On Sunday we managed to get tickets for another National Trust “property”, Aira Force. This is a magnificent waterfall in a gorge near Ullswater. We’ve been many times before and it’s always lovely scrambling through the woodland to the falls, so once again we made up a packed lunch and thermos flasks and headed north.
We’d read only the previous day that only 36% of people feel safe leaving their own homes – and most of them must have been in Cumbria that day. The roads were heaving (mostly with convoys of sports cars and motorbikes); every parking space was taken between Windermere and the Scottish border; and sadly, when we got to Aira Force it wasn’t a lot quieter there.
This in no way reflects on the National Trust. They were doing a sterling job in difficult circumstances, with pre-booked slots in the car park, a one-way system around the falls, and frequent signs urging social distancing. But many of the visitors were ignoring all three, and it’s much harder to police an area of countryside like this than it is a private estate. Many other walks lead to Aira Force, some from car parks the Trust don’t own, and there was no way they could position staff on every single way in.
It did make things tricky, though. The ground is steep and slippery and can be tough to negotiate at the best of times. Trying to do it at speed with an entire extended family tramping on our heels was uncomfortable and at times downright dangerous. And it proved impossible to keep 6 feet away from everyone on such narrow paths.
We enjoyed the fresh air and the scenery, and the chance to stretch our legs, and our sandwiches, eaten perched on a fallen tree some way from the path. But overall it was a lot less enjoyable than our earlier trip to Sizergh, and we won’t be venturing back to that area, especially on a Sunday, for the foreseeable future.
I didn’t take any photos this time either. The water levels, although better than we expected, were still low after all the dry weather. And there were just too many damn people about. So the picture above is from a previous visit, when it was both wetter and quieter!
We’ve taken up kayaking. You’re guaranteed to be six feet away from everyone else!
Ha! Yes, that’s one way to keep people at bay, with the pointy end of a kayak!
And the paddle!
With specially sharpened blades, perhaps!