Stanley Ghyll Force walk

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A short walk from Trough House Bridge through autumnal Eskdale woodland to the stunning waterfall of Stanley Ghyll Force

Dalegarth Hall car park directions

I have walked from Dalegarth Hall car park in Eskdale in the western Lake District a number of times in the past. Its the starting point for a number of great walks, not least the half mile woodland walk to Stanley Ghyll Force waterfall.

After a particularly gorgeous autumnal visit recently I thought I’d write a blog entry about the area.

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. If driving up Eskdale about two miles beyond Eskdale Green there is a building on the left (an old vicarage or school house?) and a small single lane road leading off to the right. This is the turn to take.

However what I normally do is drive further on to a coach company on the left before realising I have missed the turn! And so I turn the car round, return back down the road and turn down the lane. 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 though: 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 I haven’t had the courage/stupidity to try as the rocks are 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 I can say that one of the biggest challenges a photographer has keeping water of their camera’s 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 though. 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, there was no wind and I had the place to myself (it was midweek so that was no surprise). Perfect.

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.

River Esk at Trough House Bridge

Having visited Stanley Ghyll, its also well worth walking along the stretch of the River Esk near Trough House Bridge.

River Esk flows under arch of trough house bridge
Trough House Bridge and the River Esk

The views of the river from the bridge itself are also worth checking out.

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 particular 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 the Eskdale gallery within my collection of Lake District photography.

Stanley Ghyll Force walk was last modified: January 10th, 2022 by Gavin Dronfield

Further reading:

  • Great Gable and Green Gable from Borrowdale
    May 2015 : A day that started out in a murky Borrowdale turned out to be one the most memorable days in the Lake District fells, taking in Great Gable and sunset from Green Gable

  • Visiting Lacy’s Caves from Little Salkeld
    November 2017 : A walk along the River Eden near Little Salkeld in Cumbria to visit Lacy's Caves - a series of small caves carved into a sandstone cliff above the river

  • Great End wild camp in summer
    June 2016 : The tale of a nine mile walk from Seathwaite Farm at the head of Borrowdale in the Lake District to the summit of Great End for a great night’s wild camping

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