As a tourist destination, the Lake District packs quite a punch – with such an amazing array of beautiful landscapes, and exciting visitor attractions to suit all tastes and ages.
From Scale Force, the Lake District’s highest waterfall, to the beautiful Lodore Falls above pretty Derwentwater – visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning waterfalls in the Lakes.
Known locally as ‘forces’ rather than waterfalls, here we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites – and each one is close enough to Windermere to explore either on a short excursion or a day trip from the Howbeck Guest House.
Colwith Force (15-minute drive to starting point)
An easy 15-minute drive from Windermere, Colwith Force is on the River Brathay, and drops in several stages down a total height of around 40 feet. A bit further along the river you’ll also find Skelwith Force, which is only about 17 feet high but squeezes the water through a relatively narrow gap, creating quite an impressive force after some heavy rain. There are some lovely river walks around this area, including the fairly easy yet memorable 4.8-mile Elterwater Waterfalls Walk – which takes in shallow Elterwater, compact Skelwith Force and the larger Colwith Force — all in about two and a half hours.
Aira Force (30-minute drive to starting point)
Possibly the most famous of all of the Lake District’s waterfalls, Aira Force drops 70 feet from below a pretty stone footbridge, with views of a landscaped Victorian park and arboretum created in the 1780’s by the Howard family of Greystoke Castle. Situated at Ullswater, less than half an hour’s drive from Windermere, it was following a walk along this part of the lake that Wordsworth wrote his famous poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’.
Lodore Falls (40-minute drive to starting point)
Best visited after some heavy rain (but reducing to a mere trickle during prolonged dry periods), these falls are situated near the southern end of lovely Derwentwater and are formed by the beck from Watendlath Tarn cascading over massive boulders for around a hundred feet. The falls inspired Lake Poet Robert Southey to write ‘The Cataract of Lodore’ in 1820, a masterpiece of onomatopoeia, and they were considered a must-see attraction for Victorian tourists who holidayed in nearby Keswick. The falls are found on private property, but the owners provide an honesty box for visitors who would like to see them.
Scale Force (60-minute drive to starting point)
About an hour’s drive north of Windermere, tucked away in a tree-lined gorge between Crummock Water and Red Pike, Scale Force is the region’s highest waterfall, with a single drop of 170 feet, and two others of around 20 feet. It is situated on National Trust land and has been a top Lakeland attraction since the early days of tourism in the region. Head to the Buttermere car park, and then leave about two hours to complete the walk to the falls and back (about 2.5 miles in total).