Ever thought to yourself, where's my nearest waterfall? Explore our guide on the best UK waterfall walks.
Although they often feel like something you just see in either Hollywood films or far-flung countries, the UK has an array of amazing waterfalls with beautiful walks to boot. We’ve selected a range of waterfall based trips for a range of different walking abilities, in a variety of different settings. From the Highlands of Scotland to Port Talbot in Wales, here are our top 10 waterfall walks in the UK.
Hayburn Wyke, Yorkshire
Both a picturesque waterfall and a beautiful walk, the ancient Hayburn Wyke - a combination of the Anglo Saxon word for hunting enclosure and the Norse for ‘sea inlet or creek’ - is one of the jewels of Yorkshire. The popular route amongst walkers starts south along Cleveland way and comes back along the cinder track, which was a former railway for the nearby town of Scarborough and the village of Whitby.
This waterfall walk contains both an expansive scenic forest that's filled with a range of birdlife and a stony beach, of which the waterfall itself falls onto.
Whilst on the beach, families can also enjoy a smart technology geocache treasure hunt that has been developed by children from a local school. If this is of interest to you, find out more at www.geocaching.com. It's a fantastic family friendly waterfall walk.
Four Waterfalls Walk, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Known across the UK as ‘Waterfall Country’, this is the ideal day out if you’re looking for a selection of aquatic cascades. Although the area’s main tourist attraction is Henrhyd falls (famous for its performance as as the Batcave in The Dark Knight Rises film), the Four Falls trail, just a few miles east is regarded by many as the pinnacle of waterfalls walks Wales has to offer.
The four waterfalls, (known as Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira respectively) are all impressive in their own special way, although its highly advisable to finish with Sgwd-yr-Eira, as you will have the opportunity to walk behind the cascade and negotiate the somewhat slippery path. In the summer, it's ideal for paddling and even swimming, but it's open all year round and is a fantastic UK waterfall walk that is perfect whatever the weather.
Eas a' Chual Aluinn, Highlands, Scotland
This is one of the more difficult UK waterfall walks, but if you're an experienced hiker, it's certainly worth the effort! Deriving from the Gaelic name meaning ‘waterfall on the beautiful tresses’, Eas a’ Chual Aluin stands 200m above sea level, and is the tallest waterfall in the UK. It’s three times the height of Niagara falls, with the best vantage point at the very top of the falls, looking out over the Assynt area of the highlands and stunning view out along Loch Glencoul.
Unsurprisingly, as the highest waterfall in the country, this is a 5 hour trek that needs to be approached with caution. Although some parts of this 6 mile walk are flatter, there are parts of the terrain that are boggy, rocky and as with all walks near cliff edges, certain areas are dangerous.
During the winter it will be required that visitors use an ice axe, crampons and that they understand how to use them correctly. While this may sound like a lot to worry about, the conditions can get very difficult and your safety should always be the number one priority. Alternatively, if you’re looking for an easier way to experience Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, there is also the option to visit the waterfall via boat coming from the fishing hamlet Kylesku, with the chance to see a wide range of aquatic wildlife including seals.
Gaping Gill, Yorkshire
From the highest waterfall above the surface, to the tallest unbroken waterfall in the UK. The Yorkshire Dales’ Gaping Gill is 21km long, with 4km long Fell Beck running above ground before plunging into what is also the largest cave in the UK, with an expanse big enough to fit an entire cathedral.
Unless you are part of a caving society, experiencing Gaping Gill to its full worth can be tricky. Although there are times during the year when exploring the caves are open to the public (the late May bank holiday and a week in August), you can visit the pothole via a circular walk from the village of Clapham or alternatively along the spectacular views of Trow Gill.
Glenariff Nature Reserve, Ballymena l Northern Ireland
Considered by many as the ‘Queens of the Glens’ and the most beautiful greenery in the whole area. This forest with a waterfall will work particularly well for families, a built up 3 mile Waterfall Walk running through the woodland full of rare ferns and liverworts, then alongside the cascade itself. However as with most waterfall walks, there are a lot of steep steps as you descend down the side of the Waterfall.
Although this Water Walk is the most popular in the area, there are also three other trails. The 2,928 forest has been combined with the larger area to be known as Parkmore forest which has other smaller lakes and areas for play. It's a great UK waterfall walk for excitable and energetic children in particular!
Aberdulais Falls, Neath Port Talbot
Both one of South Wales most stunning landmarks and Europe's largest electricity generating Waterfalls, the Aberdulais Falls and Waterwheel is a fascinating trip into the country’s industrial past, making it one of the best UK waterfall walks.
Found on the River Dulais and formed by Pennant Sandstone, the gorge was carved by meltwater during the Ice age, and is home to buzzing wildlife and stunning views of Neath and Dulais Valley. To experience the Waterfalls, and the neighbouring Tin Works and the explore surrounding Neath area to their fullest, the best route to take is the Craig Gwlady’s walk, which takes just over 2 hours and is suitable for the whole family.
High Force Waterfalls, County Durham
With origins dating back over 300 million years, this forest with a waterfall has both been granted the prestigious title as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also a European Geopark.
Situated in the North Pennines in the Forest-in-Teesdale, it is an area brimming with rare flowers, deers and rabbits. To experience not only High Force, but also the River Tees and the neighbouring Low Force Waterfall (also famous for its role in the Oscar nominated film “1917”) take the Low to High Force walk across North Teesdale.
Steall, Glen Nevis, Highlands, Scotland
‘The White Spout’ as it is known in Gaelic, is Scotland's second tallest waterfall after Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, standing at 120 metres above surface. Although it is one of the biggest waterfalls in the UK, Steall Waterfall is based in the lower lying parts of Glen Nevis, with surroundings managed by the John Muir Trust, the best to view the waterfall and the surrounding buzzing wildlife is via the Glen to Locan walk, which takes you along a path that runs through the Nevis Gorge. As it is a waterfall walk, albeit one of the easier one, some of the terrain can get rocky and very slippery, so wearing the correct footwear is a must.
Hardraw Force, Wensleydale
Made famous by the 1991 film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (and that Bryan Adams video) Hardraw Force is Robin’s chosen method to shower, as seen by Maid Marian. Located in the grounds of the Yorkshire Dales’ historic Green Dragon Inn and forged in the limestone gorge of Hardraw Scar, with a length of 30m this is the largest single drop waterfall in England.
To get the very best waterfall walk the area has to offer, take the circular route from the village of Hawes.
Aira Force, Cumbria
Believed by many to be one of the most spectacular views in the whole of the Lake District, the Aira Force is a waterfall that needs to be both seen and heard to be believed. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, the commonly seen best route for this waterfall walk is via the Gowbarrow Trail.
Not only will you hear the thunder roar of the 65ft waterfall from some distance away, but you will also enjoy the grassy glades and towering woodland scenery as you walk through, and upon reaching the water, you’ll be will be met with a superb view over the Ullswater lake.
Also, on this trail you’ll have the chance to come across Lyulph’s Tower, a hunting lodge built in the 1780s, and the memorial seat which will provide further stunning views of the area.
One Final Waterfall, London
Whilst this is not a waterfall walk per se, if you are looking for a waterfall in London, why not check out Kensington’s Kyoto Gardens. Located in West London’s Holland Park, the garden and waterfall were built in 1992 for the Japan Festival that was taking place in the city, and has been the park’s main attraction ever since. It’s free to enter all year round, but it’s worth visiting in springtime, with the blossom in bloom. A must see if you are in the area.
There are loads of fantastic UK waterfall walks that can be enjoyed by the whole family, as well as some more difficult hikes! Whether you're looking for a great place to visit, or want to find a waterfall near you, this list has some real beauties.