About Ingleton Waterfalls Trail (Thornton Force, First Pecca Falls, Twin Pecca Falls, Holly Bush Spout, Beezley Falls, Triple Spout, Rival Falls, Baxenghyll Gorge, Snow Falls)
The Ingleton Waterfalls Trail was probably one of the more publicized waterfall excursions that we’ve done for our UK trip. The entire 4.5-mile loop trail, which took us almost four hours to do took in waterfalls from two converging rivers – the River Twiss and the River Doe. Both rivers were running in full spate thanks to the unstable weather we had been experiencing during our trip as well as the storms that battered the area resulting from the remnants of Hurricane Bertha prior to our arrival to the UK. So all of the waterfalls we encountered were gushing with a brownish color that was typical of rivers in flood (so we also had to be very careful about getting too close to the rivers).
Speaking of the waterfalls, in addition to Thornton Force (which seemed to be the most famous of the waterfalls in this excursion), we also encountered the First Pecca Falls, the Twin Pecca Falls, and the Holly Bush Spout, all of which were on the River Twiss with Thornton being at the top of the river. When we decided to continue beyond Thornton Force and complete the loop, that was when we encountered the River Doe and saw Beezley Falls, Triple Spout, Rival Falls, Baxenghyll Gorge Waterfalls, and Snow Falls. Unsurprisingly, Thornton Force was the most impressive of the lot as the River Twiss plunged some 14m before curving its way further downstream towards the remaining waterfalls on the River Twiss. The rest of the waterfalls were shorter and exhibited more cascading characteristics. By the end of the excursion, all of us were pretty waterfalled out.That said, we technically could have just gone to Thornton Force and back, which would have probably cut the overall hike in half. But because the admission price (covering both parking and access) were a hefty 6 pounds per adult and 3 pounds for any children (including our three-year-old) under 16 or 14 pounds for a family of 2 adults and 3 children under 16, we tried to make our money’s worth in doing the entire waterfalls challenge. Throughout the hike, we encountered numerous reminders to pay for access, hinting to us that there probably was a way to access this hike without getting fleeced at the main car park.
In any case, I’ll now go through how we did the hike, which was in a clockwise manner.
Beginning from the spacious car park for the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, we headed to the lot’s north end where we quickly got onto the narrow dirt trail as it immediately started skirting the River Twiss. The trail was well-maintained as there were planks and steps to reduce the amount of muddy spots (though they were still there thanks to the rains). After about 35 minutes of hiking beneath tree cover alongside the river, we reached a bridge spanning the River Twiss where we got our first look at the First Pecca Falls. This twisting cascade tended to be concealed by foliage so we never really got a totally clean and satisfying look at the falls even though we were standing in the middle of the river on the bridge.The trail then climbed alongside the waterfall as it would go beyond the top and then in front of the Pecca Twin Falls some fifteen minutes later. This waterfall was attractive in that it had a pair of segmented falls with a slightly hidden upper tier. Shortly after the trail continued above this waterfall, we then encountered the Holly Bush Spout, which was a short waterfall spilling into an oval plunge pool. And beyond this waterfall, the trail then climbed above the cover of the trees into the windy and exposed moors, where some 10 minutes past the Holly Bush Spout, we got our first glimpse of Thornton Force.
While we were able to get full contextual views of the falls from a distance from an overlook with some benches, we’d ultimately get to the closer lookout where we could better appreciate the waterfall itself though it appeared smaller than it did from a distance. There was an interpretive sign here as well as danger signs warning not to go behind this waterfall (apparently some people managed to do that in the past). Clearly with the River Twiss in flood, we didn’t entertain that thought.At this point, the trail would continue climbing steeply up steps beyond the top of the Thornton Force and further into the moors of Raven Ray and Kingsdale. This was where we could have turned back and be content with the River Twiss Waterfalls, but we ultimately decided to keep going to make the steep price we paid a little more worth the money. By this point, the river appeared to flow more gently (we even saw some kind of series of cascades reminding me of a necklace cascade or something) while the sun made an appearance while illuminating the green hills surrounding the area.
For the next hour, we’d be hiking through a mix of rain and sporadic sun as we could see downhill towards the town of Ingleton way in the distance fronted by cow and sheep pastures. There was even a refreshments truck on one of the farm roads that doubled as part of the larger loop trail we were on. After crossing through a couple of farms and descending towards the River Doe, that was when we passed by a structure with toilets, a closed cafe, and a closed ticket window (I’m guessing this might have been an alternate entrance for the excursion), and the waterfalling resumed as the hike was now mostly downhill as we were passing by waterfalls one-by-one.The first waterfall we encountered was the short but twisting Beezley Falls. We then looked at the Triple Spout looking more like a wide singular spout thanks to the river being in full spate. Then, the trail descended more steps alongside Rival Falls before the trail descended towards a junction signposted for the Baxenghyll Gorge (some 10 minutes from Beezley Falls). This gorge was really a narrow slit where the River Doe cut deeply into the rock revealing a thunderous cascade below the bridge spanning the gorge. The trail didn’t continue on the other side of the gorge so we backtracked up to the main trail along the River Doe.
Finally, after another 15 minutes of hiking downstream of the gorge, we encountered the last of the waterfalls on this excursion called Snow Falls. This was a short and stocky multi-tiered cascade, and there was a lot of overgrowth surrounding the falls making this a pretty anticlimactic end to the waterfall series we had encountered. Then, the trail went through a fairly extensive stretch (around 20 minutes or so) of dry hiking with a few interesting stone structures (ruins?) along with some more panoramas before we eventually arrived at the small town of Ingleton. All along this stretch, we saw numerous signs asking if we had paid yet, which really made us wonder why the owners or authorities were so anxious to collect money from tourists.
Anyways, after walking through the village, we’d eventually make it back to the car park, where the relieved lady who collected the parking fee from us was quite glad to see us so she could finally go home (it was about 6:15pm when we got back; 2:25pm when we started the hike).
From Kendal, we took the A6 motorway 6 miles south towards the A65 road (just past the M6 motorway junction). Then we continued on the A65 road for 11.3 miles towards a signposted turnoff to our left leading to the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail Car park. This turnoff was about less than a mile west of the town center of Ingleton. After about 0.8 miles on the narrow rural road to the car park, that was when we were greeted by a lady collecting the fees at a gate. Beyond the gate, we were able to park in any of the spots in this spacious car park. We opted to park towards the north end since we only anticipated doing Thornton Force and not the entire 4.5-mile loop.
All in all, this drive took us rougly 40 minutes, where most of the time spent was following the caravan of cars in traffic on the A65, which was a two-lane road with very limited opportunities for passing slower vehicles, especially if pullouts (or laybys were not used by the slower drivers).
As for some geographical 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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