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A Guide to the 20 Best Lake District Waterfalls

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If you’re anything like me, you’re always happy to hike to see a good waterfall. There’s something universally compelling about the force and beauty of a waterfall, drawing us closer to nature’s raw power. In this post, I’m going to share a guide to the best waterfalls in the Lake District, a place that’s close to my heart.

Ever since I was a child, reading the Swallows and Amazons books, the Lake District has held a special fascination for me. The vivid descriptions of the lakes, mountains, and yes, the waterfalls, captured my imagination in a way that few things did. As an adult, that fascination has only grown stronger. I make it a point to visit the Lake District at least once a year, ticking off the Wainwrights one by one and kayaking whenever I get the chance.

But enough about me, let’s dive into why you’re here: the waterfalls. The Lake District is a haven for nature lovers, offering some of the most stunning waterfalls in the UK. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone who just loves a good view, this guide has something for everyone.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore 20 of the most awe-inspiring waterfalls in the Lake District, each with its own unique charm and beauty. So grab your hiking boots, and let’s get started!

Why Visit Lake District Waterfalls?

The Lake District is not just another national park; it’s a tapestry of natural wonders that come together to create an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. From the towering peaks of Scafell Pike to the tranquil waters of Crummock Water, there’s something for everyone. But today, we’re focusing on one of its most underrated attractions—the waterfalls.

Waterfalls in the Lake District are as varied as they are beautiful. Whether you’re after the thrill of seeing the UK’s highest waterfall at Scale Force, or you’re looking for a short walk leading to the serene beauty of Rydal Falls, the Lake District has you covered.

These waterfalls are not just about the spectacle of cascading water; they’re also about the journey. Many are tucked away in ancient woodlands, offering you a walk through lush greenery and a chance to reconnect with nature. Others are easily accessible, making them ideal places for family outings.

And let’s not forget the photo opportunities. From the viewing platforms at Aira Force to the base of the falls at Stanley Ghyll Force, you’ll find vantage points that offer the perfect backdrop for your next Instagram post or family photo.

So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker, a casual walker, or someone who just wants to enjoy natural beauty, the waterfalls of the Lake District are waiting for you.

How to Use This Guide

Navigating through the wealth of natural beauty in the Lake District can be overwhelming, especially if you’re visiting for the first time. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your trip.

To make your walking experience as smooth as possible, I’ve included links to the OS Maps routes for many of the 20 walks. This way, you can easily plan your journey, know what to expect, and make the most of your time in the Lake District. Whether you’re a map aficionado or new to the world of outdoor navigation, these OS Maps will be your indispensable guide on the trail.

Navigating through the Lake District’s diverse landscapes can be both rewarding and challenging. That’s why it’s crucial to have reliable mapping tools at your disposal. OS Map Routes are an invaluable resource for any walker or hiker looking to explore safely and efficiently. As one of Ordnance Survey’s Get Outside Champions, I’m proud to advocate for the use of these trusted mapping tools.

These maps come loaded with features that make them both user-friendly and incredibly detailed. Expect to find information on elevation gain, alternative routes, and points of interest, helping you plan your walk down to the last detail.

You can access these maps in various ways, including purchasing physical copies or using digital versions available on apps and websites.

To make your experience even more enjoyable, we’ve sprinkled in some of our favourite tips for photography, as well as safety tips to ensure you have a smooth adventure.

So, whether you’re planning a circular route around multiple waterfalls or focusing on a single, stunning waterfall, this guide is your go-to resource.

What to Take

Before you set off on your Lake District waterfall adventure, it’s essential to be well-prepared. Here’s a quick checklist of items you should consider bringing along:

Essentials

  • Hiking Boots: A good pair of hiking boots is crucial for navigating the rocky paths and stone steps that you’ll encounter.
  • Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is key, especially during the summer months. Bring a refillable water bottle to keep your thirst at bay.
  • Camera: You’ll want to capture the majestic waterfalls and the natural beauty surrounding them. A camera or a smartphone with a good camera is a must.
  • Snacks: Whether it’s a series of smaller waterfalls or a single-drop waterfall that you’re visiting, having some snacks like energy bars or fruit can keep you energised.
  • Map or GPS: While Google Maps can be handy for first-time visitors, a physical map or GPS device is advisable for areas with poor mobile reception.
  • Picnic Supplies: Many waterfalls have nearby picnic areas. Bring along some sandwiches, a cup of tea, or other refreshments to enjoy.
  • Swimwear: Some waterfalls are popular spots for wild swimmers. If you’re up for a dip, don’t forget your swimwear.
  • Rain Gear: The weather in the Lake District can be unpredictable. A lightweight raincoat can come in handy if you’re caught in heavy rain.
  • First Aid Kit: It’s always better to be safe than sorry. A basic first aid kit with plasters, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers is a good idea.

By packing wisely, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy your waterfall walks to the fullest, capturing the most beautiful spots and perhaps even discovering a new favourite waterfall along the way.

The Best Lake District Waterfalls


Aira Force

Aira Force is located near Ullswater, one of the Lake District’s most beautiful lakes, and one of my favourite lakes in the area. It’s easily accessible, with a National Trust car park just a short walk from the waterfall.

Aira Force is a spectacular 65-foot waterfall that cascades through a narrow gorge, surrounded by ancient woodland. The waterfall is most impressive after heavy rainfall, as the water flow increases dramatically.

While you’re in the area, consider visiting Ullswater and taking a ride on the Ullswater Steamers for some of the best views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The waterfall is a popular spot, especially during peak season. For a more tranquil experience, consider visiting in the early morning or late afternoon.

The postcode for the Aira Force car park is CA11 0JS. It’s located near Ullswater and is managed by the National Trust. The car park is quite convenient, being just a short walk away from the waterfall itself.


Scale Force

Scale Force, located near the charming Buttermere Village, holds the title for the highest waterfall in the Lake District with a staggering drop of over 170 feet. This natural spectacle is particularly awe-inspiring after periods of heavy rainfall when the water cascades down with immense force. The waterfall is set against a backdrop of lush greenery and craggy rocks, making it a photographer’s dream.

For those interested in hiking, the area around Scale Force offers a variety of walking routes. One popular option is a circular route that takes you past the stunning Crummock Water, another gem in the Lake District. These walks range from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, catering to outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.

Given its popularity, Scale Force can get quite busy, especially during peak season. If you’re looking to capture the waterfall in all its glory without the crowds, consider visiting during the early morning hours or on weekdays. Parking is available in Buttermere Village, from there it’s a moderate walk to the falls.


Holme Force

Holme Force is a lesser-known waterfall, making it a great place for those looking to escape the crowds. Located near the village of Loweswater, the waterfall is set amidst lush greenery and towering trees. The falls are accessible via a short distance from the main road, and the walk to the falls takes you through a beautiful wooded area, offering a sense of privacy and seclusion.

The waterfall itself features multiple cascades, creating a series of waterfalls that offer a unique visual spectacle. It’s especially beautiful after heavy rainfall, when the water flow increases, adding to its allure. While not as popular as other waterfalls in the Lake District, Holme Force offers an intimate experience, making it an ideal place for a peaceful outing.

Parking is available near the main road, and from there, it’s an easy stroll to the falls. If you’re looking for a hidden gem in the Lake District, Holme Force should definitely be on your list.


Rydal Falls

Rydal Falls, Lake District

Nestled within the historic Rydal Mount estate, once home to the famous poet William Wordsworth, Rydal Falls offers a tranquil setting for nature lovers. The waterfall itself is not as grand as some others in the Lake District, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm. A series of wooden bridges offer vantage points for capturing the waterfall and its surrounding woodland.

The falls are accessible via a short walk from the nearest car park, making it an ideal place for a quick visit or as part of a longer exploration of the area. The estate also features a tea room where you can enjoy some refreshments while soaking in the natural beauty of the falls and the ancient woodland that surrounds it.

If you’re visiting during peak season, it’s advisable to arrive early as the car park fills up quickly. The area around Rydal Falls also offers various circular walks, including routes that take you to other natural attractions like Rydal Grot, a fascinating cave.


Stanley Ghyll Force

Stanley Ghyll Force is a 60-foot waterfall located in the Eskdale Valley, one of the Lake District’s most picturesque settings. The waterfall is set in a narrow gorge, framed by steep cliffs and ancient woodland. The journey to Stanley Ghyll Force is part of the experience, as you’ll walk through a series of wooden bridges that crisscross the river, offering various vantage points for photography.

The waterfall is a short distance from the Eskdale Railway, making it easily accessible for those using public transport. It’s a popular spot, especially during peak season, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during weekdays or outside of peak hours.

Stanley Ghyll Force is particularly stunning after periods of heavy rainfall, when the water flow intensifies, creating a more dramatic scene. The area around the waterfall also offers opportunities for longer hikes, including routes that take you to other natural attractions in the valley.


Dungeon Ghyll Force

Dungeon Ghyll Force is located in the stunning Langdale Valley and is one of the most popular waterfalls in the Lake District. The waterfall is accessible via a moderate walk from the National Trust car park near the Sticklebarn Tavern, a great place to relax with a pint in its beer garden after your adventure.

The waterfall features a series of cascades that tumble down a rocky ravine, surrounded by lush greenery and craggy peaks. It’s an ideal place for those looking to combine a waterfall visit with a more challenging hike, as the area offers various routes, including some that take you up to the Langdale Pikes.


Stock Ghyll Force

Stock Ghyll Force is a 70-foot waterfall located just a short walk from the centre of Ambleside, one of the Lake District’s most popular towns. The waterfall is set in a wooded area, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling town. A series of wooden bridges and viewing platforms provide various vantage points to enjoy the falls and the surrounding woodland.

Stock ghyll

If you’re visiting Ambleside for shopping or dining, taking a detour to Stock Ghyll Force is highly recommended for a quick dose of natural beauty.

Parking is available in Ambleside, and from there, it’s an easy stroll to the falls. The area around Stock Ghyll Force also offers opportunities for longer walks, including circular routes that take you through the beautiful countryside.


Skelwith Force

Skelwith Force is located near the village of Skelwith Bridge and is one of the more accessible waterfalls in the Lake District. The falls are just a short distance from the main road and can be reached via an easy walk. Skelwith Force is unique in that it’s not a tall waterfall, but it’s incredibly powerful, churning through a narrow gorge with great force.

The area around the waterfall offers a variety of amenities, including cafes and shops in Skelwith Bridge. It’s an ideal place for a family outing, as the walk to the falls is suitable for all ages. The waterfall is also close to other attractions like Tarn Hows, making it a perfect stop if you’re exploring multiple sites in a day.

Parking is available near Skelwith Bridge, and the falls are well-signposted, making it easy to find your way. The area also offers several longer walking routes for those looking to extend their adventure.


Moss Force

Moss Force is located near the Newlands Valley and is a bit of a hidden gem in the Lake District. The waterfall is set amidst a backdrop of craggy peaks and lush greenery, offering a sense of seclusion and tranquillity. Unlike some of the more popular waterfalls, Moss Force tends to be less crowded, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful outing.

Moss Force Waterfall

The waterfall is accessible via a moderate walk from the nearest car park. Once you arrive, you’ll find various vantage points that offer excellent opportunities for photography. Moss Force is also close to other natural attractions, such as Buttermere and Crummock Water, allowing you to combine your visit with other outdoor activities.

Parking is available near the main road, and the area offers several longer walking routes for those looking to extend their adventure. If you’re in search of a less-visited but equally captivating waterfall, Moss Force is worth adding to your itinerary.


Sourmilk Gill

Sourmilk Gill is situated near the village of Buttermere and is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. The waterfall features a series of smaller falls that cascade down a rocky slope, creating a picturesque scene. The area around Sourmilk Gill is rich in lush greenery and offers various walking routes, including some that take you to the nearby Buttermere Lake.

The waterfall is accessible via a moderate walk from the village, and the path is well-marked, making it easy to navigate. It’s a popular spot, especially during weekends and holidays, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during weekdays.

Parking is available in Buttermere Village, and from there, it’s a straightforward walk to the falls. If you’re exploring the Buttermere area, a visit to Sourmilk Gill is a must, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and outdoor adventure.


Ritson’s Force

Ritson’s Force is located near Wasdale Head Inn, a popular stop for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. This waterfall is unique because it’s set close to a pub, allowing you to enjoy a refreshing pint after your visit. The falls are a series of cascades that flow through a wooded area, offering a tranquil setting for a leisurely outing.

The waterfall is accessible via a short walk from the inn, making it an ideal stop if you’re staying in the area or passing through. The surrounding woodland provides various vantage points for photography, and the area also offers longer walking routes for those interested in extending their adventure.

Parking is available at Wasdale Head Inn, and the waterfall is well-signposted, making it easy to find. If you’re looking for a waterfall experience that combines natural beauty with the convenience of nearby amenities, Ritson’s Force is a great choice.


Lodore Falls

Lodore Falls is located near Derwentwater and is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Lake District. The waterfall is set against a backdrop of towering fells and ancient woodland, offering a picturesque setting that has inspired poets and artists for generations. The falls are particularly popular during peak season, so if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during off-peak hours.

Lodore Falls

The waterfall is accessible via an easy walk from the Lodore Falls Hotel, which also offers parking for visitors. The hotel itself is a popular spot for afternoon tea, providing a delightful way to round off your visit. The area around Lodore Falls offers various walking routes, including some that take you to other attractions like Surprise View, a popular vantage point overlooking Derwentwater.


Whorney side Force

Whorneyside Force is a lesser-known waterfall located near the Great Langdale area. The waterfall is set amidst a backdrop of craggy peaks and offers a sense of seclusion that’s hard to find at more popular spots. The falls are accessible via a moderate walk from the nearest car park, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a more challenging hike.

The area around Whorneyside Force offers various walking routes, including some that take you to other natural attractions like Crinkle Crags. If you’re in search of a less-visited but equally captivating waterfall, Whorneyside Force is worth adding to your itinerary.


Taylor Gill Force

Taylor Gill Force is located near Seathwaite and is one of the more challenging waterfalls to reach in the Lake District. The waterfall is set in a narrow gorge and is surrounded by steep cliffs, making it an ideal destination for those looking for a more adventurous outing. The falls are accessible via a challenging hike from the nearest car park, offering a rewarding experience for seasoned hikers.

The area around Taylor Gill Force is rich in natural beauty, with various walking routes that take you through the stunning Borrowdale Valley. Parking is available near Seathwaite, and from there, it’s a challenging but rewarding walk to the falls. If you’re an experienced hiker looking for a waterfall that offers both natural beauty and a sense of adventure, Taylor Gill Force is a must-visit.


Spout Force

Spout Force is located near the Whinlatter Forest Park, making it a great addition to a day of outdoor activities. The waterfall is set amidst a wooded area, offering a peaceful retreat and a sense of seclusion. The falls are accessible via a moderate walk from the main road, making it a suitable destination for those who enjoy a bit of a challenge.

The area around Spout Force offers various walking routes, including some that take you through the beautiful Whinlatter Forest. Parking is available near the main road, and the area offers several longer walking routes for those looking to extend their adventure. If you’re looking for a waterfall that combines natural beauty with the opportunity for other outdoor activities, Spout Force is an excellent choice.


Fisher Place Gill Falls

Fisher Place Gill Falls is situated near Thirlmere, offering a tranquil setting away from the more touristy spots in the Lake District. The waterfall is set against a backdrop of lush greenery and rocky terrain, providing various vantage points for photography. The falls are accessible via a moderate walk from the nearest car park, making it an ideal spot for those looking for a more secluded experience.

The area around Fisher Gill Falls offers various walking routes, including some that take you to other natural attractions like Helvellyn. Parking is available near Thirlmere, and from there, it’s a moderate walk to the falls. If you’re looking for a less crowded but equally captivating waterfall, Fisher Place Gill Falls is worth adding to your list.


Whitewater Dash

Whitewater Dash is located near the village of Bassenthwaite and is one of the more powerful waterfalls in the Lake District. The waterfall is set in a narrow gorge and is surrounded by steep cliffs, offering a sense of adventure for those who visit. The falls are accessible from the nearest car park, and the path is well-marked, making it easy to navigate.

The area around Whitewater Dash offers various walking routes, including some that take you through the stunning Dash Beck. Parking is available near Bassenthwaite, and the waterfall is well-signposted, making it easy to find. If you’re an experienced hiker looking for a waterfall that offers both natural beauty and a sense of adventure, Whitewater Dash is a must-visit.


Rutter Falls

Rutter Falls is located near the village of Great Asby and offers a unique experience as it features an old watermill. The waterfall is set amidst a wooded area, providing a peaceful setting for a leisurely outing. The falls are accessible from the main road, and the path is well-marked, making it easy to navigate.

The area around Rutter Falls offers various walking routes, including some that take you through the beautiful Eden Valley. Parking is available near Great Asby, and the waterfall is well-signposted, making it easy to find. If you’re looking for a waterfall that combines historical interest with natural beauty, Rutter Falls is a great choice.


Tom Gill Falls

Tom Gill Falls is situated near Tarn Hows, one of the most visited spots in the Lake District. The waterfall is set against a backdrop of ancient woodland and offers various vantage points for photography. The falls are accessible from the nearest car park, and the path is well-marked, making it easy to navigate.

The area around Tom Gill Falls offers various walking routes, including some that take you to the stunning Tarn Hows. Parking is available near the main road, and the waterfall is well-signposted, making it easy to find. If you’re exploring the Tarn Hows area, a visit to Tom Gill Falls offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and outdoor adventure.


Stickle Gill

Stickle Gill is located near the village of Langdale and is a favourite among locals for its scenic beauty. The waterfall is set amidst a backdrop of craggy peaks and offers a sense of seclusion that’s hard to find at more popular spots. The falls are accessible from the main road, and the path is well-marked, making it easy to navigate.

The area around Stickle Gill offers various walking routes, including some that take you to other natural attractions like the Langdale Pikes. Parking is available near Langdale, and the waterfall is well-signposted, making it easy to find. If you’re looking for a less crowded but equally captivating waterfall, Stickle Gill is worth adding to your itinerary.


Tips for Photographing a Waterfall

Capturing the perfect shot of a waterfall can be a rewarding experience, but it does require some planning and the right techniques. Here are some tips to help you get that stunning waterfall photograph

Tips for Photographing a Waterfall
  • Use a Tripod: Waterfalls are all about movement, and to capture that silky smooth water effect, you’ll need to use a slower shutter speed. A tripod is essential for keeping your camera steady.
  • Time of Day Matters: Early morning or late afternoon offers the best natural light for waterfall photography. The softer light will help you capture more detail and avoid harsh shadows.
  • Use a Neutral Density Filter: This allows you to use a slower shutter speed without overexposing the image, giving the water that smooth, flowing look.
  • Experiment with Shutter Speed: Don’t stick to one setting; experiment with different shutter speeds to find the effect that you like the most.
  • Focus on Composition: Consider the rule of thirds, and try to include some foreground elements like rocks or foliage to add depth to your image.
  • Shoot in RAW: This will give you more flexibility in post-processing, allowing you to adjust exposure, contrast, and white balance.
  • Check the Weather: Overcast days can actually be perfect for waterfall photography as the clouds act like a giant diffuser, spreading the light evenly.
  • Be Mindful of Safety: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when you’re close to the edge of a waterfall or on slippery rocks.
  • Take Multiple Shots: Conditions can change rapidly, so take multiple shots to ensure you have a variety to choose from later.
  • Post-Processing: Don’t underestimate the power of a good edit. Tools like Lightroom or Photoshop can help you bring out the best in your waterfall photos.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lake District Waterfalls

Are the waterfalls in the Lake District free to visit?
Most waterfalls in the Lake District are free to visit, although some may require a National Trust membership or a parking fee.

Is it safe to swim near the waterfalls?
While the pools at the base of some falls may look inviting, swimming is generally not recommended due to strong currents and hidden rocks.

How do I get to the waterfalls?
Most waterfalls are accessible by car and have nearby parking. Some may require a short walk or a more challenging hike.

Are the waterfalls dog-friendly?
Many waterfalls in the Lake District are dog-friendly, but it’s always best to check specific guidelines for each location.

What is the best time of year to visit?
The waterfalls can be visited year-round, but spring and autumn offer the most pleasant weather.

Are the trails well-marked?
Most trails to the waterfalls are well-marked and maintained, but it’s always a good idea to have a map or GPS.

Can I fly a drone to capture aerial shots?
Drone usage is restricted in many areas of the Lake District National Park, so it’s essential to check local regulations.

Is camping allowed near the waterfalls?
Camping is generally not allowed close to the waterfalls, but there are many campsites in the Lake District where you can stay.

Do I need any special equipment for the hikes?
Basic hiking gear is usually sufficient, but some trails may require sturdy boots and waterproof clothing.

Are the waterfalls accessible for people with limited mobility?
Accessibility varies by location. Some waterfalls are near the main road, while others require a challenging hike.

Exploring the waterfalls of the Lake District is an experience like no other. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, there’s a waterfall in the Lake District that’s perfect for you. From the impressive height of Scale Force to the poetic inspiration of Rydal Mount, each waterfall offers its own unique charm and allure.

If you’re planning a trip to the Lake District, don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of these stunning waterfalls. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll near Skelwith Force or a more challenging hike to the tallest waterfall in the area, there’s something for everyone. And let’s not forget the lesser-known gems like Sourmilk Gill and the series of waterfalls near Eskdale Railway, which offer a sense of seclusion and natural beauty that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Remember, the Lake District is not just about Scafell Pike and William Wordsworth; it’s a land of diverse landscapes, ancient woodland, and, of course, some of the most beautiful and stunning waterfalls you’ll ever see. So pack your hiking boots, grab your camera, and set out to explore these natural wonders. You won’t be disappointed.

Make it a Weekend Adventure

There is simply too much to see and do in the Lake District to visit just for one day, so why not make it a weekend adventure and book a nearby hotel?

Booking.com

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