There’s something so captivating about waterfalls, I almost enter a hypnotic state watching the water cascade down rugged rock faces. The monstrous roar. The chilling spray. The mist. The uncontrollable urge to touch the frothing bubbles. But it’s not just the water that vies for your attention, it’s the surrounding scenery too. I’ve yet to visit all of the waterfalls in the Lake District but the ones I have seen are pretty impressive!
1. Stock Ghyll Force, Ambleside
Tucked away behind the bustling town, Stock Ghyll Force is a little gem that often gets overlooked by visitors in Ambleside. There’s plenty of parking in the town and it’s just a short walk up to the beck behind the Salutation Hotel. Follow the signposts to the waterfalls as you walk uphill along the beck. Once you reach the top, there are fabulous views looking down the falls and fairy pools from the bridge. Because this is just a short walk, you’ll still have lots of time to explore the shops and stop for a coffee on the way back to the car.
2. Ritson’s Force, Mosedale Valley
From the Wasdale Head Inn, just along from Wastwater in the Wasdale Valley, make your way over the little bridge from the beer garden. With the beck on your right, pass through the gorgeous countryside of Mosedale Valley with views of Great Gable and Scafell Pike. As you reach some conifers, you’ll see a National Trust sign for Ritson’s Force. Go through the gate and walk down to the waterfall. There are several smaller waterfalls here that are set among quiet woodlands overlooking the valley. And don’t forget to stop off at the Wasdale Head Inn on your way back for a drink!
3. Aira Force Waterfall, Ullswater
Overlooking Lake Ullswater, Aira Force waterfall is one of the most widely known of the waterfalls in the Lake District. There’s a National Trust car park just a short walk from the top of the falls. However, it is fairly small and gets full quickly especially at weekends and school holidays. Gushing down the craggy ledges, Aira Force is reminiscent of a tropical rainforest with its mossy, fern-strewn rocks and leafy canopy. Walk along the Gowbarrow Trail to explore nooks and crannies and hidden pools. You’ll be tempted to stop for photos or a paddle!
4. Tom Gill Waterfall, Coniston
Plummeting down the stream from Tarn Hows, Tom Gill falls are pretty impressive, eespecially when get close up and feel the cold spray on your cheeks. There are several ways to reach the falls but the easiest is from the National Trust Car Park at Tarn Hows. As you come out of the car park, follow the path down to the water in a clockwise direction. Within a few minutes you’ll pass through a gate where you’ll see a signpost to Tom Gill on the left hand side. Just follow the flow of the stream downhill and you’ll come to this wonderful series of waterfalls.
5. Tongue Pot, Eskdale
Tucked away in the Esk Valley, Tongue Pot boasts the most beautiful setting and is one of my favourite waterfalls in the Lake District. This series of waterfalls and emerald-green pools is hugged on all sides by fells and rolling fields. Tongue Pot is a totally idyllic hideaway for a spot of wild swimming and a picnic.
To reach Tongue Pot, park a little further up from the old telephone box at the bottom of Hardknott Pass. Follow the river (on your left) through the valley. You’ll pass smaller waterfalls on your way up before reaching the piece de resistance. You’ll come to a fence and when you can’t go any further, climb over some stone steps jutting out from the wall on your right. A few yards on there are some more steps over the fence on your left where you can access Tongue Pot. This is one of my favourite spots in the Lake District as it’s more secluded with fewer people around.
6. Sour Milk Gill, Buttermere
This is a nice easy walk from the village of Buttermere to the bottom of Sour Milk Gill with the head of the lake on your left and views of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks in the distance. If you want to enjoy a longer walk, the circular route around Buttermere is really straightforward. There had been a lot of rain prior to my walk to Sour Milk Gill so I didn’t risk climbing up the falls. The waterfall flows from Bleaberry Tarn through the trees to Buttermere and builds up a fair amount of force as it reaches the bottom of the hill. Be sure to call in at Syke Farm Tea Room on your way back to the village for a homemade pie or cake!
7. Fairy Glen, Stonethwaite
Fairy Glen is a pretty haven where you’ll find lots of waterfalls and plunge pools along Stonethwaite Beck. It sits in the shadow of Eagle Crag just further up from Stonethwaite campsite. For more detailed directions, read the Fairy Glen blog. Wild swimming is a must when visiting here, and although the water’s cold when you first dip your toes, you soon adjust to it. Once in the water you can swim up to the waterfall from the gin-clear pool. If you don’t fancy packing a picnic, stop off at the Langstrath Inn at Stonethwaite Village.
8. Gill Force, Eskdale
Starting from Dalesgarth Station, there’s a peaceful walk through Boot to Gill Force. Further along the road, opposite the Brook House Inn, you’ll see a sign for St Catherine’s Church. Follow the sign and the country lane until you reach a gate where you can either turn left and cross the bridge or continue on to the church. Just past the church, you’ll come to some giant stepping stones, which are great fun even for the big kids like me! Turn left and you’ll arrive at Gill Force and several shaded little pools in the river where you can go paddling and picnic on the rocks.
9. Kentmere Reservoir, South Lake District
Although this isn’t a natural waterfall and is actually the overflow from Kentmere Reservoir, the sheer beauty of its location makes it equally as impressive as those of above. The reservoir can be found in the South Lakes and is surrounded by nine imposing fells that make up the Kentmere Horseshoe. If you’re a stickler for only natural waterfalls, then you’ll be pleased to learn that there are several smaller falls that gush down from the fells into the valley.
Park at Kentmere village by the telephone box and you’ll find a signpost a little further up the road that sends you in the direction of the reservoir. Taking the top route through some fields, you soon reach the main path where you turn right then keep heading straight on.
10. Barrow Cascade, Derwentwater
Gushing down beneath Ashness Bridge, Barrow Cascade is a pretty waterfall that runs into Derwentwater. Enveloped by lush greenery, the crystal clear pools and plummeting falls create a magical setting. The surrounding woodlands are brimming with wildlife such as various species of birds, butterflies, red squirrels, deer and dragon flies. Teamed with Derwentwater’s shoreline, this is an exciting and enchanting walk that kids will love.