Over half term we went glamping for a couple of days in North Yorkshire. It was a blissful few days and we were blown away by the natural beauty of the area. We were keen to take in as much of nature’s beauty as we could, so we hopped in the car and drove to Aysgarth Falls.
Aysgarth Falls are in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and are a set of three magnificent waterfalls on the River Ure. The falls cascade over the series of broad limestone steps which are divided into three stages; Upper Force, Middle Force and Lower Force. We didn’t really know what to expect as we’d just seen them listed as a nice walk in the glamping site welcome booklet; so we laced up our walking boots, set the sat nav and drove there.
We were unsure where to park; so we drove through the village and up to a cafe and car park over the top of the falls. There is a car park which overlooks St Andrew’s Church, a Grade II listed parish church which is known for its unusually large churchyard. The church has a number of fittings that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When we arrived there was a public event on at the church, but we were keen to see the falls so we didn’t go in.
We walked down the road to the top of the falls; the pavement really narrows off here, so if you have small children it’s worth keeping them close. Crossing the bridge over the River Ure, you can find a footpath which is you turn left takes you to the Upper Force; turn right and you find the official car park, a visitors centre and tea room, and the path to the middle and lower falls.
We took the path to the Upper Force, a couple of minutes walk and the path opens up to a beautiful sight. When it’s been raining the falls thunder with cascading water; but it had been fairly dry recently, so it lacked the promised power. It was however still very lovely. These are the only falls you can paddle in; and families were walking across the shallows in wellies or bare feet.
The Upper Force are a fine spot for a picnic too. I’d popped to a bakery in Bedale on the way, so we had a selection of sandwiches and baked goods to tuck into. Disappointingly not everyone tidies up after themselves, so there was a bit of litter about, which was a shame considering the amount of natural beauty we were surrounded by.
After our picnic, we walked up river a little. It was very peaceful and away from the paddling families there were birds and insects and peace. Plus a chance to skim stones on the glassy river and so much beauty.
We decided that we would walk down and see the middle and lower falls. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were in no rush. Following the footpath, we passed the visitors centre, crossed a road and entered the woodland through a gate. The walk through the woods is well signposted, with a nice path which is suitable for buggies. Wheelchair users will find accessing some areas a bit tricky though as there are some steps.
We walked down to the lower falls first, figuring we would catch the middle falls on the way back. This turned out to be a great idea. We followed the footpath down towards the bottom; there was a viewing platform where you can get great views of the lower force. Further along you can get closer to the falls, but the stone is uneven and I didn’t want to risk a fall. The boys scampered around with confidence though. To return to the path, you can either go back the way you came or climb a flight of steps. It’s quicker to climb the steps if you are able.
Returning to the path, you head back the way you came; after a few minutes walk you will find the middle force, which again is down a set of steps to the viewing platform. If you don’t want to tackle the steps, you can still get a fine view from the footpath.
There are benches and places to rest along the footpath. Once you’ve done the walk, you have earned the right to tea and cake at the tea shop at the Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre itself is well worth a visit. There are displays and information about the geology of the falls and surrounding area; as well as information about the wildlife of the area.
The walk is a fairly easy one. My 8 year old didn’t complain and enjoyed the woodland walk and seeing Aysgarth Falls. It was fine for me too, though I was cautious walking over the stone near the falls. We all loved visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the UK.
For more information, visit the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre website.