The Lake District Guide
Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks
Aira Force And Ullswater Waterfalls
The best time to see the falls is after heavy rain. But you need to be careful, for the wet rocks can be very slippery.
Park in Aira Green car park. Leave by the kissing-gate at the far end of the car park, and follow the path across the field, through the kissing-gate into the wood, over the footbridges then up the higher path and left. The first view is from the little stone bridge. Rejoin the path and continue up to the second bridge. This is the downward view of the big fall. Do not cross the bridge, but continue up the side of the beck by the path on its right. The beck tumbles over steps, and slides over hard smooth rock, and seeks out little spouts.
The path is rather wet. Watch for dippers - the little shy dark birds with the white fronts and the short tails, which can dive under the water for food. In places the beck has cut its way under the bank to produce little caves. There are potholes cut into the bed by swirling pebbles. At one point the path leaves a precipitous section to go up the hillside behind an oak tree. A better defined path is joined at a T-junction. Turn left. At the fork turn left and cross the footbridge.
At this point the beck speeds through a narrow gorge and quite a way below. At the other side of the bridge turn right, but take care if you go near the edge as it is slippery. Just a little further on is where the beck speeds along a flat section before dropping into the gorge. Go up the path. In the narrow section between the beck and the wall go close to the wall, keeping to higher ground. You then reach another waterfall known as High Force. From the beck side it can be admired, though the main force is obscured by a rock doorway.
You can see the force from a rocky promontory above this. But beware - the rock is mossy and slippery. Above the falls the water slips over a hard rock pavement. Linger here by all means, but just above this is the step-stile through the wall on the left. This is the route. Go across the field along a faint path opposite, towards a gate and stile in the far wall. Go through neither but follow the wall down on the field side of it.
Soon several paths are seen. Take any of them down and well below a plantation. A little wicket gate is reached, just above the falls again. Go through it and turn right. Go up the wooden steps and round to the left. Do not go down to the beck but continue on to a kissing-gate and into a field. Go forward on grassy path, past the old ash trees, and bear left on a faint path, over a wooden step stile, and down to the car park kissing-gate.
As you go southwards beyond the head of Ullswater the heights of Fairfield and Caudale Moor crowd about the cleft of Kirkstone Pass - the highest road in the Lake District (1,489 feet). Before reaching Ullswater the becks which race down the craggy steeps fall into a little hollow. This is Brothers Water, passed by thousands of motorists but seldom admired except from a moving window. The western banks are in the care of the National Trust and there is free access to the lake. A walk around the lake is highly enjoyable.
Drive southwards beyond the head of Ullswater and after about 2.5 miles the road turns left and there is a large lay-by. Park on this lay-by. Walk on along the roadside footpath, and at the road junction in the corner of the bend turn right along the main road. The footpath is on the left of the road, then when this finishes look across the road and you will see a wooden kissing-gate leading into the lakeside field. Cross with care and go through this. Go left along the lake shore. The path continues along the wall to the shore to the wall at the end of the lake. Follow the road above. Walk along the road for about 70 yards only, then cross carefully, ascend steps, and go through the kissing gate. Follow path with the fence through gates to just beyond the Brothers Water Hotel. Then leave the path sharp right through kissing-gate and cross to the hotel. From the hotel a public right of way goes down through the camping field. The great cleft of Dovedale is on the left. Follow track down and go through the gate. Cross the wooden bridge.
On the far right-hand side of the head of Dovedale the peak is Hart Crag (2,698 feet) Dove Crag is to the left of this. Left of this and nearer to you is a "dodd"; a grassy fell separated from the main fell. This is High Hartsop Dodd, a mere 1,702 feet but in a commanding position. Go through another gate, turn left, and then go right round the back of the Hall. A track is joined, follow it right.
Go through gate. Go through the gateway. Note how the ash tree on the right has wrapped itself around the steel fence. You soon approach the shore of Brothers Water again and here is a pleasant place to linger. Looking across one can see on the far fells two pikes, looking like miniatures of the famous Langdale Pikes. These are the Angle Tarn Pikes. You can stroll along the lake shore for a distance, but then one is forced by the rough ground to walk up the bank to the lane again. The wood up on the left has been scheduled as an Area of Special Scientific Interest as it is a very typical natural wood, mainly oak with a lot of hazel, but mixed in naturally are rowan, ash, hawthorn and holly. The lake shore is accessible again further on, and as all this area including the wood belongs to the National Trust you are free to wander and linger. The lane, overhung with many hazels, leads back to the lay-by where you began.
Hayeswater - 2.5 or 4 miles
Hayeswater is a mountain tarn with its level slightly raised by a dam; the water's setting amongst fierce crags gives it a wild and haunting appearance. It is well worth the modest climb. A walk to the lake and back is only 2.5 miles - but make allowance for the climb of about 750 feet. A circuit of the water makes it four miles, but good footwear is essential.
The paths are good to the tarn, but boggy around it. Travelling south from Patterdale the road approaches Brothers Water and bends left to pass it. Shortly from this point there is a straight stretch of road and a sharp bend right from Kirkstone; but opening directly on this bend and right ahead of you is a minor road into the village of Hartsop. Take this road and drive carefully through the village, following the road upwards and right until a car parking area is reached on the right. Park here. Leave the car park, go ahead through the gate and on up the stony track. Go through another gate and immediately afterwards fork right. Cross the beck by the concrete footbridge, go forward and turn left before you get to the gap in the wall, follow the wall up.
The path rises then goes right through a wall gap towards a barn and then turns left to climb the fell between walls. The barn on the right is traditional style with its roof crowned with ferns, and framed in sycamores. The path steepens but it is pleasant and green .underfoot. There is a view back to Brothers Water. Go through gate. When the track levels out a little there is a good view of waterfalls below which are especially good after heavy rain. As the track comes nearer to the beck it begins to get rougher. Below in the beck there are some very nice "dubs" - smooth hollows in the rocky beck bed, sculptured by current-borne pebbles and gravel. After admiring the shapes that nature can make, forward beyond the dam is a rounded knoll which gives a good view of the little lake.
If there is a wind blowing there are one or two sheltered coves where one can picnic in comfort. The walk round the tarn from here should take between 45 minutes to an hour. There is some wetness to cross at the far end. If you wish to do the circumambulation it is otherwise enjoyable. As you go up the valley you can see some splendid examples of moraines - rounded hills which are really deposits of worn rocks scooped out of the heights by the retreating ice of the last age, and left behind when the ice melted. The valley is a "hanging valley" bored out of the mountain side by the pressure of ice. There is a reasonable path all the way to the head of the tarn, but to cross to the other side on reaching the head there is a mass of rushy wet ground. To avoid the worst of this walk right on up to the moraine heaps before turning left.
The view up the craggy valley head of Thornthwaite, shut in by the great walls of High Street and with gray crag on the right, is dramatic. Pick your way along the pathless green, crossing the little becks and going through the old wall by one of the gaps. Make for the moraines on the far side before turning down the lake again, and a narrow path will be picked up. This goes close to the lake shore and there are some pretty shingle beaches. On reaching the dam again leave by the path on which you arrived. If you wish you can descend all the way by this very easy path. But there is an alternative way with an initial steepness. Watch for the waterworks building on the right of the beck below. On seeing it you should also see. a footbridge to it, with a steep path leading to it from the path on which you walk. Go down, cross the footbridge, and cross the slate stepped stile just below it. You pass the waterworks buildings and a good track is joined, follow it down passed the water works litter. As you go down the track across the valley you can see the barn which you passed on the way up. It fits into the scene perfectly. The valley head behind it, wild and craggy, leads up into Threshthwaite Cove. Go through the gate. As You descend to the next gate, look at the wall on your right. Each stone has been layed carefully to fit - like a three- dimensional jig-saw. But the size of some of those stones, carefully turned and placed, makes one wonder at the strength of the man who made it. \From this point you are soon back at the car park.