High Force

Forest-in-Teesdale / North Pennines, Durham County, England

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 2
High Force

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

High Force impressed us with its gushing flow as it plunged 21m into a wide but turbulent plunge pool thanks to the River Tees flowing in full spate from all the unsettled weather that the area had been experiencing thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Bertha. Even without the help of a broken up hurricane, it seems that the river typically experiences powerfully reliable flow as almost all the photos I've seen of the falls in the literature tended to show the falls in a gushing state. Adding to its scenic allure were vertical cliffs flanking the funneling of the river over the waterfall while the plunge pool was fringed with jagged boulders that I'd imagine were once part of these cliffs. It was essentially Nature that was as raw and powerful as we'd encounter throughout England.

Our visit began from a large car park requiring a 2 pound fee to park the car (see directions below). Then, we had to pay an admission of 3 pounds total for both Julie and I as Tahia was able to tag along for free. Next, we had to cross the busy B6277 road (being extra cautious with Tahia given how quickly cars zoomed by here) before getting onto a wide, mostly open, and gently downhill trail that was flanked by some blooming wildflowers, some gorge walls, and some trees. To explain the open nature of the early part of the trail, a sign here informed us that this walk and the surrounding area ended up being cleared and destroyed by one of the most severe gales ever experienced in January 1992. Old growth softwoods over 100ft high were uprooted or blown over while the trail to the falls itself had to be re-built. In place of many of the old growth softwoods were imported exotic and commercial conifers, which I'd imagine explained the trees that we were seeing.

View of High Force from the trail These days, we noticed that the trail itself was quite popular as there always seemed to be someone we'd encounter the whole way either going towards the falls or coming back from it. The trail eventually started to narrow as it bridged a small brook, then started to follow directly above the River Tees. At about 10 minutes from the road, we finally started to see High Force further upstream on the river. From this vantage point, the falls looked very tall and impressive, and it really hastened our steps to get closer.

Eventually after another five minutes of walking, we then encountered stairs that brought us amongst the jumble of jagged boulders fringing the large plunge pool fronting High Force. It appeared that the trail continued to switchback further uphill before the stairs, but a sign there said a fence further ahead near the top of the falls was locked indefinitely due to safety issues. We didn't pursue going to the top of the falls, but we did see quite a few people lingering up there so perhaps they hopped the fence anyways. But as for the base of the waterfall itself, the falls appeared to be shorter than what when we had seen it earlier on the trail. However, we still marveled at the geology lesson that literally was on display thanks to three noticeable layers of rock (said to be Whin Sill, Sandstone, and Limestone) comprising the cliffs flanking the falls.

A short distance further downstream, I also noticed what looked to be basalt-like formations on the cliffs across the River Tees. That would suggest to me there used to be some kind of interaction between lava and ice. In any case, as we were just chilling out amongst the jagged boulders fringing the plunge pool, we had to hold onto Tahia since there was nothing to keep her from getting dangerously close to the turbulent river. Overall, we spent a little over an hour doing both the hike and just relaxing at the falls (this didn't include the 30 minutes or so of restroom time both before and after the hike given Tahia's active bladder at the time).

Finally, a sign here talked about some of the reasons behind the place names we had been encountering while in the Yorkshire Dales, the Lakes District, and the Northern Pennines. It turned out that Vikings had settled in the area 1100 years ago, and with it, they left their linguistic mark on the culture and landscape with English-adopted vocabulary that was ultimately derived from Scandinavian words. For example, the word "force" came from the word "foss" meaning waterfall (something you'll undoubtedly encounter in our waterfall writeups of Norway and Iceland). We also learned that several other words had Scandinavian roots as well such as "dale" from "dal" or valley, "gate" from "gata" or street, "beck" from "bekk" meaning brook, and "fell" from "fjell" meaning mountain.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

Prior to the day we toured High Falls, we had spent some time in the charming former Viking town of York roughly 2 hours drive (75 miles or so) to the eastPrior to the day we toured High Falls, we had spent some time in the charming former Viking town of York roughly 2 hours drive (75 miles or so) to the east
An atmospheric and worthwhile attraction in the nearby town of Kendal was the Kendal Castle, which was both free and provided nice views of the townAn atmospheric and worthwhile attraction in the nearby town of Kendal was the Kendal Castle, which was both free and provided nice views of the town
Kendal was also a base for us to explore not only the Yorkshire Dales and its waterfalls, but it also was convenient for us to visit the Lakes District and the waterfalls there as wellKendal was also a base for us to explore not only the Yorkshire Dales and its waterfalls, but it also was convenient for us to visit the Lakes District and the waterfalls there as well
The well-signed car park for High ForceThe well-signed car park for High Force

A couple about to cross the B6277 road to start on the hikeA couple about to cross the B6277 road to start on the hike

Julie and Tahia about to start on the short walk down to High ForceJulie and Tahia about to start on the short walk down to the falls

Julie passing through an open part of the trail that was adversely affected by a strong gale that essentially destroyed and cleared the area before re-plantings had occurred in early 1992.  I believe the flowers and trees we saw at the time were the results of these re-plantingsJulie passing through an open part of the trail that was adversely affected by a strong gale that essentially destroyed and cleared the area before re-plantings had occurred in early 1992. I believe the flowers and trees we saw at the time were the results of these re-plantings

Once we got past this brook, the trail then narrowed as it got closer alongside the River TeesOnce we got past this brook, the trail then narrowed as it got closer alongside the River Tees

Julie on the trail as it was now directly above the River TeesJulie on the trail as it was now directly above the River Tees

Looking ahead at the impressive High ForceLooking ahead at the impressive High Force

Continuing further ahead towards High ForceContinuing further ahead towards the falls

As we got deeper into the gorge, the trail now passed before tall cliffs like thisAs we got deeper into the gorge, the trail now passed before tall cliffs like this

Right before the stairs leading down towards the plunge pool of High ForceRight before the stairs leading down towards the plunge pool of High Force

At the base of High ForceAt the base of the falls

Context of the jumble of boulders fringing the plunge pool of High ForceContext of the jumble of boulders fringing the plunge pool of the falls

Julie and Tahia starting the uphill walk back to the car parkJulie and Tahia starting the uphill walk back to the car park

Back at the clearing where I noticed these attractive pink flowersBack at the clearing where I noticed these attractive pink flowers

Back across the B6277 road and to the car parkBack across the B6277 road and to the car park


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Close-up bottom up sweep of the falls before zooming out to show its entirety and its context.


Left to right sweep of the falls from before the stairs showing its full plunge pool as well as a close-up sweep of its turbulent drop


Left to right sweep starting from some basalt-like formations across the River Tees before panning over to the falls itself along with its plunge pool


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We actually went a little out of the way to drive all the way to Forest-in-Teesdale (where the High Force was located) from Hardraw Force. While there were many ways to get here, we can only describe the route that we took, which we'll get into.

Heading west on the A684 from Hardraw, we drove west for a little over 4 miles before leaving the A road to turn right onto the narrower B6259 road. We'd follow the B6259 road for a little over 10 miles to the town of Kirkby Stephen, where we then followed the A685 road for about 4 miles north towards the A66 at Church Brough. After reaching the A66, we then crossed it onto the B6276 road as it passed through more pastures and rolling hills towards the B6277 road. We had to be careful on this stretch of road because there were free roaming sheep often right on or right next to the narrow road.

Once we kept left onto the B6277 road, we then followed this road for about 5.3 miles to the well-signed car park for High Force. This drive from Hardraw Force to get here took us about 1 hour and 10 minutes (most of it following behind slower vehicles on the narrow roads).

Conversely, we also could have driven to High Force from Kendal, which probably would take about 90 minutes along the A684, A683, and A685 roads before getting onto both the B6276 and B6277 roads.

Finally, for some context, Kendal was 87 miles (over 2 hours drive) west of York, 73 miles (90 minutes drive) north of Manchester, 236 miles (4.5 hours drive) north of Bath, and 271 miles (over 5 hours drive or 3-4 hours by train) northwest of London.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Great Britain Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Europe Page]


[Return from High Force to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]