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" Gowbarrow via Bernard Pike "

Date & start time:      5th October 2019.    12 midday start.

Location of Start :    The Aira Force car park, Ullswater, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 400 200)

Places visited :          Bernard Pike, Green Hill, Gowbarrow, back by the Aira waterfalls to the cafe !

Walk details :              4.5 miles, 1300 feet of ascent, 4 hours.

Highest point :          Gowbarrow Fell, 1,579ft - 481m.

Walked with :             Jo, Ann and our dogs, Amber, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                    Overcast but mild.  Grey clouds to the west hint at the rain expected at 5pm !

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We've arranged to meet up with Jo again as she is up in the Lakes for a few days.

This time we travel over to her part of the world to walk Gowbarrow, a fell we haven't been to the top of for over four years.

We drive to the National Trust car park at Aira Force and then walk through the woods to start our climb onto the open fell.

Parking is free for members and in recent years a new visitor centre and shop is an added attraction.

We walk up through the woods but rather than follow the crowds to the waterfalls,

we take a right turn at 'The Glade' and head cross the river on the first of the many bridges.

The giant fir tree, its size so big it was too large to photograph all in one. . . as it was this is a composite photo, two exposures wide.

The delightful sound of birdsong greeted us as we made our way to the gate leading to the fells.

Looking around I spot the robin, who stayed long enough for me to change to the zoom lens and take a close up photo.

Aira Force Bug Hotel . . . a hollow object or just a lump of wood ?
Outside the fence . . . a few harebells amongst the dying bracken.

Above the tree line now and the views open up as expected.

We're looking up the lake towards Birks Fell and St Sunday Crag, with the wooded Glenridding Dodd to the right.

Higher now and the view behind the ladies includes Sheffield Pike and the Helvellyn Range.

The Howard family of Greystoke Castle had an old hunting lodge or Pele tower close to the Ullswater shore

renovated into what is now Lyulph’s Tower.    The family was responsible for landscaping and planting the area around Aira Force.

It seems that the current owners are undertaking a few roof repairs.

The tower gives the appearance of a castle from the front but more like a grand residential house from the rear.

The Ullswater Steamers ply their trade up and down the lake . . .
. . . the Western Belle and the Raven, part of the fleet working today.

Our path takes a more unusual route than normal, we head more directly up the fell side towards Bernard's Pike.

There are a few examples of late bell heather still in bloom higher up the fell . . . the deep colour is a real delight.

If any rock is individually identifiable . . . then this one is probably Bernard's.

It is the most prominent one when approached from below.

The fell continues to rise slightly beyond the Pike, and Jo waits while I wonder where the other dog has gone !

They're together photographically once again for the summit cairn on Green Hill, just a little further along the fell.

From here we set off on a rather less well-defined, occasionally damp path . . . across the undulating summit plateau of Gowbarrow.

Up ahead at last we see the trig point, which appears not to be on the highest point of Gowbarrow.

When we arrive it becomes clear that our previous view was an optical illusion . . . we've reached the top.

A quick, un-posed photo from the trig point as we get a full 360 degree view of the area.

It is a little bit cooler up here as we are exposed to a cool breeze.  Thankfully the forecasted rain is holding off.

I take a quick spin around the trig point before we go.

Click here or on the photo above for a 360 degree annotated panorama.

Decisions, decisions . . . shall we go left or right ?

We've seen Lyulph's Tower and the lake so we turn left on leaving the summit and follow the wall down towards the Aira Beck valley.

On the steepest part of the fellside the path is in poor repair, but plans are afoot to put that right.

The black bags that have been helicoptered in are full of stone to build a pitched path across the worst of the erosion scars.

Information available at "Fix the Fells".
Nearly down to the valley path, looking back at the start of the repairs.

- - - o o o - - -


The path now takes us down the valley alongside the beck.

Soon we are crossing the High Cascades Bridge.


There is a path down either side here so there is a choice

should you wish to do this walk.

Whether you cross the bridge or not

is entirely up to you !


- - - o o o - - -

The High Cascades start small . . .

. . . and gradually become faster and steeper . . .

. . . culminating in the large waterfall known as Aira Beck's High Force.

- - - o o o - - -


The river is quite fast flowing but we saw a white chested Dipper

feeding in the slack water in between the rocks.

It has the ability to 'fly' underwater

as he searches out the invertebrates to eat.


Hopefully you can see him more clearly as he dives below the water

if you hold your cursor over the picture a few times.


- - - o o o - - -

The river path is a delight even on a rather dull afternoon.

The middle bridge crosses a deep gorge . . . . again you can change sides here if you wish to walk the other bank.

The beck has cut a deep gorge into the rock and in one of the pools . . .
. . . a slight back eddy held a rotating head of foam in place.

The beck emerges from the ravine and continues on as if nothing really spectacular had just happened.

Ancient trees have fallen and re-grown alongside the path, the lower limbs now home to a thick layer of moss.

This old specimen is host to a thriving colony of tree ferns.
Tucked at its base, a colourful toadstool.

Another gorge heralds our imminent arrival at the main waterfall.

After seeing few people up on Gowbarrow, the paths by the water falls have the appearance of rush hour !

It seems this top bridge is a great place for a 'selfie'.

We walk to the base of the falls via the steep flight of steps.
Aira Force tumbles 70ft over the edge to the pool below.

More folk take the opportunity to view and photograph the falls from the lower bridge.

The bridges were built in memory of two members of the Spring-Rice family from nearby Watermillock.

A few more woodland paths, past some ancient trees . . .
. . . and we find ourselves back where we started, by the big fir tree.

The delightfully tuneful sound of a small bird fills the air once again.

In the ash tree next to the path a robin sings his heart out . . . could it be the same bird as earlier ?

- - - o o o - - -



Retracing our steps after our circuit of Gowbarrow

we reach the lower wooden bridge,

the one that we crossed at the start of the walk.


It is half past three

and we fancy a little refreshment

as our coffee and cake at Jo's caravan

was quite some time ago now.


Aira Force has a great cafe

. . . I hope it is still serving.



- - - o o o - - -

Rather than take the main path to the car . . .

. . . we'll head directly for the cafe as we remember that they welcome dogs outside.

It will be nice to sit out on a day like this too, as the rain has held off and the cafe is sheltered from the breeze.

Sadly on this cool-ish day they had sold out of the hot soup option,

so the fall-back was a 'cream tea' with scones and strawberry jam and large mugs of hot tea.

We just managed to order the last of the scones of the day . . . good job we weren't any later otherwise we would have missed out on them too.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix TZ60, or my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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Previous walk - 3rd October - High Nook - Holme Force

A previous time up here - 14th February 2009 An OFC Walk around Gowbarrow

Next walkWest Wales 2019 - 1 - Arrival at Abercastle

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