Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Waterfalls, Lakeland's natural attraction

Niagara Falls. So spectacular that they are a must see tourist attraction in their own right. There's certainly nothing like them in the British Isles. But although Britain may not have any falls to match the scale and grandeur of their American cousin, it does boast a number of delightful cascades of unique charm and character.

To illustrate the point that when it comes to waterfalls, size is certainly not everything, here are half a dozen of the finest falls to be found in The English Lake District. Each one not only has a unique charm, but is also easily accessible.

Lodore Falls

One of the the most spectacular, and certainly the noisiest of all Lakeland's waterfalls, Lodore Falls are situated behind the Lodore Falls Hotel, on the edge of Derwentwater. They are easy to access as in Victorian times the owners of the falls built a wide carriageway to take visitors from the hotel to the falls. Those who could not afford the carriage ride simply walked along the wide track to a viewing area that remains to this day. But they still had to pay the entrance fee, and at the gate beside the Lodore Hotel there is a box so that you can also contribute towards the maintenance of the area around the falls.

You can access the falls by either parking in Kettlewell Car Park (National Trust) and following the well signed footpath to the falls, a woodland walk of approx. 1/2 mile, or you can take the boat from Keswick and alight at Lodore and follow the path from the Lake shore, past the hotel and up to the falls.

Stickle Ghyll

Not so much one single waterfall, but a series of cascades set in the shadow of the Langdale Pikes, the lower reaches of Stickle Ghyll are easy to access for most moderately fit, able bodied people. Simply park at the car park opposite the entrance to The New Dungeon Ghyll hotel, and walk up the access road and through the small gate between the hotel and cottages. It is then a short trek up the fell side, along a maintained rocky path, with the lower cascades to your right. Those without any walking equipment should not go farther than the bridge, but for the better equipped it is possible to follow the water course all the way up the fell to it's source at Stickle Tarn.

Skelwith Force

What Skelwith Force lacks in height, (it is just 25 feet high) it more than makes up for in noise and volume. Created by a narrowing of the rivers that drain the Langdale Valley, and all the fells surrounding it, Skelwith Force is also the most accessible of Lakeland's waterfalls. If you park close to the Skelwith Bridge Inn and follow the course of the river upstream along a well made footpath you will soon come to the falls. The only word of warning would be to beware of the rocks as they tend to be very slippery, however, you don't need to get too close to enjoy Skelwith Force in all it's glory.

For a video of the Slater's Bridge and Waterfalls walk, which can be done from Elterwater, click here.

Colwith Force

Located in woodland just off the road to Little Langdale, this is surely one of Lakeland's best kept secrets. Access to the falls is along a clear woodland track, part of the Cumbria Way long distance footpath, so easy to follow. Not so easy for motor based tourists is parking, but one good option on a fine day is to park at Skelwith Bridge and take in both Skelwith Force and Colwith Force. They are linked by the Cumbria Way footpath. (Note, stout boots and a good level of fitness will be required for this walk, which is along a wide stony track, but has wet sections).

Check out a video of Colwith Force here ...

Stock Beck Park and Falls 

A beautiful woodland park and waterfalls on the edge of Ambleside, Stock Beck Park and Falls is also accessible to most people. In Victorian times the park was a major tourist attraction, and visitors had to pay to enter. One of the old turnstiles used by the owners can still be seen today, restored to working order and now used as an entrance to the park..

The waymarked paths lead the visitor on a circular walk around the park, the highlight of which are the falls. At the top of the cascade is a bridge from which the views of the park and town beyond are only spoiled by the rich foliage of the trees.

For a video of Stock Beck Park and Falls, click here

Aira Force

Not the biggest, but possibly the most popular and certainly the most famous of Lakeland's waterfalls, Aira Force is, like Stickle Ghyll, more a series of cascades than simply one large drop. The good news is that access is very good, and unlike the other falls, there is more than one direction of approach.

The paths around the falls were laid out many years ago and those at the bottom of the cascades are well maintained, making access very easy. However, if you follow the course of the river upstream to where the series of cascades starts you will find that the paths get rockier, and in icy weather can be very slippy. The main falls are not particularly high, but after wet weather they are truly spectacular. Because they drain pasture land they are also less likely to dry up than falls that drain rocky areas.

For a video of Aira Force after rain, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment