Get ready to be blown away by these natural wonders that make Yorkshire the place to tap into your adventurous side.
Yorkshire is the best place to seek out natural wonders. From cascading waterfalls to incredible caves, you’re spoilt for choice. This is nature at its finest and it makes for a great day out, but during the pandemic, it’s best to try to go at less popular times or be prepared to turn back if it’s too busy when you get there. Whether you’re a hardcore adventurer or fancy a fun day out with the family, get your big coats on and step outside to discover the most breathtaking natural landmarks of God’s Own Country.
Brimham Rocks is a collection of weird and wonderful rocks formed 320 million years ago. A combination of glacial processes and natural weathering has worn away the softer layers of rock, leaving bizarre shapes across a 50-acre spread of moorland. You can see familiar shapes like the Dancing Bear and the Turtle, alongside gravity-defying formations, like the Idol, a huge boulder that rests on a tiny plinth.
Brimham Rocks, North Moor Road, Summerbridge, HG3 4DW.
Spurn Point is a tidal island that stretches out from the breathtaking Holderness Coast like an elongated tongue. On the three and a half mile walk out to its furthest tip, you’ll pass mudflats, aged sand dunes and chalk grassland, which is home to the common lizard and wheatear birds. Once you reach the end, you can soak up the stunning views across the Humber and out towards the North Sea.
Spurn National Nature Reserve, Kilnsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU12 0UH.
White Scar Cave
White Scar Cave is the longest show cave in Britain. You’ll pass prehistoric mud pools, spectacular underground waterfalls and bizarre cave formations like the superstitious Witch’s Fingers. Eventually you’ll reach the Battlefield Cavern, which is 100-foot deep in some places. Look up to check out the thousands of stalactites that hang from above and look down to see just as many stalagmites scattered on the floor of the cave.
White Scar Cave, Carnforthm, North Yorkshire, LA6 3AW.
Cow and Calf Rocks
Cow and Calf Rocks are an imposing outcrop and small boulder formation found on Ilkley Moor, famously likened to a large cow and its baby calf. The rocks that stand there today were originally sand, which was deposited over 320 million years ago, and now they draw in eager climbers all year round. You can head out on a walk across the picturesque moor to reach it and end your trip with well-deserved refreshments at The Cow and Calf pub opposite.
Cow and Calf Rocks, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 8BT.
Malham Cove is one of Yorkshire’s most intriguing natural phenomenons and it attracts climbers from all over the world. This huge chunk of limestone is believed to have been covered in glacial ice sheets, which shattered the rock to form the cracks on the famous limestone pavement at the top. You can reach it with a steep climb and will be met with stunning views over the Dales once you get there. You might lucky on your visit, because every now and again, it becomes the highest single drop waterfall in England.
Malham, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DJ.
Gaping Gill is one of Britain’s largest underground cave chambers and is a truly spectacular sight. But the real star of the show is Fell Beck, a breathtaking waterfall that hurtles down from 100 metres above, before it drains out through Ingleborough Cave. Want to take your visit to the next level? You can descend from this great height with a potholing experience, if you dare.
Gaping Gill, Clapdale Lane, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Clapham, LA2 8EE.
Ingleton Waterfalls Trail
You’ll be able to hear the sheer power of the spectacular waterfalls on the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail before you even see them. The trail is 4.3-miles long and will guarantee some almighty photo opportunities along the way. You will walk past incredible sights like Pecca Falls, Hollybush Spout and Beezley Falls, but the main attraction has to be Thornton Force, which cascades over a 46-foot drop into the River Twiss.
Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, Broadwood Entrance, Ingleton, Carnforth, LA6 3ET.
Flamborough Head is a picturesque chalk headland that runs between between Filey and Bridlington. The famous white cliffs stand at 400 feet with a scattering of coves and sea caves beneath. You can see jagged columns that were once a part of the coast, before the soft layers of rock wore away and left the harder rock behind. It’s a haven for bird watchers, as rare gannets nest in the nooks and crannies of the cliff.
Flamborough Head, Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, YO015 1AR.
Mother Shipton’s Cave
Also known as ‘The Petrifying Well’, Mother Shipton’s Cave is a sight to behold. The water is rich in sulphate and carbonate, so it covers anything in its path with a silt coating, which looks like stone – you can see petrified teddies, hats and more hanging up as you explore the attraction. The cave is one of England’s oldest tourist attractions, fuelled by the conspiracies of Mother Shipton’s witchcraft, who was said to live here in the 15th century.
Mother Shipton’s Cave, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, HG5 8DD.
Three flights of waterfalls form Aysgarth Falls and if you head there after heavy rainfall you can see them it at their best. Thousands of gallons of water pass over the limestone steps to form a breathtaking display as the River Ure passes through. While you’re there, you can spot the wildlife found in the Freeholder’s Wood Local Nature Reserve right next to it – keep your eye out for dormice and roe deer.
Aysgarth Falls, Aysgarth, North Yorkshire, DL8 3TH.
The picturesque Janet’s Foss waterfall stands at just six metres and is tucked away in a small wood not far from the village of Malham. Gordale Beck falls over the limestone outcrop into deep pool below, which now forms a popular wild swimming spot in the summer, but was once used for sheep dipping. The surrounding wood is filled with fresh garlic, which you can smell as you approach the waterfall and in the spring you can see a scattering of bluebells.
Janet’s Foss, Malham, Yorkshire Dales National Park, BD23 4DL.
Stump Cross Caverns
Stump Cross Caverns is an almighty cave system that spans an area of around six kilometres and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Millions of years ago, underground streams entered cracks and wore away the rock to create unique cave formations, complete with stalactites and stalagmites. You can see these as you make your way through many of the caves today, but there are still areas that only experienced cavers are able to access.
Stump Cross Caverns, Greenhow Hill, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 5JL.
You can find Hull Pot, England’s largest naturally-formed hole, to the western side of Pen-y-ghent, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. Walkers often make a detour to marvel at the huge waterfall that carries Hull Pot Beck down into the depths of the hole, which formed due to a collapsed cavern. But to catch it at its best, be sure to head there after heavy rainfall, as the increase in water creates an even more dramatic display. Just don’t go too close to the edge.
Hull Pot, Pen-y-ghent, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9PW.
Hardraw Force is England’s highest single drop waterfall on land and you can only access it through the Green Dragon Inn, which it’s nestled behind. It falls from a 100 foot overhang into a deep plunge pool at the bottom and is unusually slim compared to other waterfalls, because of the immense pressure and speed of the falling water, which makes it a real sight to behold. Why not see if you can recognise it from the film, Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves?
Hardraw Force, The Green Dragon Inn, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 3LZ.
Howgill Fells are a group of hills found right on the border of the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. This means you can soak up spectacular views of both the Lake District in one direction and God’s Own Country in the other. Both the River Lune and River Rawthey carve their away through the landscape and you can even see Cautley Spout, one of England’s highest waterfalls, which has an incredible 180 metre drop.
Howgill Fells, Low Haygarth, Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales National Park, LA10 5NE.Cover image credit: Joe Hayhurst licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.