Sunday, 6 November 2016

Ingleton Waterfalls

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Route: Ingleton, Swilla Glen, Pecca Falls, Hollybush Spout, Thornton Force, Ravenray Bridge, Twisleton Lane, Beezley Farm, Beezley Falls, Rival Falls, Baxenghyll Gorge, Snow Falls, Mealbank Quarry, Ingleton

Date: 06/11/2016
From: Ingleton

Parking: Free parking in Ingleton
Start Point: Ingleton
Region:Yorkshire Dales

Route length: 4.3 miles (6.9 km)
Time taken: 02:24
Average speed: 2.2 mph
Ascent: 385m
Descent: 330m

Points of interest: Pecca Falls, Hollybush Spout, Thornton Force, Beezley Falls, Rival Falls, Baxenghyll Gorge, Snow Falls

This has long been on the 'to do' list but at a modest 4 miles - it doesn't really lend itself to an epic day out. We had intended to make the long drive up to Swaledale to investigate the charms of Gunnerside and Sinner Gill but an autumnal forecast made us think twice. We had tried this walk many years ago but it was so busy we couldn't even get parked and ended up in Dentdale instead. We were back for another stab.
The fine viaduct that spans the valley
Benches in Ingleton
Sara makes her way down through the village
The River Doe flowing through Ingleton
The waterfalls trail is a private enterprise, requiring an entrance fee (£6 per adult at the time of writing) to be paid to access the trail. It even has its own website, you can find it here. While a short stroll, the trail is packed with interest and without a doubt one of the most scenic days out in the Yorkshire Dales. If done clockwise, the trail follows the River Twiss up to Thornton Force before returning along the deep gorge of the River Doe and should take around 3 hours.

We parked in the village of Ingleton, using the road that leads into the village. There is parking at the National Park car park and the trail itself has a fairly large car park (unbeknown to us at the time). Suited for a cold and drizzly day, we paid our fees and set out along the trail.
Entering the trail
The trail immediately enters Swilla Glen where the path hugs the base of a large outcrop of rock. Here you can find the money tree, a fallen log festooned with small coins. Adding you own is supposed to bring good luck - a tradition thought to date back hundreds of years. It used to be believed that divine spirits lived in trees, and they were often decorated with sweets and gifts - as is still done today at Christmas.
The River Twiss at Swilla Glen
Swilla Glen
The trail is well maintained along its length
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The money tree
The path wends through the woods of Swilla Glen, crossing Manor Bridge to reach a viewpoint looking along the River Twiss. At the head is lower fall of Pecca Falls - impressive at this distance, more so up close.
The River Twiss at Manor Bridge
Manor Bridge
Pecca Falls
Pecca Falls
The footbridge at Pecca Falls sits adjacent to the largest of the five falls that make up Pecca Falls. The fall plunge the River Twiss over 30m with each fall having a deep plunge pool. While the lower fall is perhaps the highest and most dramatic, climbing the steps reveals a perfect view of Pecca Twin Falls, the middle of the set of five.
Pecca Falls
Pecca Falls
Pecca Middle Falls
Another set of steps leads to Hollybush Spout, an additional waterfall passing through a rocky cleft. From Hollybush Spout, the woods diminish and the path stretches out into more open ground, heading for Thornton Force.
Hollybush Spout
Hollybush Spout with a long exposure
Cuckoo Island on the River Twiss
Thornton Force
Thornton Force is perhaps the highlight of the trail - an impressive 10m fall over a limestone shelf. This is a textbook case of geological unconformity, where the Great Scar Limestone overlays much older Ordovician Ingleton slates and is a direct result of the Craven Fault which dominates the scenery of the western dales and is chiefly responsible for the formation of Malham Cove.
Thornton Force
The artist Joseph Turner visited Ingleton when making a brief tour of the Craven Dales in 1808 and then again in 1816 during his grand tour. Both times Turner made numerous sketches of the Ingleton area, including views of the town, as well as sketches and watercolours of the waterfalls, intended for Whitaker's York history series. Unfortunately, most of his ideas remained unrealised due to the untimely death of Whitaker before the project was barely one quarter completed.

Despite the spray and the un-ending drizzle, Thornton Force provides the perfect opportunity to practice some long exposures and the results are pretty pleasing.
Thornton Force
Thornton Force
The trail climbs up alongside Thornton Force to Ravenray Footbridge before joining Twistleton Lane, an ancient Roman Road. In the summer there is often an Ice Cream Van waiting to serve legions of hot and thirsty tourists, rather than invading Italians.
The River Twiss above Thornton Force
Looking towards Keld Head Scar
Twisleton Lane
Twisleton Lane marks the high point of the walk and has fabulous views of Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire's famed three peaks. Ingleborough remains in view until you reach the woods at Beezleys Farm which also acts as an intermediate ticketing office for anyone trying to stray onto the trail from surrounding rights of way.
Ingleborough makes an appearance
A hazy rainbow over Twisleton Scars
The waterfalls come thick and fast once you're into the oak woodland on the River Doe. The first is Beezley falls quickly followed by Rival Falls and the deep Baxenghyll Gorge. It's a remarkable sequence.
The autumnal oak woods
Beezley Falls
The River Doe turns an abrupt corner
The River Doe
Rival Falls
Rival Falls
Baxenghyll Gorge
The footbridge above Baxenghyll Gorge
The excitement starts to diminish a bit after Baxenghyll Gorge but the woodland is splendid. There is one final waterfall on the trail, Snow Falls. It's a little bit distant but is another lovely waterfall none the less.
Snow Falls
A closeup of Snow Falls
From Snow Falls, the trail continues through Twisleton Glen to the final footbridge over the River Doe. The valley is home to a series of old quarries and lime kilns and you can see the remains of a number of them. A short stroll through Ingleton itself will lead you back to any of the car parks that you've used.
The River Doe
Mealbank Quarry
Remains of the quarry buildings
In summary; a short, easy walk - perfect for a family day our whatever the weather. What this walk lacks in distance it certainly makes up for in scenery and is well worth the entrance price. Highly recommended.