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Stanley Ghyll Force walk

Dalegarth Hall car park directions

I have walked from Dalegarth Hall car park in Eskdale a number of times in the past. After a particularly gorgeous autumnal day in Eskdale recently thought I’d write a blog entry about the area. Just in case its not immediately obvious the photos in this article were taken over a number of visits, all in autumn.

Eskdale is well worth a visit at any time of year as its a stunning, little valley with only a scattering of small, quiet hamlets – a great place to escape the crowds. However in autumn when the trees are ablaze with colour it really comes into its own.

The car park at Dalegarth Hall is not the easiest to find. What I tend to do is drive through Eskdale Green heading up Eskdale. On passing the coach company on the left I realise I have just missed the turn on the right. And so I turn the car round, return back down the road and take the narrow, single lane road into the woods. Its easily missed!

The short road leads over the River Esk via Trough House Bridge to a small (and free!) parking area near Dalegarth Hall.

Trough House Bridge in autumn woodland
The road over Trough House Bridge

The walk to Stanley Ghyll Force

From Dalegarth Hall car park, the way south is clearly signposted through the woodland. The path soon heads up the gorge within which the falls are found, crossing the Birker Beck ravine over a series of wooden bridges.

The walk up the path just gets better and better as the foliage gets greener and thicker. The scenery takes on an almost Jurassic feel thanks to an abundance of ferns, mosses and rhododendron. There is a price to pay for all this greenery: it is very wet and the rocks do get very slippery so care must be taken.

Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall

Eventually, after crossing a few more footbridges over the Ghyll the waterfall comes into view and the source of the sound of thundering water is seen.

Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall plunge pool in summer
Classic view of Stanley Ghyll Force

There is a well-located viewing platform from which all my photos of the falls are taken. I think it might be possible to climb down closer to the waterfall’s plunge pool but to date I haven’t had the courage/stupidity to try as it is very slippery. I’m not convinced its worth risking breaking my camera, or my leg for that matter!

Having visited here a number of times one of the biggest problems any photographer has when taking pictures is water misting up the camera lens. At least one of my previous visits here resulted in no photos whatsoever thanks to this. Luckily I have also had a few successful visits. This was not due to any wise moves on my part, just good fortune that it was a very still day.

It was on one such day in the autumn of 2015 that I paid a visit and took my favourite photos of Stanley Ghyll Force to date. Although it was autumn there was still a lot of greenery around and, as it was during the week, it was quiet and I had the place to myself. As well as taking a photo of the waterfall complete with the pool I thought I would try something different so focussed in on the top section of the falls.

It was only when processing the photos later on that I realised how much I liked this shot. In fact it is my favourite photo to date of my favourite Lake District waterfall.

River Esk at Trough House Bridge

While visiting Stanley Ghyll its also well worth walking along the stretch of the River Esk near Trough House Bridge. On my last visit the light wasn’t quite right to get a picture of the bridge from the riverside. By standing on the bridge and looking downstream I was able to get this photo though.

The deciduous woods in Eskdale are full of species such as birch, beech and oak. For my final photo I decided to concentrate on a beech tree on the riverbank. As it was part way through autumn its leaves were a mix of green, orange and yellow. A backdrop of the dark rocks on the banks of the River Esk really make them stand out.

Even though it is a long drive to Eskdale as its on the ‘wrong’ side of the Lake District for me, it is well worth the journey. My pictures from this area of the Lakes are all in my gallery of Eskdale landscape photographs.

Stanley Ghyll Force walk was last modified: July 6th, 2017 by Gavin Dronfield