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High Force Waterfall (Teesdale)

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4 Reviews

One of England's most spectacular waterfalls located in Teesdale, County Durham.

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    4 Reviews
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      21.06.2011 17:40
      Very helpful
      1 Comment



      It's not Niagara, but it's spectacular nonetheless

      High Force Waterfall in Middleton in Teesdale is a spectacular sight. It might not have quite the impressive size of Niagara Falls, but it is still an impressive natural feature.

      Getting There
      The waterfalls themselves are very easy to find. Simply head for the village of Middleton in Teesdale and there are plenty of brown signs showing you the way. The site is about 5 minutes easy drive out of the village down some wide country roads. The only place we encountered any real difficult was with seeing the entrance to the car park. As you round a corner, there is a car park for the falls, but this is right next door to a pub. Even though there was a sign telling us to turn right at this point, wet simply thought that the car park belonged to the pub and so initially went whizzing past. Thankfully, if you make the same mistake, it's soon obvious that you have gone wrong and there are plenty of places to turn around, so you don't end up going miles out of your way. The Falls also stand fairly close to a bus route, so if you are reliant on public transport, you can easily catch a bus out of Middleton in Teesdale that will drop you off less than five minutes' walk away.

      The pricing structure for High Force is a little strange. As you enter the car park, you pay £2.00 for your car. Once parked, you then have to go to the small ticket office and buy a ticket for the falls themselves at £1.50 per person (£1 concessions). This seems slightly odd to me - making you pay twice. Personally, I'd have preferred the option just to make a single payment for both the car park and the falls or for the cost of parking my car to automatically include admission to the waterfalls. It's probably something to do with accountants why it is the way it is!

      If you want to avoid the car park charge, you can park in the nearby Bowlees Visitor Centre which is free and has a direct footpath leading to the falls. Be aware, though, that this will involve a lot more walking. From the official car park to the falls is around 10 minutes' walk; from Bowlees it's about a six mile round trip (albeit it through some lovely woodlands).

      The Falls
      Getting to the falls themselves is very easy. Across the road from the car park entrance is a gate leading to a path. This winds gradually up and around to the waterfalls and will take around 5-10 minutes to walk (depending on how quickly you walk) This walk itself is very pleasant and well-laid out. Although the path is slightly steep at times and quite windy, it has been well-designed and is not particularly arduous. Certainly when we were there, there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes making their way across without any problems.

      As the pathway winds around, you are treated to some pretty spectacular views of the surrounding area, which become more impressive the higher you climb. As you get closer, you also become more aware of the roar of the waterfall slowly increasing and see the turmoil it is creating in the river below you. This is fun, because it builds up the sense of anticipation long before you see the falls themselves!

      Once you arrive, you are greeted by a very impressive sight. For your first real view, you are standing around 100 metres or so away from the main drop, looking at it from just below the mid-point. This allows you to see the whole site and get some idea of its size and scale. It is very impressive.

      It's at this point, that the first caveat about accessibility needs to be given. To get the best views, you need to climb either up or down some steps. Whilst these are not terribly steep, they might be a little tricky for the disabled or the infirm to negotiate, so this mid-range view might be the closest some people can get.

      For everyone else, I'd advise taking the lower steps first. This takes you down to the river just downstream from where the waterfall ends, so that you can look up at the falls from below and appreciate just how high they are. It's possible to scramble around freely on the rocks in this area and this gives you the chance to take some pretty spectacular photographs.

      Once you've finished there, it's back up the way you came and then onwards up a second series of steps. These take you right above the waterfall, to the point where it drops down into the river below. This will definitely be inaccessible to some people as they are quite steep and, during wet or cold weather, rather slippery. However, if you are able to make the climb, it is well worth it. Once you get there, you can actually climb out onto the rocks and make your way to the very edge of the waterfall. As you are so high up, this offers some truly breathtaking views of the surrounding area, as well as giving you an impressive birds-eye view of how big the drop is on the falls.

      One thing that surprised me was there were hardly any barriers or restrictions on where you could wander. As noted above, you can wander right to the very edge of the waterfall, unimpeded and peer over into the thrashing waters below. I actually thought this was a really refreshing change and demonstrated faith that most people are actually rather sensible and are not going to do something stupid. It also gave you greater freedom to explore and meant that all visitors were not all crammed onto the same viewing platform, getting in each others' way. It does mean, though, that you will need to make sure that young children are supervised at all times and it's not a place to go if you suffer from vertigo.

      Facilities on the site are pretty limited. The car park itself is large and has plenty of spaces, although I suspect that on hot summer days, it gets pretty packed. Around the outside of the car park are a number of picnic tables which (despite the proximity of the car park) are a pleasant place to sit and eat. Other than that, it's limited to some toilets and a small shop selling crisps, drinks and a few small souvenirs. However, the pub is right next door to the car park, so you can always retire there if you are in need of more substantial sustenance.

      Opening Times
      Since it is a natural feature, it's a bit difficult to close High Force! There are nominal opening hours of 10am-5pm daily, but an honesty box at the entrance to the pathway suggests that you would be able to visit outside of these hours.

      Other Attractions
      Although you're only likely to spend about 30 minutes or so on the actual waterfall, once there you can taken advantage of the car park to go off on any number of walks along well sign posted public footpaths, whilst the Bowlees Visitor Centre, less than five minutes' drive away has a small, but interesting exhibition on the area and a number of riverside walks which feature a few smaller waterfalls. All told, we spent around 3-4 hours there which for a total outlay of £5 was pretty good value for money

      Even if you don't fancy going for walks in the area, High Force is a spectacular sight and is well worth driving out to if you find yourself in the north east.

      Basic Information
      High Force Waterfall
      Forest in Teesdale
      Middleton in Teesdale
      County Durham
      DL12 0XH
      Tel: +44 01833 640209
      © Copyright SWSt 2011


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      • More +
        21.03.2010 12:18
        Very helpful



        A brilliant waterfall along the River Tees.

        High Force is a waterfall which is on the River Tees, and is located at Forest-in-Teesdale. The river plunges down about 21 metres over a cliff edge, a 'precipice' if you wish to be technical, making a rather impressive waterfall!

        I have visited High Force in the past, but not for quite some years now. Last weekend it was bright and sunny, and feeling happy that spring is round the corner as the end of March nears, I randomly decided on a day out to High Force! This waterfall is situated near Barnard Castle town, and also Raby Castle which we drove past to get to the falls. I can't remember seeing Raby Castle before and it looks beautiful, we wanted to pop in but it doesn't open until April, so I think that's on we will be visiting in the future. Along some winding country lanes, you will suddenly see signs for High Force, and arrive at a big gravel car park with views of rolling hills and distant mountains. It's set in a rather lovely location!

        The car park itself has picnic benches and there is plenty of grass around to spread out a picnic blanket, if it's warm! As there was still a slight cold wind in the air we decided to eat in the car, looking out at the mountains, but there was a brave family who decided to sit at the picnic bench, despite the wind. At this time of year I was surprised to see how many people were at High Force. There were quite a few cars here, so I do imagine that in high peak seasons it would be slightly cramped in the car park. There is a gift shop and hotel on site; however the gift shop is closed during the winter months, re-opening at Easter. The gift shop is where you purchase tickets for the falls, but it's not at all pricey. Adult tickets cost £1.50 and children under 16 go free, and you hand in the tickets at the little hut at the start of the path leading to High Force. In the winter months however there is a little honesty box attached to the hut, although everyone was just walking past it! There are some toilets on site, a good thing considering you are really in the middle of nowhere, however when we visited there were signs on the door stating they would only be open during peak times now due to people vandalising them. Thankfully they were open when I went, they are a bit smelly and not too pleasant... but when nature calls!

        The path leading to the walls is actually across the road opposite the High Force hotel, we did see a few confused people wandering off up another path leading from the car park, reading a sign which stated whilst this was a public path, this wasn't the actual path which led to the falls. I think they could probably do with better signage in the winter months, when you don't have to buy tickets and thus not told where the path is.

        The pretty walk leading to High Force is approximately 1/3 of a mile, and it's a well maintained path, meaning people found it easy to take along prams and pushchairs. There was a sign at the start of the path stating how in the 1990's there were huge gales which destroyed quite a bit of the path due to the trees being blown down, and they basically had to rebuild the whole thing. The path leads nicely through the forest, over a trickling steam, and it's not long before you can hear the loud gushing noise of the waterfall. As you round the final corner you can see it. You can go down a few steps and climb around on the rocks near the plunge pool; you really need good shoes on to do this though! The waterfall is really impressive, and the spray from the waterfall was spraying us, such is the force of it.

        Near the path there is a gate, leading up some rather steep steps, which reach round to the top of the waterfall. Not for the faint hearted, leaving me gasping for breath at the top! From there you can see the river as it is at the top of the waterfall, and again it's a very scenic view. The rocks are just as big here, and despite being able to hear the waterfall, it seems more peaceful. A river with rolling countryside and mountains in the distance, with the sun shining it was a brilliant view. We got along the path and the gate was locked with a padlock, and danger signs warning of 'wet and slippery rocks' however I believe the gate was shut from the winter still as on this bright, sunny March day the rocks were bone dry. We hoped over the fence and explored the river and the top of the waterfall, though I was terrified to get too close and the sight of my boyfriend nearing the edge made me feel sick to be honest, I'm no good with heights! Other people also climbed the fence to have a look around, or to lie out on the rocks and look at the views.

        High Force makes for a lovely day out, you can visit this whilst out at Barnard Castle or Raby Castle and take a nice picnic to enjoy the scenery! Children must be supervised at all times at High Force, and dogs must be kept on a lead. For more information visit: http://www.thisisdurham.com/site/activities/see-and-do-search-results /high-force-waterfall-p26441


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          20.10.2009 16:59
          Very helpful



          One of my favourite places to visit.

          High Force and also Low Force Waterfalls are places I have visited many times over the years.
          Situated in Middleton-in-Teesdale, not far from both Raby or Barnard Castle, the waterfalls are a great place to visit for a day out, or as part of a drive through the stunning countryside in the area.

          High Force is without a doubt one of the most impressive waterfalls in England. The River Tees has been plunging into this gorge for thousands of years, but the rocks it reveals are even older, and date back over 300 million years!

          You will find High Force located along the B6277, 4 miles from Middleton-in -Teesdale. It is well signposted, just follow the brown tourist signs.
          You will come to a car park where you will be charged £2.00 to park your car. You then take the woodland walk, which will take you to the waterfall.
          Admissions prices to the waterfall are £1.50 per adult, with children under 16 admitted free. The waterfall is open all year round, with an honesty box in operation during the low season from November, usually until Easter.

          The woodland walk down to the waterfall, is one which always brings back memories for me of when I was a child.
          I always remember the point whilst walking down the pathway, where you can begin to hear the roar of the water plunging over the rocks, although you can't actually see the waterfall at this point.
          Obscured by trees, the noise of the water becomes louder and louder, then you reach the viewing platform at the foot of the waterfall, overlooking the plunge pool, and at last this magnificent sight is in front of you, as you watch in awe as the River Tees suddenly drops 21 metres over the Whin Sill rock into the plunge pool below.
          As a child, I remember being quite nervous walking along the pathway, listening to the roar of the water becoming louder, and wondering what I was going to see!

          I must point out that the woodland walk is a gravel path which gently slopes downwards and is approx one third of a mile long, so it is not difficult to access the waterfall, as there are no steep climbs or awkward pathways.

          It really is a beautiful sight, and there is also another viewing platform at the top of the waterfall which is accessed via steps.
          In years gone by, the waterfall would often freeze during the winter, which led to the formation of some pretty amazing icicles. However, probably due to climate change, this very rarely happens nowadays.

          There also used to be two separate falls, which was caused by flooding, but since the building of Cow Green Reservior further up the dale this also seldom happens anymore.

          A gift shop and toilets are available at High Force, although the shop is closed during the low season.

          Whilst visiting High Force, you may also wish to combine your visit with a trip to Low Force further downstream. This can be reached on foot as part of the Pennine Way walk. Many keen hikers and walkers enjoy walking from Cauldron Snout waterfall at Cow Green Reservoir, down to High Force, then on to Low Force.

          If you prefer, you can reach Low Force by driving to nearby Bowlees and parking in the visitor centre car park, which is also a picnic area, and where the footpath begins for a stroll to Gibson's Cave and Summerhill Force. However, if you leave the car park, then cross the main road, a pathway takes you through a field down to Low Force. It is a 10-15 minute walk, which brings you to the series of smaller waterfalls known as Low Force.
          Admission is free.

          The falls are pretty and access is unrestricted, with plenty of places to sit around the rocks. Many people visit here after a visit to High Force, to spend some time by the river.

          You will also find the Wynch Suspension Bridge here which dates back to 1830. Crossing the bridge takes you over to the other side of the river to connect with the Pennine Way footpath.
          There there are some great areas for children to paddle if you cross the bridge, and my children used to love playing in the water here when they were younger, on a warm summer day.
          I remember as a child being too scared to cross the Wynch Suspension Bridge as it moves whilst you walk on it, and I am also not keen on heights. I can recall both my Dad and my brother trying to coax me across the bridge to no avail, even bribing me with money!
          A few years later, as a teenager, I plucked up the courage to cross the bridge with my brother, and have managed to cross it many times since. My own children were not fazed by it at all, with one of my daughters quite fascinated by it and its structure.

          A small shop and refreshments, as well as toliets and a picnic area are available at Bowlees Visitor Centre, and I would also suggest you take the short walk from here to Gibson's Cave and Summerhill Force. They are well worth a visit.

          High Force and Low Force are beautiful places to visit, and hold a lot of happy memories for me from over the years. I would highly recommend a visit to both of these if you have never been. They are both situated in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and UNESCO European Geopark.

          Don't forget your camera!


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            10.08.2009 16:08
            Very helpful



            A nice walk if you're up in those parts

            High Force is a waterfall located in the north east of England near the village of Middleton-in-Teesdale, which is around half an hour's drive away from Darlington.

            I don't mind going for the occasional walk and seeing as we'd been to the football in Middlesbrough the night before, it seemed only fair to allow the other half to do what she wanted on the Saturday morning.

            Getting to the waterfall took longer than expected due to the winding country roads and an N-reg Micra that seemed incapable of travelling at any more than 40 miles per hour... If that was you, the accelerator is on the right!

            The wife had done her research and we parked the car for free at Bowlees. The car park is only small, but it wasn't busy when we got there which was surprising as it was a lovely summer morning. As well as a car park, there were also toilets and a visitors' centre that sold cold drinks and ice creams.

            The wife's parking location was around 3 miles away from the High Force falls, which gave us a nice relaxing walk up the river and allowed us to take in the smaller Low Force waterfalls, which in my opinion are actually better than High Force!

            The walk was fairly easy for young(ish) people like us, although I would recommend you take a drink with you as there isn't anywhere to get one en route. After walking for about an hour, we could finally hear the roar of the water coming over the falls and rounding the corner we stopped and looked in amazement at the... mediocrity... The falls themselves are relatively impressive for England, but having been to Switzerland a couple of years ago there really is no comparison. At only 70ft, it's barely even a drop in the ocean for a place like Switzerland!

            However, we're not blessed with the natural wonders of the Alps and so for England it was a pretty good morning's walk!


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