Tucked away in a wooded valley between Ullswater’s Watermillock and Glenridding lies the picturesque waterfall Aira Force. Aira is derived from the Old Norse words of eyrr and á, meaning gravel bank and river respectively, force being the English annunciation offors, meaning waterfall. As such the literal translation is waterfall on gravel-bank river.
The land surrounding Aira Force, Gowborrow Park, was obtained by the National Trust in 1906 and has since been landscaped, made wheelchair accessible and suitable for the thousands of tourists it attracts while maintaining its natural character and beauty. The falls were frequented by the Lakelands poet-in-residence Wordsworth and mentioned in several of his poems, notable the final verse ofThe Somnambulist:
Wild stream of Aira, hold thy course,
Nor fear memorial lays,
Where clouds that spread in solemn shade,
Are edged with golden rays!
Dear art thou to the light of heaven,
Though minister of sorrow;
Sweet is thy voice at pensive even;
And thou, in lovers’ hearts forgiven,
Shalt take thy place with Yarrow!