Sunday, 1 February 2009

Aira Force

As winter’s icy grip is finally released from the high fells, the becks fill with clear, cold meltwater, and rush down to replenish the waiting lakes below. The bravest flowers of Spring now push through to brighten the lengthening days. First come the white drifts of snowdrops, which at length give way to colourful crocus, and earliest daffodils.

Cool conditions call for brisk, warming walks... Explore Aira Force on the banks of Ullswater, and you will discover one of Lakelands greatest gems. This spectacular waterfall is surrounded by a huge arboretum- Victorian gardening on a vast scale with thousands of broadleaves and hundreds of now enormous specimen conifers lining the steep sided valley and streamside walks.

Follow the path as it winds its way up through this wonderful ‘natural’ woodland. Don’t miss my highlights on the way... The base of a monkey-puzzle tree whose ancient bark seems to have sagged down, like the leathery surface of a gigantic stump footed dinosaur. See also the vast fallen tree trunk which has half a hundredweight of old coins irretrievably jammed in its every crack.

On up to Aira Force itself, seen best from the old packhorse bridge spanning the spectacular, seventy foot waterfall as it drops near vertically down to the icy plunge pool below.

Lakes poet, William Wordsworth, knew and loved this place too- his most famous lines on ‘Daffodils’ were inspired at Glencoyne Bay, just a stone’s throw away.

This garden of vast proportions was thankfully saved for the nation by the National Trust in 1906 when shockingly it was to be sold for housing plots! Now its thoughtfully provided with all the essentials for a great day out- Parking, toilets, information, and best of all a warm and welcoming tea room to refresh you on your return.

We may not have a thousand acres to play with, like the great garden makers of the past, but having visited Aira Force, we will return to our own small plots enriched and inspired having shared their vision of the true Spirit of Lakeland.

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