A renowned walk by the falls, on a route first opened for tourists in 1885.
Distance 5 miles (8km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Ascent/gradient 689ft (210m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Good paths and tracks, with some steps throughout
Landscape Two wooded valleys with waterfalls, and section of ancient track with wide view
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales - Southern & Western
Start/finish SD 693733
Dog friendliness Dogs should be on leads by waterfalls
Parking Pay-and-display car park in centre of Ingleton, or at start of Waterfalls Walk
Public toilets Ingleton
Notes Admission charge for Waterfalls Walk
© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153
1 Leave the car park in the centre of Ingleton at its western end. Turn right along the road and follow the 'Waterfalls Walk' signs, which take you downhill and across the river to the entrance to the falls. Walk through the car park, pay the admission fee, and go through two kissing gates. The path goes downwards then ascends steps. Cross Manor Bridge and continue upstream, now with the river on your left, to Pecca Bridge.
2 Cross the bridge, and turn right, back on to the left bank of the stream. Continue to follow the path as it climbs uphill to reach Thornton Force. The path winds slightly away from the stream and up steps to pass the waterfall, and then takes you over Ravenray Bridge, and up more steps, to a kissing gate on to Twisleton Lane.
3 Turn right along the rough lane. Go through two gates, after which the track becomes metalled. Walk past the farm buildings, following 'Waterfalls Walk' signs. Go over a gated stone stile and along the track, then though a kissing gate and on to a road.
4 Go straight across the road, following the sign to Skirwith. Follow the path as it bends right, still following the 'Waterfall Walk' sign. Go through a gate, then another into woodland. The path passes Beezley Falls and Rival Falls. A little further down, take a path to the left on to a footbridge with a good view of the deep and narrow Baxenghyll Gorge. Continue to follow the path, which takes you to another footbridge.
5 Cross the bridge, go through a kissing gate, and then follow the path as it bends, at one point almost at water level, then going away from the water into trees. The path eventually brings you though former quarry workings. Continue through a hand gate on to a lane.
6 Beyond the gate follow the lane that soon enters Ingleton.
7 Bear right, through the houses and back into the centre of the village, bearing left to pass under the railway viaduct and back to the car park.
This is one of the classic walks of the Yorkshire Dales, and was first opened to visitors in 1885. A workaday town, and today one of the Dales' honeypots, Ingleton shows its mining and quarrying history in its buildings. It became a place for tourists to visit when the railway arrived in 1859 - the viaduct almost cuts the village in half. The entrepreneurs who developed the Waterfalls Walk in the 1880s, and charged for the privilege of taking the route, were tapping into the start of one of the most profitable of industries in the Dales.
The spectacle of the Waterfalls Walk begins in Swilla Glen, where the River Twiss passes through a deep gorge, with rapids and whirlpools giving a taste of what is to come. The first of the cascades soon follows - Pecca Falls, where the river tumbles over a shelf of the hard greywacke stone, eating away at the softer slate beds below. Beyond, the narrow glen opens out as you approach Thornton Force. Unlike the other falls on the walk, this is not a series of rapids confined within the valley, but a majestic plunge of water 40ft (12m) from its lip of hard limestone into a pool gouged into the slate beds below, which have been heaved into a vertical position. This is one of the classic spots for studying the geology of the area; the different strata are conveniently exposed. A glacier came to this part of the valley - the tip of its nose reached just above the point where the water now falls. Here it deposited the mass of boulder clay it had pushed in front of it; the remains can still be made out beside the fall.
The route beyond follows Twisleton Lane, an ancient packhorse route on the line of the Roman road from Bainbridge to Ingleton. Above you are Twisleton Scars, great bands of limestone interspersed with horizontal bands of shale. One of the best limestone pavements in the area is to be found at the top of the Scars. The walk then joins the second of the waterfall-filled valleys, this time of the River Doe, on its way back to Ingleton. The woodland here is some of the oldest and most unspoiled in the area, with ancient oak trees flanking the waterfalls. Eventually the route leaves the river and comes out into a former limestone quarry - there is still quarrying in the area, for the greywacke, which is used for road surfacing. Ingleton also once supported a number of cotton mills, powered by water diverted in mill races from the rivers.
As you would expect, Ingleton is well-served with places to eat and drink. There are refreshments available at the entrance to the Waterfalls Walk and beyond Pecca Falls. Among the recommended cafés are Bernies, Fountain Café and Curlew Crafts and Tea Rooms. Inglenook Chippy serves traditional fish and chips. The best of the pubs is the Wheatsheaf.
Once growing in profusion in the area, the Lady's Slipper orchid is one of the rarest of Britain's endangered plants. They died out largely because of people digging them up to plant in their gardens, or taking the flowers for their collections of pressed specimens. English Nature has now reintroduced this beautiful plant, which has large maroon-coloured flowers, with a yellow lip and red spots inside - resembling the footwear that gives it its common name. Its leaves are pale green, with definite ribs to them. It is a characteristic plant of open woodland like that beside the waterfalls. Seeds were propagated at Kew Gardens, and the seedlings were planted in a protected area.
A visit to White Scar Cave will take you underground into one of the country's largest caverns, discovered in 1923. An 80-minute guided tour passes underground waterfalls and gives you the chance to study the massive stalagmites and stalactites, some with names such as Devil's Tongue, Judge's Head and Arum Lily. The entrance is on the B6255, just north of Ingleton.