Cautley Spout was said to possess the tallest cumulative height for a waterfall above ground in England at a reported 198m (30m Hardraw Force was said to have the tallest unbroken singular drop above ground in England). Surrounding the falls were the impressive mountains of the Howgill Fells, which further added to its scenic allure and ambience. Yet even with these aspects going for it, this waterfall didn’t seem to get the kind of love we noticed most other waterfalls in the country tended to receive. Upon our visit, we didn’t even notice much in the way of obvious signage pointing out the falls to a casual motorist that might be passing by, nor was there an obvious footpath leading to a closer and better view of it (unless you happened to be walking the public footpaths in the area coming from somewhere further away).
All of these things conspired to make visiting this waterfall more of an adventure than perhaps it ought to be. That said, I’d imagine for those in the know that this relative obscurity would be welcome since it would mean no crowds, you’d have to earn your experience with a fell walk, and it wouldn’t cost a ridiculous amount for parking and/or trail access. Of course on the flip side, it would also mean that a lot of factors would have to go right in order to have a more successful visit than I was able to have (e.g. weather, preparation, timing, and more). And as you can see from the photos on this page, I wasn’t able to get very far given the circumstances.
After going back-and-forth and backtracking on the A683 road, I finally found an unsigned pullout where we were able to stop the car (see directions below). Julie and Tahia opted to stay in the car given the strong winds and threatening weather. As I got out of the car and started walking along the road (there was no shoulder for pedestrians so I literally had to keep an eye out for cars that happened to be driving by), I was able to take the distant contextual photo of Cautley Spout that you see at the top of this page.
As I continued another 1/4-mile north towards the Low Haygarth property, that was when I saw there was a signposted public footpath that cut across the A683 road and onto the driveway of the property on the left. So I followed this path through the driveway and past a few gates before I would eventually get to a field where I would get as close as I would wind up being to the falls as I was stopped short by a fording of a stream that seemed to be running fairly deep. Given the weather, the time of the day (it was almost 6pm), and that Julie and Tahia were waiting back at the car, I decided not to continue further and be content with my distant views of the falls. Perhaps if I was better prepared, I might go the full distance and get a better experience with the falls, but only if I’m so fortunate to come back here.
In the end, this brief reconnaissance of the falls and its access took me about 40 minutes. It was still a decent waterfalling experience in that I got to see it and get a feel for the countryside scenery here, but I also felt like there was so much more that was left on the table.
Cautley Spout was about 15 miles east of Kendal, which was where we stayed (or 3.8 miles north of Sedbergh). We actually came from the north via Kirkby Stephen along the A683 after visiting High Force so we’ll describe how we got to the pullout described above from Kirkby Stephen.
Heading south out of Kirkby Stephen on the Ash Fell Road (A685), we then turned left onto the A683 Road. We followed the A683 Road for about 7.6 miles where we ultimately stopped the car at an unsigned pullout shortly after a sign with a speed camera drawing on it. That speed camera sign was probably the only landmark that would tip us off to that pullout (which probably only had room for two or three cars).
Overall, the drive from High Force (by Forest-in-Teesdale) to Cautley Spout took us about an hour. On the other side, it took us about 40 minutes to drive from Cautley Spout to Kendal further to the west.
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.
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