls. It’s also one of the easiest to get to. Halfway between Glenridding and Watermillock, you’ll find the National Trust car park (just off the A592). Park up and follow the circular footpath which leads through peaceful woodlands to Aira Force.

Do bear in mind that Aira Force is very popular. To beat the crowds, arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Click here for more information.

Stock Ghyll Force

Slightly closer to Birkdale House, Stock Ghyll Force is about 15 minutes on foot from Ambleside. The walk takes you through a classic woodland setting until you reach the falls, which fall around 70 feet in two distinct steps, forming a lovely ‘V’ shape when they meet.

Along the way, there are a number of mini falls to whet the appetite. And once you’re at the main attraction, there are several viewing platforms, including special viewpoints for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

Skelwith Force

Another waterfall relatively close to Birkdale House is Skelwith Force, easily reached from the village of Elterwater in the stunning Langdale Valley. At around 15 feet in height, it’s certainly not one of the highest falls in the Lake District, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch.

Once you’ve parked the car (and maybe enjoyed a bite to eat in The Britannia Inn or the Eltermere Inn), follow the path alongside the River Brathay, through the fields bordering Elter Water and into the woods towards Skelwith Force. The bridges criss-crossing the River Brathay give you excellent views of the falls.

Tom Gill Falls, Tarn Hows

We love Tarn Hows. It’s such a beautiful spot and one of the most easy-access walks in the Lake District. It’s one of our first recommendations when we’re asked about places to see, especially by those with small children. But there is an alternative route which runs alongside Tom Gill, a tumbling stream boasting a stunning waterfall.

Instead of heading straight to Tarn Hows for the family-friendly circular walk, park at the Glen Mary Bridge car park, just off the A593 and follow the signposted route alongside Tom Gill. After about a quarter of an hour you’ll reach the first waterfall, with the second, more impressive fall a little further along.

Rydal Falls

The last of the five fabulous Lake District waterfalls on our list is Rydal Falls. Located just a short walk from William Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount, Rydal Falls is almost certainly one of the most photographed Lake District waterfalls.

There is parking along the lane leading off the A591, or in busier times a small car park just south of Rydal Mount. Take the lane leading to Rydal Mount, passing the house on your left, and keep following the stone wall through the woodlands to the waterfall.

And do make sure you visit ‘The Grot’ at the base of the waterfall. Built in 1668, this small stone hut is considered to be Britain’s first purpose-built viewing station.

As we’ve said at the beginning of this post, you’ll likely come across some kind of waterfall on most rivers, but these are five of our favourites and can be reached without spending hours in the car.

Of course, if you need more information, please do get in touch.

Images courtesy of Cumbria Tourism.