Walk 2039 - printer friendly version
A circuit of Gowbarrow Fell, Ullswater Walk
Author - John Paterson
Length - 3.5 miles / 5.7 km
Ascent - 1100 feet / 333 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference NY396211
Lat 54.581478 + Long -2.9360127
Postcode CA11 0JY (approx. location only)
Gowbarrow Fell is less than 1600 feet in height but is very popular. Firstly, the views, especially over the head of Ullswater, are excellent. Secondly, it is bounded on the west by the tourist magnets of Aira Beck and Aira Force. Many tourists having viewed the force are tempted to walk at least part of the fell and the section of this route from Green Hill to Aira Force, sees hundreds of visitors a day in the summer holidays. The route described here, is ideal for a summer evening or a half day at any time of the year. It would also be suitable for a party where some of the members did not walk and wanted to explore the force whilst the rest stretched their legs.
Start at the small car park and quarry (GR NY396211) a quarter of a mile south of Dockray on the A5091 as it drops towards Ullswater. Parking here avoids the crowds but the Aira Force carpark could be used.
Leave the car park by a gate and head east down the slope towards the wooded valley of Aira Beck. This is reached after 400 yards at a famous feature known as the "Strid" - Cumbrian dialect meaning stride. This is a narrowing of the flow of the beck between rocks only a yard wide at times of light water flow. (GR400212) Sounds easy, but because of the very slippery rocks it takes a high degree of confidence to stride across. For those who wish to make the move there is no doubt that a pair of walking poles will make it both safer and more inviting. Those who can't pluck up the courage should head down the beck past waterfalls until a wooden footbridge is reached after about 200 yards. Cross the bridge and walk back up the beck past the "Strid" for a further hundred yards or so. The path then leaves the beck and the woodland behind and heads north east over open moor with rocky outcrops. On the moor the path is often not clear but the going is easy and in clear weather it is simply a question of climbing to the top of a few outcrops to sight the summit with its trig point (GR407218) and views of Ullswater, Sandwick Bay and Hallin Fell.
Leave the summit heading south east for 400 yards to pick up a footpath marked on OS maps. Turn right on to this footpath and follow it south west for a further 400 yards before bearing off to the right and heading due west to the viewpoint of Green Hill (GR410207 ). From Green Hill a well worn path descends to the west, past Bernard Pike, with superb views of the head of Ullswater which have graced a thousand calendars and post cards. The path leads back to Aira Beck and crosses it by a stone footbridge at Aira Force. Walk back up the left (west) bank of the beck to reach the Strid and the short path uphill to the carpark.