How to find the electric blue waters of Ritson's Force waterfall


Posted by Sarah P on 23rd August 2023

Ritson's Force in the Lake DistrictShutterstock/Andrew Roland

It’s no secret that a waterfall provides the perfect picture backdrop – and none more so than Ritson’s Force in the Lake District. A hidden gem tucked away in the Mosedale Valley, but capturing the eye of TikTokers, the stunning waterfall boasts clear blue waters that put far-flung locations such as the Maldives to shame. 

The inviting waters get their vibrant blue hue because of rock being eroded over time, resulting in a range of rich minerals from the rock dissolving and small pieces gradually being released into the water giving it its eye-catching colour. And, despite being located in one of the Lake District’s busiest spots, the waterfall remains a well-kept secret, meaning visitors can expect nothing but peace and solitude.

For those of you wondering where you can find Ritson’s Force waterfall, we’ve curated a handy guide to tell you exactly how to get there, where to park, and even where you can stay in the Lake District. As with any walk in the Lakes, good waterproof clothing and footwear is a must – and don’t forget your swimming cossie too if you fancy a dip in the plunge pools!

Ritson's Force waterfallShutterstock/Chris Kelly

How to find Ritson’s Force waterfall

This short stroll couldn’t be more rewarding. To find this hidden waterfall, simply take a trip through the beer garden at the Wasdale Head Inn. From here, take a stroll across the stone bridge where you’ll find yourself on a path through a field. Keep an eye out for an opening in the stone wall and head through it towards the small woodland at the top of the hill. There you’ll find a gate – go through it, and you’ll soon discover the delights of Ritson’s Force waterfall. Keep an eye out for the National Trust Ritson’s Force sign and you’ll know you’ve arrived!

From this location, the views are breathtaking, and you’ll spend most of the short walk marvelling at some of England’s tallest mountains, including Scafell Pike.

Best time to visit

If there’s been heavy rainfall, the roaring water will be in full force but if you do opt to go in these conditions, it’s best to admire its beauty from the sidelines rather than take a plunge.

If you were hoping to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, we recommend visiting Ritson's Force, or any of the waterfalls in the Lake District in the summer months when there is likely to be less rainfall.

Where to eat

Given the Ritson’s Force walk starts from the Wasdale Head Inn, why not fuel up before your adventure and grab something to eat or drink there too?  With a range of options – including gluten free, veggie and vegan – there’s something for everyone. Take a look at our complete guide to places to eat in the Lake District to help plan your stay.

If planning a picnic, what could be a more beautiful spot than at Ritson’s Force itself? Pack some tasty refreshments and a blanket, and enjoy your picnic next to the water. Just make sure you take all litter home with you.

Starting point: Wasdale Head Inn (visit @thewasdaleheadinn on Instagram or visit

End point: what3words location /// poets.stirs.rosier

Walking distance from starting point: 0.2 miles

Duration: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Where to park: National Trust pay and display car park at Lake Head, north of Wastwater.

  • Postcode: CA20 1EX
  • What3words: spelling.cold.alongisde

There is also a toilet block at this car park.

Ritson's Force - hel_wils

Ritson’s Force swimming

In addition to the magical cascades, you’ll also find a number of plunge pools dotted along the river, these magical swimming holes make up the whole of Ritson’s Force, while you carry on through the rolling fields to the larger waterfalls.

As you head upstream, you’ll come to a cave pool, which is the biggest and deepest of all the pools there, the scene is undeniably beautiful as you watch the water plunge into the electric blue pools below, with an overhang just to the left which only adds to the charm.

If you’re after a more challenging hike, you can always venture up England’s tallest mountain – Scafell Pike – if you’re feeling particularly energetic!

Safety first 

While Ritson’s Force waterfall doesn’t deserve to go unmissed, safety should always come first as there can be serious risks and dangers associated with wild or cold-water swimming.

No matter the time of year, the weather in the Lake District can be very unpredictable and quickly change, so it pays to plan.

Take a friend, dress accordingly, wear the right footwear and make sure you’re taking extra care en route to Ritson’s Force waterfall, as the path may become slippery or muddy. What’s more, water temperatures and depths can vary hugely throughout the year so caution is required if going for a swim.

For more information about cold water swimming and the important steps you should take to avoid cold water shock and hyperthermia, plus much more advice, visit the RNLI and Outdoor Swimming Society websites to ensure you’ve taken the appropriate precautions.

View our guide to wild swimming in the UK

Middle Row Cottage

Where to stay to visit Ritson's Force Waterfall

Middle Row Cottage sits conveniently opposite the Wasdale Head Inn, making it the perfect spot for scaling the Lake District’s towering mountains, exploring England’s deepest lake or experiencing the natural beauty of Ritson’s Force waterfall.

Sleeping six people, this four-star cottage is just the type of place the whole family would delight in visiting and is probably one of the very few spots to enjoy Caribbean-esque waters on your doorstep, offering peace and tranquillity.

Comprising an enclosed garden with spectacular views across to Great Gable and a cosy open fire, this quaint cottage boasts comfort and convenience in equal measure and is the perfect base for your adventure.

Book Middle Row Cottage

Stay in a Lake District cottage

The Lake District is a hugely popular area for UK staycations, with a number of national parks, picturesque lakes and rambling routes throughout the region. Whether you've been inspired by the electric blue waters of Ritson's Force waterfall, you've always wanted to scale the heights of Scafell Pike or you love the idea of setting sail on one of the national park's mesmerising lakes, we have a beautiful selection of holiday cottages in the Lake District for you to choose from. 

Stay in the Lake District

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.