Picnic spots, family walks and even the chance for a swim – Yorkshire has a waterfall for every occasion.
We all want to find the best days out in Yorkshire, and admiring thousands of gallons of water crashing down the rocks in scenic surroundings is always one of the best. Yorkshire is home to some of the most stunning waterfalls in the country. From picturesque stepped falls to roaring 100-foot cascades, these natural wonders are well worth seeking out…
The highest single-drop waterfall in England at an estimated 100 feet, Hardraw Force is a sight to behold. For any film buffs visiting, you might recognise the waterfall from Kevin Costner’s bathing scene in Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves, but the Force has also been popular with writers like Wordsworth and Turner over the years. Open all year round, the waterfall is only accessible from behind the 13th century Green Dragon Inn. You can park for free, and it’s only a short walk to the top of the falls.
Hardraw Force, The Heritage Centre, Hardraw, Hawes, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 3LZ. Entry costs £2.50 for adults, £1.50 for children and free to Under 5’s.
The Brontë Waterfalls are a series of small stepped falls on South Dean Beck, believed to have inspired the sisters’ most famous novels. Described as “a perfect torrent racing over the rocks” by Charlotte Brontë, why not watch the water roar past from nearby Bronte’s Chair? This seat-shaped stone mound is said to be where Emily Brontë sat to gaze at the waterfall and gather her thoughts to write. The waterfalls are part of a 43-mile trail from Haworth if you fancy exploring more of Brontë Country afterwards, and it leads up to Top Withens – the house from Wuthering Heights.
Bronte Waterfalls, Off Moorside Lane, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD22 9RQ.
Just a short walk from Malham village, this picturesque Yorkshire waterfall is small but mighty powerful – it carries Gordale Beck over a limestone lip before tumbling 16 feet into the deep pool below. Historically, the waterfall was named after Janet, the Queen of the Fairies, who supposedly dwells in the cave tucked behind the waterfall. In reality, the waterfall and pool are best known as a former sheep dip for local farmers, but these days you should have the stunning views all to yourself, with plenty of room for a scenic picnic.
Janet’s Foss, Gordale Lane, Malham, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DA.
Cauldron Falls is one of the Yorkshire Dales’ most accessible waterfalls. You just follow the gentle beck-side trail from West Burton to the base, which are also known as West Burton Falls. The waterfall’s nickname stems from its extremely round plunge pool, which attracts a diverse array of local wildlife. The roaring water was once sketched by J.M.W. Turner which you can now see it in the Tate Britain, so it’s well worth a visit to admire the same natural beauty as he did.
Cauldron Falls, West Burton, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4JP.
Although it’s technically in Cumbria, Cautley Spout is nestled in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, so we’re going to claim this one as our own. It’s England’s highest above-ground waterfall and Red Gill Beck tumbles 650 feet down a sheer cliff face from a plateau known as The Calf. If you’re after a walk, there’s a stone-edged track from an Iron Age settlement at the base, and the National Trust-owned Cross Keys Temperance Inn just a few steps further. Be aware though, the pub has remained alcohol-free since the 17th century, so you’ll have to quench your thirst with soft drinks.
Cautley Spout, Off A683, Low Haygarth, Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales, LA10 5NE.
Despite the name, Hull Pot is nowhere near Hull. Instead, it’s an enormous collapsed cavern right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park – and it holds the record for England’s largest natural hole at 300 feet. You’ll have to plan your visit right, as it’s only in wet weather that the sunken interior waterfall rises and crashes down into the pot – but the effect is more than worth the wait. In heavy weather, it can even overflow and cannon down the hillside too. If you’re planning to combine it with a walk, the waterfall is only a short detour from the Three Peaks trail, with parking down the road in Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
Hull Pot, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 0JF.
One of the easiest Yorkshire waterfalls to visit on this list, there’s space to park up on nearby Stockdale Lane, before you make the short walk to the top of Scaleber Woods to see the waterfall below. Hidden in a deep wooded gorge, the Force is shielded from view at a distance, so it’s only once you’re on the winding path down that the waterfall’s true beauty is revealed. In fact, the water moves so fast down the 40-foot limestone cliffs that it stays crystal clear, reflecting the light as it rushes down to the deep plunge pool at the bottom.
Scaleber Force, High Hill Lane, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD23 4BB.
Fell Beck Waterfall
Gaping Gill is Yorkshire Dales’ most famous cave, as well as one of Britain’s biggest underground chambers at 650 feet. But the enormous Fell Beck Waterfall inside isn’t anywhere near as well known. The torrent of white water pours over a lip of rock at the top of the main cavern, falling over 320 feet to the floor below at twice the height of Niagara Falls. This awe-inspiring sight is usually off-limits to everyone but the most experienced pot-holers, but there are guided trips from nearby Clapham in May and August that should be top of every waterfall fan’s bucket list.
Fell Beck Waterfall, Gaping Gill, Clapdale Lane, Yorkshire Dales National Park, LA2 8EE.
Up on the River Ure, Aysgarth’s roaring triple waterfalls have been attracting famous tourists to Yorkshire for over two centuries, from legendary poet William Wordsworth to acclaimed artists John Ruskin and J.M.W. Turner. They’re just as stunning today, with well-signposted walks offering tons of winding paths to get the best views of both the river and falls. Once you’ve drunk in the waterfall’s beauty, the Freeholders’ Wood Nature Reserve next door is great for spotting birds and deer.
Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre, Aysgarth, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, DL8 3TH.
Folly Dolly Falls
The southern-most waterfall on our list, Folly Dolly Falls is a stunning tiered torrent in a tree-shaded valley that’s well worth seeking out. Stories suggest the waterfall is named after a woman named Dolly that lived nearby and lost all her money, but no-one knows for sure. The site has been popular since the Victorian era when day-trippers would hop off the Meltham railway line to see it with a picnic. These days, it’s no longer in use, but you can still follow the trail from Meltham itself. Make sure you visit after heavy rain for the best views, as the stream swells and thunders down the falls.
Folly Dolly Falls, Meltham, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, HD9 5QN.
Barely a mile from the village of Stanforth is a hidden gem of a waterfall. Catrigg Force is nestled within a wooded gorge and the scenic falls drop 20-foot into a beautiful step pool. It’s said to have been a personal favourite of composer Edward Elgar, who made a point of visiting regularly. To replicate his walk, just follow Stainforth Beck from the village along Goat Scar Lane to find the Force tucked away in a secluded copse. If you’re looking for a family-friendly stroll, this gentle waterfall trail is one of the best.
Catrigg Force, Stainforth, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9PZ.
For a beautiful waterfall that’s incredibly easy to reach, look no further than Harmby Waterfall. Right on the edge of the village of Harmby, you’ll find a small path with a hand-painted sign that just says ‘Waterfall’. Follow the short walk down the bank into Harmby Gill Woods, where the stream comes roaring down under the bridge, before rushing over the bank in several drops and finally emptying out into a steep valley fall in a wall of water. Once you’ve taken it all in, you’ll be glad to know it’s only a short walk back up to The Pheasant Inn for a well-earned drink.
Harmby Waterfall, Harmby, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 5PA.
Split into a series of small cascades overhanging a picturesque circular pool, Lumb Falls is a little different from the other waterfalls in Yorkshire. You see, this is one beauty spot you can actually swim in. Park up at the top of the path, wander down to the falls and treat yourself to a dip in the pool or an au-naturel power shower from the waterfall. It should come as no surprise that the water is freezing, but how many times can you say you swam in a waterfall pool? Take the family and a bunch of towels for one of Yorkshire’s most fun days out.
Lumb Falls, near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8RG.
Mallyan Spout Waterfall
Forget Heartbeat, Goathland has been a hotspot of tourist activity since the 19th century because of the amazing Mallyan Spout waterfall. Victorian visitors flocked from miles around to see West Beck rushing down the 70-foot sandstone cliff, and now you can enjoy these astonishing views too. For the best experience, follow the same 3-mile route as the Victorians did from Goathland village – walking the trail to Beck Hole, alongside Carr Wood to Mallyan Spout and back again. You’d be hard pressed to find a more scenic waterfall to visit in Yorkshire.
Mallyan Spout Waterfall, Goathland, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 5AW.
East Gill Force
One of the four Keld waterfalls in Yorkshire, East Gill is popular with families and walkers alike, since it’s both close to the road and easy to get to, with parking only £2 for the whole day. The waterfall itself is split into two sections – the 15-foot upper cascade and the stepped 10-foot falls underneath. The higher section has been worn into large stone outcrops, which can be carefully climbed for a better view. Alternatively, pack a picnic and find a spot to the side of the falls where you can watch the wildlife roam to and fro, with sheep regularly visiting for a drink.
East Gill Force, River Swale, Keld, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6LJ.