May the Force be With You!
Taking up Mark Gordon Brown's Travel and Tourism challenge once again, this is the tale of Stock Ghyll Force, a natural wonder near Ambleside in the Lake District, UK.
- From Windermere to Ambleside - the Beginning
- Stock Ghyll - a Babbling Brook Upstream
- The Wonderful Weir of Stock Ghyll
- Stock Ghyll - the Summit
- Summing up the Stock Ghyll Trail
- Details and Important Links
From Windermere to Ambleside - the Beginning
Taking the open-air tourist bus from Bowness to Ambleside, our quest, as part of our week-end break staying at the lovely Coppice Guest House between Windermere and Bowness, was to reach the top of Stock Ghyll Force.
Stock Ghyll, we were told, is a pretty little waterfall just outside Ambleside. Oh, but they told us wrong. I was expecting ‘small’, we got ‘mighty’ - I was expecting ‘cute’, we got magnificent: a force to be reckoned with.
Stock Ghyll - a Babbling Brook Upstream
There’s an alleyway between Barclays Bank and the Market Hall (now a restaurant). Turn left along a lane, Stock Ghyll should come into sight within a few yards. The road follows by the side of the tree-lined park. We entered Stock Ghyll Park just past the sign for ‘Waterfall’ and climbed Stock Ghyll Lane to where a metal gateway leads into Stock Ghyll Park on the left.
Following Stock Ghyll’s babbling brook upstream (a tributary of the River Rothay), we encountered ferns and wild garlic galore. We’d missed the glorious early spring-time display of wild daffodils in the Park by a couple of months.
But we weren’t short of seeing the last of the beautiful lilac and red blooms of Rhododendron bushes. And there were foxglove, meadowsweet, forget-me-nots and speedwell, red and white clover on show in huge carpets as we climbed higher upstream. It was a breathtaking sight.
Although there was birdsong from high in the oak and ash, birch and sycamore, it was a big disappointment that we didn’t spot even one bird close enough to identify: though the literature does boast the presence of the spotted flycatcher in Stock Ghyll Park. You, dear readers, may be more fortunate than we!
The Wonderful Weir of Stock Ghyll
We thought we were nearing the top of the waterfall when we came upon an enormous curtain of water, falling in thunderous sheets of glistening waves downward – but that turned out to be the weir.
What a sight it was. I wanted to get really close to the weir, so I had to go backside first down a steep bank that was covered in wild garlic. The scent of the garlic, as I crushed it with my rear-end, was moutherwatering!
My ears were accosted by the deafening roar at the bottom of the bank - but it was worth it: the vision of this huge blanket of sparkling water falling ever down was unbelievable.
Stock Ghyll - the Summit
Our walk, continuing upward, brought us to the summit where the noise of the waterfall is like the roar of a pride of lions – and the sight is so spectacular. The waterfall at the summit is split into two, tumbling down in a series of falls that can only be described as mind-blowing.
The viewpoints at Stock Ghyll are so well-situated that you can almost touch the spray as the waterfall crashes and booms down on its seventy-foot journey to the pool below. The xperience is awe-inspiring.
Many years ago, there were twelve watermills driven by the power of Stock Ghyll and other local becks, helping in the manufacture of bobbins, processed fabrics, paper and ground corn.
Summing up the Stock Ghyll Trail
The Stock Ghyll Force walk is about a two and a half mile round trip.
You don’t need any special gear for this extraordinary walking experience – just a pair of sensible shoes. And I used a hiking stick: very handy it was too – though sliding down the muddy banks and clambering back up is the really fun part!
The walk attracts thousands of visitors every year. And it’s well worth a sight-seeing and hiking tour if you're ever in the Lake District.
After visiting the enthralling Stock Ghyll, we made our way back to the centre of Ambleside for a well-deserved drink and a pub lunch. Ambleside is such a pretty country town.
Next on our agenda was a riverside walk to visit the Roman Fort ‘Galava’ then over toward the barrow and on to Waterhead to get wind-blown on the open-topped bus back to Windermere and ‘home’ to the Coppice Guesthouse. But that’s another story for another day – another article, perhaps!
Details and Important Links
For The Coppice Guesthouse, Windermere, visit:
For a detailed walk around Stock Ghyll and other walks around Ambleside, visit:
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