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The Complete Guide to the Yorkshire Dales - Top 30 Waterfalls
The geology of the Yorkshire Dales is perfect for supporting waterfalls. The unique landscape is a result of the area's geololical history with much of the Yorkshire Dales National Park covered in carboniferous limestone which is interspersed with shales, gritstones and sandstones. Natural landshift which created the topography of the area during the great ice age and subsequent erosion of the softer stones has caused rivers and becks to form waterfalls all over the dales. Some are little more than a few inches high, many less than the height of an adult person. Yet there are many many spoectacular waterfalls to be found. Some are solitary like Hardraw Force, the highest of them all and some part of a series of cascades like the ones at Aysgarth Falls. In this section I present my top 30. These are from my personal experiences while walking in the Yorkshire Dales. With each description I provide their source and the river those first trickles flow into with details on how to get to them when walking. This includes a precise OS map reference. You must try to visit some of them on your next walking expedition into the Yorkshire Dales.

Aysgarth Falls Aysgarth Falls

Source: River Ure
River: Ure
Grid Reference: SE014887

Surely anyone who knows anything about the Yorkshire Dales knows about Aysgarth Falls. They are the most visited of all in the Dales because of their location, close to the A684 Wensleydale arterial road. Aysgarth Falls is a series of cascading falls separated into three forces, High, Middle and Low. High Force is the most vivacious of the group whereas Middle Force had the largest single drop of around 2 metres. Low Force is the most serene.

Beezley Falls Beezley Falls

Source: River Doe
River: Doe
Grid Reference: SD705746

Beezley Falls is part of a series of waterfalls close to Ingleton and are part of the very popular 'Ingleton Waterfalls Walk' which comes second only to Aysgarth Falls in terms of visitors. Beezley Falls are a triple spout system and the further upstream of two systems of waterfalls on the River Doe section of the walk. There is an admission charge for doing the walk - £7.00 families, £3.50 per adult, £1.50 per child (2005 prices)

Catrake Force Catrake Force

Source: River Swale
River: Swale
Grid Reference: NY892013

Catrake Force is one of a series of dramatic waterfalls on the River Swale near to the village of Keld. I find this series which also includes Kisdon Force more dynamic than Aysgarth Falls. However they are not as accessible which is good for walkers seeking peace and quiet when seeking out the dramatic views of the waters are they tumble down the young unpstream River Swale. This series is particularly dramatic after heavy rain.

Catrigg Force Catrigg Force

Source: Stainforth Beck
River: Ribble
Grid Reference: SD832671

Catrigg Force is an absolute gem. The waterfall is hidden from view in a small secluded copse one mile upstream of Stainforth village. The main waterfall (there is a series of smaller ones in the copse further down) has a vertical drop of about 6 metres into a lovely step pool. The walk to the Force is easy along a bridleway from the village but for a much more interesting walk I recommend you do the one I describe in my Yorkshire Dales pages.

Cautley Spout Cautley Spout

Source: Swere Gill/ Red Gill
River: Rawthey
Grid Reference: SD681975

If Catrigg Force is a hidden gem then Cautley Spout is an wide open gem. It is without the most dramatic of sights for any walker approaching the Howgill Fells from the south east. Dramatic pictures of Cautley Spout and how to get there can be found on my walks pages. Cautley Spout is a long series of waterfalls tumbling for over 200 metres off the fells. The spectacle of Cautley Spout is not to be missed and is best viewed on approach.

Clapham Falls Clapham Falls

Source: Clapham Beck
River: Wenning
Grid Reference: SD746695

Clapham Falls are located in the north of the village and fall just after Clapham Lake and are clearly be seen from the road by walkers leaving Clapham who are bound for Ingleborough via Ingleborough Cave and Trow Gill but you will have to look over to your right if the weather is set fair for only in wet conditions can their roar by heard to catch your ear and turn your head. There are lots more opportunities to see smaller falls in the beck later.

Cote Gill Waterfall Cote Gill Waterfall

Source: Cote Gill
River: Skirfare
Grid Reference: SD933692

I came across Cote Gill Waterfall purely by chance during a walk in the Littondale area. It is not marked on any maps and I feel that is a travesty because it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have come across in the Yorkshire Dales. See my walk to view more pictures of this beautiful 4 metre drop waterfall where water from the fells cascade into a beautiful turquoise tinged clear water drop pool. Easily found by path from Arncliffe Cote.

Cotter Force

Source: Cotterdale Beck
River: Ure
Grid Reference: SD848920

Cotter Force is a lovely secluded waterfall. It is a step series of about half a dozen waterfalls with the largest single drop being about 5 feet. The force widens as it descends being only a couple of feet wide at the top and about 15 feet wide at the bottom. The waterfalls are easily reached via a purpose designed path from the side of the A684 at Holme Heads Bridge situated two miles west by road travelling from Hawes.

Currack Force Currack Force

Source: Stonesdale Beck
River: Swale
Grid Reference: NY888016

Currack Force is one of the the series of waterfalls on the source of the River Swale near Keld where erosion has resulted in rock steps and drop pools. Situated at the terminus of Stonesdale Beck just prior to falling into the Swale this series of waterfalls is often viewed by Coast to Coast walkers as they emerge off the Pennine Watershed into Keld. Access to view Currack Force is very easy as there are paths all around the waterfalls.

East Gill Waterfall East Gill Waterfall

Source: East Gill
River: Swale
Grid Reference: NY896011

I have been to East Gill Waterfall a few times. The first time was during the Coast to Coast Walk in 1994. It left such an impression that I've revisited it on most of the occasions I've walked nearby as there is easy access from a path from the bottom of Keld village. The waterfall is a popular picnic spot for families because of its close proximity to the roadside thus making the walk not too difficult for children the elderly. A lovely waterfall it is too.

Force Gill Force Gill Waterfall

Source: Force Gill
River: Ribble
Grid Reference: SD758820

Force Gill Waterfall has been seen more times than most in the Yorkshire Dales yet seldom visited. This is because it is close to the Three Peaks Walk between Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside, a tough uphill section where most people are more concerned with simply getting to the top. That's a shame for the waterfall with its 6 metre verticle drop is one of the best of all in the dales. Being close to the path it is easily reached by a short detour.

Gordale Scar Waterfalls Gordale Scar Waterfalls

Source: Gordale Beck
River: Aire
Grid Reference: SD915641

Gordale Scar is a very popular place and you will often find people attempting to clamber up the lower of the two waterfalls in the scar. The area around Gordale and Malham is the most visited area in the entire park so don't expect to be alone if you visit. The reasons for the scar's popularity are evident as you round the gorge to the scar from Gordale Bridge. It is one of those awesome sights you will never forget. An inspiring place to be.

Hardraw Force Hardraw Force

Source: Hardraw Beck
River: Ure
Grid Reference: SD869916

The largest of all in terms of single drop and reputedly the biggest in England Hardraw Force is also famous for being the location of Kevin Costners bathe in Robin Hood. Hardraw Force plunges water from Hardraw Beck over 30 metres (100 feet) over a rocky overhang. Hidden in a copse the waterfall is only accessible via the Green Dragon pub in Hardraw for a £2 entrance fee (2005). Take note - the waterfall can be a trickle in dry weather.

Hellgill force Hellgill Force

Source: Hell Gill Beck
River: Eden
Grid Reference: SD778965

Hell Gill Force in Mallerstang accommodates water taken from the High Seat range of hills in the north west of the Yorkshire Dales. The waterfall is actually in Cumbria. The waterfall is often visited by walkers exploring the hills around Wild Boar Fell and can easily be reached by path. As it is also close to the road motorists can easily visit by walking just 250 metres. The waterfall is a single drop fall of approximately 8 metres (25 feet).

Janet's Foss Janet's Foss

Source: Gordale Beck
River: Aire
Grid Reference: SD911633

The small waterfall of Janet's Foss is a popular place for families to visit as it is conveniently situated next to the roadside between Malham and Gordale Bridge. In past times the pool below the waterfall was a sheepwash for local hill farmers. A good spot too, on the road to market to get the sheep looking their best. The Foss is a single drop waterfall of about 4 metres. Oh, Janet was a local fairy who lived in a cave behind the waterfall. Really!

Kisdon Force Kisdon Force

Source: River Swale
River: Swale
Grid Reference: NY898010

The Kisdon Force series of waterfalls are located 600 metres downstream of Keld village. This is a particularly aggresive part of the river as there are a number of other falls in the vicinity. None of the falls are dramatic drops but a cascading series popular with canoeists. This is an set of waterfalls of which I have special memories as I met a litter of stoats walking down to them once. They are easily reached on a riverside path from Keld.

Linton Falls Linton Falls

Source: River Wharfe
River: Wharfe
Grid Reference: SE001633

Linton Falls are in one of those places that attracts gosts of visitors. The falls are located just south of Grassington in Wharfedale and can be easily walked to from this most popular village by a short stroll down Sebber Lane. There is a footbridge straddling the falls so viewing their beauty is exceptionally easy. The north bank of the river is always busy with families on a pleasant summers day as the gentle grassy area makes a splendid picnic spot.

Mill Gill Force Mill Gill Force

Source: Mill Gill
River: Ure
Grid Reference: SD939915

Mill Gill near Askrigg in Wensleydale has a number of waterfalls along its short routebetween Whitfield Beck and Paddock Beck en route into the River Ure. The Force is hidden in woodland 1km west of Askrigg and can be reached by following a road west from the village before crossing a field and then walking in the wood alongside the Gill. The Force is best visited in a double adventure by also visiting Whitfield Gill Force (see below).

Pecca Falls Pecca Falls

Source: River Twiss
River: Twiss
Grid Reference: SD695749

Pecca Falls is one of the waterfall groups on the Ingleton Waterfalls Walk (see Beezley Falls). They are a group of three separate drops cascading into their own pools which make a lovely sight. I've often stopped at the falls during a walk to enjoy their company. The woodland around Pecca Falls is preserved by the Woodland Trust and it is a beautiful place. Pity about the fee to get in but the Waterfalls Walk is a gem not to be missed.

Posforth Gill Waterfall Posforth Gill Waterfall

Source: Posforth Gill
River: Wharfe
Grid Reference: SE078565

Posforth Gill takes water from Barden Fell to the River Wharfe via the Valley of Desolation. This is a popular walking area for it is the closest part of the dales to the conurbations of West Yorkshire. I've walked from Bolton Abbey through the valley onto Barden Fell and across to Simon's Seat many times and often stayed by the falls. Incidentally there is another secluded unnamed waterfall further up the valley at SE081569 that deserves a visit.

Scaleber Force Scaleber Force

Source: Scaleber Beck
River: Ribble
Grid Reference: SD841625

Scaleber Force is convenienly situated by the road side (Settle to Airton) so nobody needs walk more than a few yards to view the waterfall. As with many waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales its a surrounded by a small copse. The drop on the waterfall is around 20 feet. The best option to include the waterfall with a decert walk is from Malham Tarn to Settle via Langscar Gate then Stockdale Lane rather than the usual route past Attermire Scar.

Stainforth Force Stainforth Force

Source: River Ribble
River: Ribble
Grid Reference: SD818671

Stainforce Force is a beautiful small waterfall on the River Ribble situated just west of the village of Stainforth. As the waterfall so close to the village, and a caravan park and also on the Ribble Way it is a well visited beauty spot and like many others close to roads and villages it is a favourite spot for family picnics. The waterfall begins as a series of small cascades followed by a final slightly larger one of approximately 4 feet.

The Strid The Strid

Source: River Wharfe
River: Wharfe
Grid Reference: SE064565

The Strid is a deceptive series of waterfalls caused by the dramatic narrowing of the River Wharfe. Placid when dry weather prevails they soon become a dangerous torrent after rain. In the dry the foolhardy can leap across the river at the narrowest point but it not advised as people have perished here, most notably a newly married couple a few years ago. The Strid walk is very popular and walked from the car park at Bolton Abbey

Swinner Gill Waterfall Swinner Gill Waterfalls

Source: Swinner Gill
River: Swale
Grid Reference: NY910007

There are two premier waterfalls in Swinner Gill and a number of small stepped drops. The gill is a splendid place enclosed on both sides by steep banks. The larger waterfall (pictured) is 250 metres from the head of the gill and the other is near the disused Swinner Gill Lead mines. Coupled with a walk up Gumnerside Gill this makes for a superb half day walk in Upper Swaledale. It is one of my favourite Swaledale walks.

Thornton Force Thornton Force

Source: River Twiss
River: Twiss
Grid Reference: SD695753

Thornton Force is in a really beautiful corner of the River Twiss. The drop from the force is about 20 feet and the water cascades down over 330 million year old carboniferous Great Scar limestone onto Ordovician sandstone rock some 170 million years older. Visited as part of the Ingleton Waterfalls Walk it can also be reached without paying a fee via Twistleton Scar and Ravenray Footbridge.

Uldale Force Uldale Force

Source: River Rawthey
River: Rawthey
Grid Reference: SD729965

Like many other waterfalls in this list Uldale Force hides from obvious view in a rocky bowl and has to be sought out. It is the jewel of a series of waterfalls that feature on the juvenile River Rawthey as it races off Baugh Fell to the gentler flows after Rawthey Bridge. Uldale Force usually roars so you will know when you are getting close. The easiest access is on the path from Rawthey Bridge although diehards can come from off the fell.

Wain Wath Force Wain Wath Force

Source: River Swale
River: Swale
Grid Reference: NY884015

Upstream of Keld the River Swale is still in its infancy at Wain Wath Force. The river is created by the merging of of Birkdale Beck and Great Sleddale Beck as they tumble off the Pennine Watershed. The force is a series of small stepped drops. They can be easily viewed from the roadside on the Keld to Tan Hill road. They often provide the inspiration for a photograph for Coast to Coast walkers who pass the force on their epic journey.

Waterfall Gill Waterfall Gill

Source: Waterfall Gill Beck
River: Aire
Grid Reference: SD985568

Embsay Moor in the south east of the Yorkshire Dales is a wide open expanse, much of it featureless. However it holds some interest for walkers like Rylstone Cross and Cracoe War Memorial. Water bleeds off the fell rather than flows as most is captured by the Barden reservoirs and transported off the moor in underground pipes. Thus the waterfall at Waterfall Gill is a delightful exception and although small it is a lovely spot on a barren moor.

West Burton Falls West Burton Falls

Source: Walden Beck
River: Ure
Grid Reference: SE019867

West Burton Falls (also known locally as Cauldron Falls) are easily reached by walking to the north end of the village and standing on the footbridge. The path that leads off from the footbridge into the country takes one closer to the falls but they are secluded by woods after a while. The falls are often benign and only reach the force shown in the picture after substantial rainfall. There are many walks to enjoy around West Burton.

Whitfield Gill Force Whitfield Gill Force

Source: Whitfield Gill
River: Ure
Grid Reference: SD934922

Whitfield Gill Force can be found upstream of Mill Gill (see above) although the watercourse now bears a different name. It is deeply hidden in the woodland of Whitfield Gill Plantation but fortunately there is a path leading to the waterfall which is signed. The force is impressive and as with all waterfalls best viewed after recent rain.The single drop is about 5 metres. There are other smaller waterfalls to enjoy as you walk through the wood.

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