Lake District Waterfalls - A Photographic Guide

28th February 2013
Waterfall guide updated with additional images June 2018.

One of the biggest attractions of the Lake District for me is the number of impressive waterfalls throughout the Lakes. The waterfalls really come to life after a period of rain when the hillsides become alive with tumbling water which is quite a sight if you are used to the normal rolling hills of the English landscape. I have over the past few years visited as many of the waterfalls and forces throughout the Lake District. Access to the falls can often be difficult with the more remote falls but are always worth the scrambling and hill walking. I still have a long list of waterfalls that I would like to add to my collection of photographs and intend to tick as many of these off the list in the coming years. Through this blog I intend to share with you images of some of the waterfalls that I have photographed with a little information about each one.

Ritsons Force Waterfall in the Lake District National Park - Settings: 0.5sec ƒ/18 ISO 100 @ 10 mm
One of the first Lakeland waterfalls I visited around 10 years ago was Aira Force, this waterfalls on the south eastern end of Ullswater Lake falls nearly 20 metres down over the rocks. You can walk up the side of the falls from the National Trust car park on the shores of Ullswater and there is a footbridge at the top of the falls where you can look down the waterfall, the noise can be deafening due to the amount of water going over the falls.
Aira Force Waterfall (Taken 2007) Aira Force - 10 years later (Taken 2017)
Ritsons Force is possibly one of my favourite waterfalls in the Lake District it is situated not far from the Wasdale Head Inn, it’s not a waterfall that has been heavily photographed and you can tell that it’s not often visited with people choosing to pass this on the way to the surrounding mountain peaks. To access the lower part of the falls you need to clamber down a very wet and slippery bank (wellies advisable), once you are down the area is so peaceful. We had a great few hours at this waterfall, the summer sun periodically made its way through the trees to illuminate the crystal clear Lakeland water giving a magical feel to the area.

Ritsons Force Waterfall in Summer - Settings: 1.3sec ƒ/18 ISO 100 @ 18 mm
Colwith Force - 0.3 sec ƒ/11 @ 24mm Stock Ghyll Force - Ambleside - 0.4 sec ƒ/8 @ 24mm
Moss Force is on the road between the Newlands Valley and Buttermere and is approximately 100 metres high in total. The waterfalls form part of Moss Beck which flows off the fell of Robinson. Moss Force waterfall in the Lake District plunges in three distinct sections to form Moss Force. Access to the base of the middle falls is quite tricky and involves some scrambling (made more difficult by the wet and slimy rock face), once you are there the view up the falls is quite magical. In the winter this waterfall often freezes over and is one of the most popular Ice climbing spots in Cumbria.
Settings: 1sec ƒ/16 ISO100 @ 10mm - Polariser Settings: 0.4sec ƒ/16 ISO100 @ 10mm - Polariser
Skelwith Force falls is a dramatic waterfall where the whole river falls 15 feet down over a change in the rocks, the river that forms the waterfall is a combination of the River Brathay and Langdale Beck which have carved a dramatic passage through the rocks. Skelwith Force is situated just up river from the hamlet of Skelwith Bridge; there is another waterfall nearby Colwith Force. You can walk down to the base of Skelwith Force where there is a metal bridge which allows you to walk over the large gap in the rocks to get closer to the edge of the river. The last time I visited after a period of heavy rain the bridge was nearly under water as the rivers were so high in spate, it was quite nerve wracking being so close to the edge of such a powerful river.

Skelwith Force Waterfall - Lake District National Park - Settings: 1.6sec ƒ/16 ISO100 @ 10 mm
Sour Milk Gill in Borrowdale falls steeply down the hillside over the Seathwaite Slab down towards the farming hamlet of Seathwaite. The lung busting walk up to the falls is well worth it as the view from the waterfall down along the valley is amazing, with the steep mountain sides and the flat fields around Seathwaite Bridge. A difficult falls to photograph, most people shoot this looking along the valley, I tried to do both with mixed results.

Sour Milk Gill – overlooking Borrowdale Lake District National Park

Rydal Falls - Rydal Hall
Langstrath Falls at the crossroads at the head of the Langstrath Valley is a welcome sight after the long walk from Stonewaite. The walk to the falls in beautiful following the path up the Langstrath Beck overlooked by the Stonethwaite Fells past Black Moss Pot which is one of the most popular wild swimming areas due to its almost Olympic sized swimming area, waterfall and pools to suit all ages. The Langstrath Falls further up the valley have a great backdrop of some of the largest mountains in the Lake District.

Langstrath Beck in the Lake District National Park - Settings: 1/20sec ƒ/20 ISO 200 @ 31mm
Galleny Force near to Stonethwaite in Borrowdale is a popular spot for wild swimming. Also know as the Fairy Glen the falls form part of the Langstrath Beck, the waterfall is very picturesque and consists of a group of large and shallow pools and small falls along with the upper area where the clear Lakeland water flows over the rocks. I love the fresh blue and green colour in the water here; I intend to return in the future to really go this waterfall justice.

Galleny Force Waterfall – Stonethwaite, Borrowdale - Settings: 1/25sec ƒ/16 @ 18mm
Spout Force is quite a secluded spot and not one visited by too many tourists, Spout Force waterfall can be reached by a path through the forest, you can follow the sound of water here as it echoes down the valley. Once you get close to the falls you will find a viewing platform where you can see the waterfall in all its glory. Spout Force is on the B5292 Whinlatter Pass from Keswick to Cockermouth. Access to photograph this waterfall is quite difficult, you can shoot from the viewing platform but it’s difficult to make a pleasing shot. I waded up the river a little way to try to get closer to the falls but wasn’t able to get near so settled for a few shots of the gorge not far from the base of the falls.

Spout Force Waterfall – Lake District - Settings: 5sec ƒ/13 ISO100 @ 20mm - Polariser used
The area around the top end of Haweswater Reservoir has a huge amount of potential but isn’t visited too often due to its location in the Lake District. On the walk up Mardale Beck to Blea Water there are many waterfalls in all directions, the view up the Blea Water Back to High Street provides great view with plenty of foreground interest, and the views the other way to Harter Fell also provide an impressive backdrop to show off the Lakeland landscape.
Settings: 1/25 ƒ/20 ISO200 @ 18mm Settings: 1/10 ƒ/20 ISO200 @ 18mm

Sourmilk Gill Waterfall - tumbling down from Easedale Tarn to form Easedale Beck
White Moss Common Waterfall - found next to Rydal Water
Whilst not being a waterfall in its own right, I have to give a mention to the falls around Ashness Bridge where the Rampshaw Beck tumbles down the hillside under the most famous viewpoint in the Lake District. As one of the most popular tourist spots just outside Keswick, Ashness Bridge can become quite busy during the day however if you head up there either early morning or later on in the evening the place is deserted letting you shoot away whichever way you want to point the camera.
Settings: 1/5sec ƒ/16 ISO100 @ 20mm Settings: 3sec ƒ/22 ISO200 @ 18mm


Photo comment By Chris: Love your photos, Nick. As a photographer myself I would have appreciated details of focal length of lens, shutter speed and f stop.
Photo comment By Nick: Thanks Chris - I have added as many of the camera settings as I could find, hope you find these useful. Nick
Photo comment By AR Photography: hi mate, love your picturs, i am a amartur photographer and learning from the pro's like yourself, i like the why you put the info of what setting you used to take pic, it helps pepole like myself. thank you
Photo comment By DENNIS GOLOMBEK: Thanks! Nice resource for me for the next time I come over across the pond.
Photo comment By Dave Smith: Excellent gallery and guide.
Photo comment By Derek Robertshaw: Thanks for the picture of Skelwith force - looking on a map trying to find a location down stream to shoot up the falls and just could not see a vantage point - where you shot seems the safest. Thanks for the inspiration.
About Nick
Nick Cockman is a digital photographer from Sheffield specialising in UK Landscape and Seascape photography.

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