School holidays started (yippee), not for Husband but it was the best of both worlds when Son and I tagged along on his work trip to Co. Durham. A few meetings en route, we opted to break up the journey a little more with a stop at High Force waterfall in Teesdale. Husband (in another lifetime at school) was here before, had good memories and fancied a return visit.
We didn’t check the timings or make too many plans for this stop, pulled into the car park at 4.15 and breathed a sigh of relief the main gate to the waterfall didn’t close until 5 pm. However…..the very nice man working on the gate let us know his colleague had already gone ahead to lock everything up, but if we hurried we could still see the waterfall. He didn’t charge us the entrance fee – at £1.50 each and £3.00 for parking it wasn’t too much to worry about – and we quickly set off. Advice here – arrive early, don’t bet on them keeping everything open until 5, they obviously like to get home promptly.
Time was of the essence so we didn’t bother about walking boots or any of that stuff, raced across the road and down the path to the waterfall.
This is a gorgeous place, lush and green with lovely woodland and a very well maintained path. Even shod as I was, walking presented no problems. We strolled, listening to birdsong and soaking up that peaceful atmosphere.
Son scampered and climbed, having been cooped up in the car for a couple of hours this was perfect for him. Loads of steep banks and places to explore meant he was in his element.
Soon we heard the rushing of water and could see High Force in the distance. It is impressive and pours over rocks 21 metres into a rock pool below. We were still able to access the wooden viewing platform at the base of the falls, stood for a while and took it all in.
This is not the highest waterfall in England apparently, but it does have the largest volume of water falling over an unbroken drop.
We were disappointed the gates were closed early but still did get a good view of the waterfall. However we couldn’t access the viewpoint slightly lower than ours and also weren’t able to climb the steps to the top of High Force. Husband remembered on his school trip going up there and dangling his legs over the falls. Not sure with Health and Safety on the agenda nowadays that would be possible but it would have been nice to hike up and see for ourselves.
On the way back to the car park Husband noticed a sign by the exit giving directions to the waterfall by a different route if the gates are shut. We decided to try this, it was a public path and after a change of shoes into something a bit more sturdy we set off.
A descent of 80 odd steps and we were in a lovely meadow beside a fast flowing river.
Across a bridge we found the reasonably good path towards the waterfall. Fairly level and all looked good until Son and I realised we had acquired a significant number of insect bites. They were ferocious, we carried on but so did the insects, common sense kicked in and I questioned how sane it would be to continue. This was day one of our short break, I didn’t fancy nursing a series of itchy and ugly bites over the next few days.
Reluctantly we turned back having only completed about a third of the walk. We retraced our steps across the meadow (rather speedily to attempt to beat the insects a bit), back up to road level and our car. Disappointing we hadn’t managed to see High Force from all angles but we pleased we had seen it – it is a beauty.