High Force Waterfall Walk
Visit the spectacular Low Force and High Force waterfalls on this waterside circular walk in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The walk runs for about 6.5 miles with some moderate climbs along the way.
You start off from the Bowlees Visitor Centre, where car parking is available. A short walk from here takes you to the River Tees and the 18 foot (5.5m) Low Force Waterfall. Here you cross a bridge over the river and pick up the Pennine Way, following it west through riverside woodland to High Force Waterfall. It's one of the biggest waterfalls in England and a spectacular sight with the water dropping 70 feet (21m) into a plunge pool below. The site also includes ancient rocks formed over 300 million years ago.
From here you can return to the start point the same way but this route climbs to the hills to the south of the river. You'll reach a height of over 1300ft around Whiteholm Bank, with splendid views over the area to enjoy. The walk then descends back to the river and the car park.
This walk takes you along the free southern bank of the river but if you would like to visit the northern bank then access is via a private footpath on the Raby estate for which a fee is charged. See the link below for more details.
If you'd like to extend your walk you could continue west along the Pennine Way to Cow Green Reservoir and Cauldron Snout waterfall. The waterfall is another spectacular sight and at 200 yards (180 m) long, it is reckoned to be the longest waterfall in England. Heading east along the waymarked river trail will take you to Middleton-in-Teesdale.
PostcodeDL12 0XF - Please note: Postcode may be approximate for some rural locations
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High Force Waterfall Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
High Force Waterfall Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
High Force Waterfall OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
High Force Waterfall Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
The Bowlees Visitor Centre at the start of the walk has a nice cafe with a good choice of snacks and meals. They also have lots of information about the area with booklets for self-guided walks, bike rides and nature-spotting.
The High Force Hotel is also conveniently located for some post walk refreshments. They do very good food which you can enjoy in two cosy little bars, in the tearoom or outdoors on the patio, in the courtyard or in the garden. It's a lovely place to relax in after your exercise.
The Strathmore Arms is another good choice. The pub is located in Holwick (Postcode: DL12 0NJ) and was named Country Cider Pub of the Year 2016, 17 & 18. It's a traditional English country pub with a nice coal log fire and a good selection of meals and ales. The pub is also dog friendly.
Pictured above the very fine High Force Hotel and the Strathmore Arms pub in Holwick. Both are worthy of some investigation if you have time after your walk.
You could also follow the Tees North and visit Landgdon Beck. Here you'll find the Langdon Beck Hotel which is a popular place to stay in the area. The hotel has a good menu and a cosy interior with roaring fires and a friendly atmosphere. It's in a wonderfully remote location, with lovely views and a whole host of other walks to try around the hotel. You can find the hotel to the east of the reservoir at a postcode of DL12 0XP for your sat navs.
Pictured above: Langdon Beck Hotel and Langdon Beck Bridge to the north of the falls. Langdon Beck has been adopted as the name of the hamlet.
On the High Force paths dogs are welcome but to protect the sensitive plants and wildlife you are advised to keep them on leads. The High Force hotel mentioned above is also dog friendly whether you're staying over or just eating.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
This area is excellent for bird watching so be sure to bring your binoculars with you. For example the fields around Langdon Beck are some of the best in the North Pennines for seeing the rare Black Grouse. About 80% of Britain’s Black Grouse population live within the North Pennines. The lekking displays, which are at their peak in early Spring are quite spectacular. Lapwings, Curlew, Redshank and Snipe all breed in the surrounding pastures too.
Just north of the visitor centre you can also visit Summerhill Force waterfall and Gibson's Cave. You can reach the site with a nice little stroll through woodland along the Bow Lee Beck to the pretty waterfall.
Pictured above the Summerhill Force waterfall and Gibson's Cave. Located close to High Force the site is a very worthy addition to your outing.