Parking: Roadside parking in Hawes
Start Point: Hawes
Region: Yorkshire Dales
Route length: 8.1 miles (13 km)
Time taken: 03:26
Average speed: 2.4 mph
Points of interest: Hardraw Force, Cotter Force, Appersett Viaduct
Route: National Park Centre, Haylands Bridge, Sedbusk Farm, Simonstone Hotel, Hardraw, Hardraw Force, New Bridge, Holme Heads Bridge, Cotter Force, New Bridge, Appersett Viaduct, Spillian Green Sike, Pike Hill, Hawes
Believe it or not England's three highest waterfalls can all be found in the Yorkshire Dales; there's Cautley Spout, highest cascade; Gaping Gill, highest unbroken (but falls underground) and Hardraw Force, highest unbroken above ground. In addition to these modest giants, the Dales is littered with many other, lesser known beauties such as Aysgarth and Linton Falls, Catrigg Force and Janet's Foss. One of these hidden gems is Cotter Force, a wonderful tiered waterfall at the foot of Cotterdale.
We parked in Hawes in the heart of Wensleydale as it offers the most convenient starting point for the walk, picking up the Pennine Way which heads through the town. The route passes through both Hawes and Hardraw so makes an ideal pedestrian highway between the two. The path crosses the River Ure on Burnt Acres Road, utilising a very nice old bridge to do so before striking out across the open farmland towards Hardraw.
|Abbotside Common guards the northern side of Wensleydale|
|A frozen Wensleydale|
|The path down Hardraw Scar|
|Hardraw Force in all its glory|
|The frozen rocks below the spout|
|The path leading alongside the river|
|The paved path leading to Cotter Force|
|The cascading falls|
|A closeup of the upper shelves|
|A slow-shutter photo which I am particularly fond of|
|It certainly was cold!|
|Sara heads towards Appersett Viaduct|
|A snow shower threatens to engulf the valley|
The weather had taken a bit of a turn so we decided to take the most direct route back to Hawes, a series of rights of way that cross numerous fields and enters Hawes from the west. There are a variety of routes that can be taken, including a slightly longer one that visits Gayle and its tremendous refurbished mill. One for another time I think. In summary, this is really a walk of two halves with most of the interest and excitement experienced in the first half. Both falls are places that need to be deliberately visited rather than passed on the way so they are a bit difficult to fit into a nice circuit. That said, both sit in the shadow of Great Shunner Fell and can easily be included as diversions to a very rewarding walk.