8 beautiful waterfalls in the Lake District

Days out, Nature, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Kate W on 2nd February 2021

Beautiful waterfalls in the Lake District

Pouring & roaring, & whirling & curling, & leaping & creeping, & sounding & bounding, & clattering & shattering, with a dreadful uproar, – & that way the water comes down at Lodore. - Robert Southey, ‘The Cataract of Lodore’

It may come as no surprise that a place like the Lake District, already overflowing with beautiful bodies of water, hides a whole selection of crashing waterfalls waiting to be discovered.

From the heights of Taylor Gill Force to the wonders of meandering Ritson's Force, it seems there are never-ending chances to stumble across a magical Lake District waterfall. Pull on your hiking shoes to enjoy a waterfall walk, a wonderful chance to explore the hidden places in the scenic Lake District, or settle down at the bottom of these mighty waters to snap photos and enjoy a picnic with an idyllic backdrop.

A waterfall walk is a brilliant way to discover the Lake District, whether you have dogs in tow, are a family with active children looking to get out and about, or you're in a couple or adult group and want to enjoy a peaceful stroll or energetic hike with a fantastic waterfall as the well-deserved reward at the end of the footpath. Plan your visit for after heavy rain and you'll discover these magnificent Great British waterfalls at their very best. 

Take a look through the selection of incredible natural sights below before heading off on a break to uncover these magical waterfalls in the Lake District.

Lake District retreats

Rydal Falls

Rydal Falls - the photogenic one

An iconic waterfall in an unforgettable location; Rydal Falls simply must be one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Lakes.

Countless beautiful images can be found online often showcasing the same layout: green lush foliage framing the photo, a crumbling hut and gleaming stream in the foreground and, of course, the crashing white waters of Rydal Falls itself. It’s a truly idyllic place to visit.

This exquisite area provided inspiration for the renowned Lake District poet, William Wordsworth, who lived in nearby Rydal Mount - now open to the public to investigate, and one of the top things to do in the Lake District

The 17th-century mansion of Rydal Hall also sits in the village and the vast body of water that is Rydal Water awaits walkers and swimmers as this ‘lake’ is a wild swimming hotspot.

Escape to Rydal

Stanley Ghyll Force

Stanley Ghyll Force - the picturesque one

If you’re hunting down something more impressive, head to the epic Stanley Ghyll Force.

No less beautiful than Rydal Falls, although perhaps slightly more rugged, it’s an incredible 60 feet high with a dramatic drop to a narrow gorge. Rhododendrons have overtaken part of the surrounding area, adding to the allure of this spot.

If you’re thinking of a trip to this phenomenal sight, one of the best places to stay is Coniston, 22 miles away. This village offers a wonderful choice of amenities and sits beside tranquil Coniston Water, making for a top-notch holiday destination.

The waterfall is out of the way in a remote Lake District spot and you can reach it via a walking route from Eskdale if you’d like to stretch your legs on the way to this hidden gem.

Cottages in Coniston

Stock Ghyll Force

Stock Ghyll Force - the accessible one

A little closer to civilisation, less than a mile from the quaint and characterful village of Ambleside, you’ll find this magical Lake District waterfall.

Stock Ghyll Force is easy to find as it’s just a short walk from Ambleside, yet also easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. Follow the red arrows along the trail which passes several mini falls along the route as well as the incredible Stock Ghyll Force itself.

The meandering Stock Ghyll river passes through Ambleside itself before joining with other rivers that will eventually flow into nearby Windermere.

Besides visiting the crooked Bridge House, Armitt Library & Museum Centre, and Wray Castle, you can also hop aboard a boat for a cruise across the sparkling waters of beautiful Windermere - many cruises allow playful pups aboard too if you are holidaying with your family dog.

Retreat to Ambleside

Ritsons Force

Ritson's Force - the remote one

Combine a trip to this series of exquisite waterfalls with a visit to magnificent Scafell Pike, as this beauty spot is just half a mile away from the base of this famed UK mountain.

During the waterfall walk, you’ll come across varying heights as there’s a nice selection of pretty waterfalls to discover, while the cosy welcoming pub, Wasdale Head Inn, awaits weary travellers and is just the place to crash after all that exploration.

Ritson’s Force is another on our list, like the epic Stanley Ghyll Force, that is hidden out in a remote area of the Lake District, so we’d suggest a stay 24 miles away in Skelwith Bridge.

This small, traditional village is beautifully located just 5 miles from Rydal and Ambleside, which both offer their own scenic waterfalls for you to visit, yet Skelwith Bridge is quieter and more secluded, offering a tranquil holiday getaway close to a few of the most beautiful waterfalls of the Lake District.

Hide out in Skelwith Bridge

Scale Force Waterfall

Scale Force Waterfall - the giant one

Now we come to the highest waterfall in the Lake District – Scale Force, which is often cited as a remarkable 170 feet high. Visit and gaze in awe on this incredible natural phenomenon.

Why not take in this wonderful sight and enjoy a peaceful walk around the outskirts of the glittering waters of Buttermere? This walking route offers you the chance to take in both beautiful landmarks as you explore the area.

The ancient and exquisite Buttermere Valley provides excellent walking country, making the perfect holiday destination for families with dogs too. If you enjoy long strolls or hikes into the wilderness, this is just the place for you and your guests.

Stay in a cosy cottage in a secluded spot in Buttermere for a walking holiday, uncovering the sights and sounds of this wild corner of the Lake District.

Stay in Buttermere

Lodore Falls

Lodore Falls - the poetic one

The forceful falls that inspired Robert Southey’s poem, The Cataract of Lodore, crash down over huge boulders although, after dry spells of weather, this waterfall is reduced to a gentle stream that trickles through the forest.

If you’re planning on seeing this beautiful waterfall during your Lake District holiday, think about staying in Keswick. Lodore Falls is located down at the southern end of Derwentwater, while the bustling market town of Keswick, full of museums and galleries, shops and cafes, is to the north of the great body of water and just 3.5 miles away.

Escape to these inspirational falls during your Lake District break and take in the pouring & roaring, & whirling & curling that Robert Southey once stood and watched.

Cottages in Keswick

Aira Force

Aira Force - the famous one

Quite possibly one of the most famous and most-visited waterfalls in this national park, beautiful Aira Force is cared for by the National Trust which has a welcome centre and has set up a wonderful trail compete with crooked wooden signs for you to follow.

Explore the Aira Force and Gowbarrow Trail through woodland and the confined gorge, passing the crashing waters of Aira Force and eventually reaching the summit of Gowbarrow where a breathtaking view over Ullswater awaits.

Drop by the dog-friendly tearoom after your time exploring the picturesque forested landscape and unwind with a cream tea. Any children who still have energy to burn can hop over tree stumps and logs in the natural play area.

Relax in Ullswater

Taylor Gill Force

Taylor Gill Force - the powerful one

Finally, let's end on another absolutely epic and beautiful waterfall that’s often overshadowed by its peers.

Taylor Gill Force is located near the peaceful hamlet of Seathwaite, a place that has been named as the wettest place in the UK by the Met Office. Usually, this would put off holidaymakers, but that unique reason is what draws many travellers and adventurers to this waterfall every year.

The excessive rain offers plenty of opportunities to see this incredible waterfall at its best, with a tremendous amount of water crashing down the mountainside, spray misting the air and the sound of thunder reverberating around the immediate locale – it’s an incredible experience.

You may wish to visit but not stay in the rainiest place in the UK so instead, pick out a holiday cottage in Hawkshead, 30 miles away and one of the favourite holiday haunts of travellers to the Lake District.

Hawkshead is close to iconic Windemere and bustling – it also has a few fun attractions to ensure the rest of your trip is a hit including the Beatrix Potter Gallery and Chocolate Factory.

Escape to Hawkshead

Lake District waterfalls on a map

Discover these beautiful Lake District waterfalls

Start planning your retreat to this incredible national park to discover any one of these beautiful Lake District waterfalls.

We have a wonderful collection of holiday cottages throughout the Lake District that are perfect for families on a back-to-nature break, couples planning a romantic getaway and big groups in need of a large property full of entertainment to ensure every guest has a fantastic trip.

Where would you like to stay? Browse through our collection of Lake District holiday cottages and book an unforgettable break, complete with a visit to a beautiful waterfall.

Lake District retreats

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.