The Yorkshire Dales are undeniably photogenic. The Dales has a wistful, windswept beauty that attracts many film set crews, wildlife lovers, and hiking enthusiasts. And its waterfalls are perhaps the most impressive natural features of all.
You can read briefly about the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales in my previous article here – including the best waterfall walks. But this article will go into the all-important details. These are the best of the Yorkshire Dales waterfalls, from impressive single drop giants to pretty fairy fosses.
Access: A 4.9-mile return footpath
Address: Malham, Skipton, BD23 4DL
Janet’s Foss is a pretty limestone waterfall in Malham, a small village that is easily one of the best places to visit in Yorkshire.
The waterfall is full of tufa deposits from the natural levels of calcium carbonate in the water. This tufa gives Janet’s Foss a bright colour – making it a photogenic waterfall to visit. The waterfall crashes straight into a plunge pool, where you can enjoy the water from afar or dive right in. Janet’s Foss is wild swimmer friendly and a popular swim spot amongst locals.
Keep your eyes out for Jennet too! Janet’s Foss is rumoured to be the home of Jennet, the Queen of Fairies. If you want to visit a swimmer-friendly waterfall that is relatively easy to access, Janet’s Foss is a fun option.
Access: A 10.2-mile return route
Address: A683, Sedbergh, LA10 5NE
Don’t mind walking a little longer? Cautley Spout is a beast of a waterfall and falls 198 metres in total over multiple drops.
You can start the walk to Cautley Spout from the Sedbergh Information Centre, and it takes roughly two hours each way. If you are wondering why you should bother with the extra effort, Cautley Spout is England’s highest cascade waterfall above the ground (a specific title, I know!). It is one of the most impressive of all our Yorkshire Dales waterfalls, especially after periods of heavy rain.
You can swim in small plunge pools around Cautley Spout. However, I’d advise saving swimming for England’s rare heatwaves. A two-hour walk still slightly soggy and cold is hardly enjoyable, so choose one of the other Yorkshire Dales waterfalls if you just want to go wild swimming. Cautley Spout is best if you want to appreciate one of the country’s highest waterfalls and have an adventurous hike getting there.
Access: A 0.6-mile return footpath
Address: Hardraw, Leyburn, Hawes, DL8 3LZ
The Yorkshire Dales’ waterfalls hold a lot of titles. Hardraw Force is the highest single-drop waterfall in England and a definite waterfall to visit when in the Dales.
Hardraw Force is also the easiest waterfall to reach. You only have to walk a short distance from the Green Dragon Pub (the owners of the waterfall) to the base of the Hardraw Force. It is a serene, laidback stroll that includes crossing a little beck multiple times over a series of wooden footbridges. You’ll have to pay an entrance fee at the pub, but I think it is well worth the experience.
Hardraw Force falls over 30 metres in a single drop – which is quite a sight to behold.
Access: A 4.3-mile circular track
Address: Broadwood Entrance, Ingleton, Carnforth, LA6 3ET
Fancy getting good value for money? Forget individual waterfalls and experience six in one visit. Ingleton Waterfalls has lots of different waterfalls on a circular track, which is perfect if you want to experience a variety of falls or have limited time in the Yorkshire Dales.
Ingleton Waterfalls isn’t just famous for its waterfalls either. The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is full of protected plants and animals, especially birds.
Snow Falls and Thornton Force are two of my favourites at Ingleton Waterfalls. But honestly, they are all beautiful! You’ll get up close to some waterfalls and a distant view of others, so bring a camera and get ready for some interesting and diverse vantage points.
Access: In the village centre
Address: Settle, BD24 9LS
Waterfalls are amazing, of course. But often, seeing animals interact with them is even more magical. At Stainforth Force, you can watch the salmon jumping phenomenon every autumn. The salmon travel upstream to their birthplace to lay their eggs – jumping over boulders and up waterfalls in their path.
Stainforth Force is on the River Ribble, located between Little Stainforth and Stainforth. You can easily park in either of the villages and walk to the waterfall in less than ten minutes, so Stainforth Falls is a very accessible fall to visit.
The cascade waterfall flows into multiple plunge pools that are great for swimming. It is a popular family spot, too, with many locals venturing to Stainforth Force for a picnic in warm weather. If you want to spot the salmon or just have a calm day next to a waterfall, Stainforth Force
Aysgarth Falls: Cascading waterfalls along the River Ure – perfect for a long, family day out with a picnic. Aysgarth Falls, Church Bank, Aysgarth, Leyburn, DL8 3TH
Valley of Desolation Waterfall: A powerful waterfall accessible on foot from Bolton Abbey. Valley of Desolation – Waterfall, Yorkshire Dales National Park, Skipton
Cauldron Falls: A small but beautiful waterfall painted by Turner and popular with modern photographers and artists. West Burton, Leyburn, DL8 4JP
Middle Falls: A remote, multi-level waterfall that is a little tricky to find but quiet and rewarding to visit. Buckden, Skipton, BD23 5JB
Wain Wath Force: A small waterfall with a huge plunge pool for swimming. B6270, Richmond, DL11 6DZ
A waterfall day trip is a perfect addition to any Yorkshire itinerary, especially in summer. These Yorkshire Dales waterfalls all warrant a visit, so good luck trying to choose!
Been to one of these spots before? Drop any recommendations and suggestions for other readers in the comments below.