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Editors Choice

Scale Force Waterfall, Crummock Water, Lake District

macuser's picture

Scale Force Waterfall may not be as well known as Aira Force, but in my opinion it's equally as impressive and from a photographer's perspective a great location. Scale force is the highest waterfall in the Lake District with a single drop of 170 ft, and two others of about 20 ft. It is hidden away in a deep tree-lined gorge near Crummock Water between Ling Comb and Gale Fell on land owned by the National Trust.

The best way to access the falls is to park in Buttermere village. There are several parking areas around the village. A good one is near the Fish Inn, or there's a National Trust car park just west of the village (free to Trust members). During the summer months, parking in Buttermere is at a premium so it may be advisable to arrive early in the day.

Take the path from the Bridge Hotel signposted Scale Bridge and Scale Force. The path splits just outside Buttermere; be sure to take the right fork towards Crummock Water. If you are going the right way you will cross Scale Bridge, an attractive old humpbacked bridge (possibly another photography opportunity). Follow the path parallel to the shore of Crummock Water. There are several options at this point, and it can be difficult to tell which way to proceed. However, as long as you keep heading north along Crummock Water you will be fine. You will eventually come to a stone wall. Follow the path uphill and you will find yourself at the falls.

Within the deep gorge are two main falls. A tall, thin plume of an upper fall, and a wider, lower falls. While it is difficult to see the entire main drop at first, access to the falls is easy; there are no restraining fences. The lower waterfall is reached by just walking into the gorge. To get to the base of the upper fall, for a good, if maybe wet view, requires a small amount of climbing; it's worth it though as from there you get the best viewpoint.

Lighting can be difficult as the gorge is deep and shadowed by trees. I expect that mid to later in the day would be the best time to visit, as the sunlight should shine into the gorge. Unfortunately I only had my camera phone to take pictures, so taking long exposures was difficult. Next time I would take a tripod and ND filters to capture silky smooth water. As the waterfall is so high a wide angle lens is a must. Remember to take a cleaning cloth to wipe the spray of your lens. Unlike some of the more popular waterfalls in the Lakes, Scale Force being more remote is usually quieter, when I visited I had the place to myself - great for photography. It's a true 'hidden gem', well worth the visit!

I stayed in the YHA Buttermere youth hostel and would highly recommend it. It was very clean, the staff were friendly, the food was tasty (breakfast £5 - well worth it) and best of all it was very affordable. I would also recommend the Fish Inn for great beer and the Bridge Hotel for excellent food. The Bridge Hotel also occupies a photogenic spot and is worth a picture.

Good waterproofs and footwear is pretty much essential, but that is true of everywhere in the Lakes.

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Crummock Water

Cumbria
United Kingdom

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