After breakfast at my hotel in Pooley Bridge, I walked for a minute to the bus stop and enjoyed the short drive to Aira Force. And on the short walk to the waterfall, I was greeted by this lovely elephant – aka tree.
Aira Force provides a glimpse of a landscaped Victorian park with dramatic waterfalls, arboretum and rocks scenery. The main force falls 70 feet from below a stone footbridge and is on land owned by the National Trust.
In the 1780’s 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, set among its own sporting estate. They landscaped the area around the force, and used it as a pleasure garden, planting over half a million native and ornamental trees, and established a network of tracks, footpaths and bridges.
In 1846 the Howards created an arboretum below Aira Force, planting over 200 specimen conifers (firs, pines, spruces and cedars) from all over the world, including a Sitka Spruce now 118 feet high.
Gowbrrow Park, including Aira Force, was bought by the National Trust in 1906 to save the area after it had gone on the market for housing plots. Aira Force was a well-loved subject for his poems by William Wordswort.
After a short coffee break in the cutest company, I started my walk along the Ullswater Way towards Glenridding. The Ullswater Way is a 20 miles long tour around the lake. The section between Aira Force and Glenridding is about 3 miles long and easy to manage – even I didn´t get lost or out of breath.
The Way now passes through the ancient woodland of Glencoyne Deer Park. Most famously, Glencoyne Wood was the place where, in 1802, William and Dorothy Wordsworth saw daffodils by the lakeshore. The encounter is described in detail in a celebrated entry in Dorothy’s Grasmere Journal and inspired William Wordsworth to write his most famous poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud, That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” (Ullswater.com)
Already saying hi to my ride back to Pooley Bridge, but I still had a little bit of walk before me….