Patterdale Hotel Car Park to Aira Force return

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Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.

The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District.  It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.

Ullswater England’s most beautiful lake is also England’s second largest lake. At approx 9 miles long and three quarters of a mile wide the lake is a typical narrow ‘ribbon lake’ formed after the last ice age by three separate glaciers. The surrounding fells give Ullswater its stretched Z shape with three distinct reaches. Pooley Bridge an attractive village popular with tourists lies at the very northern end of the lake, whilst Patterdale lies at the very southern end. Ullswater is the setting for William Wordsworth’s famous ‘Daffodils’ poem after he saw daffodils growing on its shores. Whatever the weather or the season Ullswater is a wonderful place with so much to offer whether breathtaking views or outdoor activities.

Patterdale is a small village situated at the southern end of Ullswater in the Patterdale Valley. The village has beautiful views of Ullswater and the surrounding mountains which dominate on one side by the Helvellyn range and by Place Fell on the other side. The village is situated on the Coast to Coast route at the southern end of Ullswater and is very popular with tourists whether strolling around the village or for the more adventurous walkers who will find that Patterdale is a great base for many popular fell walks. The village has two pubs The White Lion Inn and The Patterdale Hotel both have accommodation and the latter also caters for campers. The village store and post office sells a little of everything from food and drink to walking gear, maps, post cards and souvenirs of the Coast to Coast walk and the Patterdale Terriers. The store also bakes fresh bread and cookies daily and is known for their Cumberland Sausage Baguettes. Patterdale is the birthplace of the Patterdale Terrier, a working dog, sometimes called the Old English Terrier or the Fell Terrier and many tourists bring their terriers to the Patterdale Dog Show held yearly in August. The village is also home to St. Patricks Church and a small school. Mining was the main industry of this area until Greenside Lead Mine closed in 1960. Today the main industry is sheep farming and tourism.

Glenridding, situated on the shore at the southern end of Ullswater, is set in some of the most beautiful countryside of the Ullswater and Patterdale valley. Surrounded by wonderful fells no wonder Glenridding is popular with mountain walkers Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain, and many challenging peaks can be walked from here. Glenridding provides ample accommodation including camping, youth hostels, self catering cottages, guest houses and hotels and also a good range of local shops, cafes, restaurants, a pub the Travellers Rest and two hotels with bars; the Ratchers Tavern attached to the Glenridding Hotel and the Ramblers Bar attached to the Inn on the Lake Hotel. The Ullswater Steamers who run regular trips across Ullswater to Howtown and Pooley Bridge and the Glenridding Sailing Centre who offer boat hire and sailing tuition are also very popular. The village and surrounding area was used to film the TV series The Lakes. Red Tarn on the eastern side of Helvellyn flows outwards into Glenridding Beck which then flows alongside Greenside Road into Glenridding and Ullswater.

Aira Force probably one of the most famous waterfalls in the Lake District provides a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park with dramatic waterfalls, arboretum and rocks scenery. The final stretch of Aira Beck drops over 200 feet over two waterfalls, High Force and Aira Falls, the latter having a bridge over the top and bottom of the fall making it one of the most popular and photographic water falls in the district. Owned by the National Trust Aira Falls has an impressive drop of 66 feet down a rocky ravine and after heavy rain it is even more impressive. Aira Force is a great day out for all the family. There is a natural play area, picnic spots, tearoom, snacks and a shop. You can go mushroom spotting and see how many different species you can find or you can follow the tree trail, paper trail available to buy at the welcome building. You can also become a red squirrel detective with 30 feeders beside the footpaths to the falls there is a chance of seeing them especially early in the day. Children can learn all about our native red squirrels with Cyril’s red squirrel adventure. Follow the map and Cyril squirrel’s clues to unlock the password and become a squirrel detective just like Cyril. Maps can be bought in the shop at the main Aira Force car park. The National Trust car park at Aira Force on the Ullswater Lake road is a pay and display providing disabled facilities. Charges for parking are £5 for 2 hours, £7 for 4 hours and £9 for all day. There are a couple of places on the A5091 where you can access High Force, Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell where car parking was free but are now pay and display only a little cheaper than the main car park.

The Walk

From the car park opposite the Patterdale Hotel we head forward following the road towards Glenridding using the footpaths from one side to the other. Just before reaching Glenridding we turn right into a large open green area next to the sailing centre and follow the path at the side of the lake towards the pier. We bear left through a gate and left again following the little stream on our right into the village of Glenridding. We continue following the road through Glenridding then take the path on the right ‘The Ullswater Way’ downhill to the lake shore. We follow the shore then when we meet the road we walk along the road for a short way then take the path on the right and continue until we meet the road again. We cross straight over the road to pick up the path on the other side. We continue heading forward with the wall/fence on our right through the gates and a car park until we reach the road. We cross straight over and walk forward past the cafe and into Aira Force car park. We then walk up to Air Force itself for a view of the waterfall before retracing our steps back to Patterdale.


This is an easy walk on good footpaths and tracks which are a little stony in places on the lake shore. There is one short section of road walking and one steep climb up to Aira Force.

Elevation: approx lowest point 144.70m (474.74ft) approx highest point 212.10m (695.87ft) approx ascent 182.80m (599.74ft).

Distance and Start Point

Approx 8.5 miles, including Aira Force waterfall, allow 3½ hours using OS Map OL5, The English Lakes, North-eastern area, Penrith, Patterdale and Caldbeck. This walk is a return on the same route.

Start point: Car park opposite the Patterdale Hotel £4.50 all day.


Patterdale is situated at the southern end of Ullswater in the Lake District, Cumbria.

Directions and Parking

From the A66 at Troutbeck take the A5091 sign posted Ullswater. Follow the A5091 until it joins the A592, on the edge of Ullswater, turn right and Patterdale is less than a mile further on from Glenridding. There are pay and display car parks in Glenridding and Patterdale.

Parking: Pay and display car park opposite the Patterdale Hotel £4.50 for all day. There is also a few free road side parking places near the White Lion Inn.

Toilets and Refreshments

There are public toilets in Glenridding and at Aira Force. For refreshments in Patterdale there are two pubs the Patterdale Hotel and the White Lion Inn, Side Farm Tearooms and a village store and post office. For refreshments in Glenridding there are three pubs the Glenridding Hotel, the Inn on the Lake and the Travellers Rest, Fell Bites Restaurant, Kilners Coffee House,  Mosscrag Tearoom, Fairlight Guest House and Cafe and a few shops. For refreshments at Aira Force there is a tea room and snacks available from the shop in the main car park.

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