If you asked most people where the best waterfalls are in the UK, the North East probably wouldn’t be their first answer. Fair enough, as there are some fine examples in Wales, Scotland, the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
That said, there are some stunning waterfalls in and around Northumberland, County Durham and Teesdale. They may not be the tallest in the country (although High Force is close) but they certainly are pretty.
Here are my favourites…
Roughting Linn is probably my favourite spot of all in Northumberland. Tucked away in a little amphitheatre, the falls can be quite tricky to find unless you know where to look. It is probably one of the prettiest and most photogenic waterfalls up here – difficult to find much information on it as it’s just next door to some very impressive cup and ring marks which tend to take the limelight.
To get to Roughting Linn park up at the crossroads on the first map below and take the track towards Roughting Linn Farm. Keep your eyes open for a narrow path to your left next to a very small stream – this track will take you downhill and loop back around to the waterfall. If you can hear the waterfall to your left you’ve gone too far (it’s almost impossible to climb down from here) so retrace your steps until you find the right track. I’ve marked the route on the second map below.
Davidson’s Linn takes a good hike to reach – it’s right in the heart of the Cheviots. Definitely worth the hike, Davidson’s Linn is particularly impressive after rainfall. Unseen in the photo below, there is a second element to the fall, just around the rock face to the left. This second part is pretty much non-existent if water levels are low, but either way it’s great fun scrambling up the sides.
There are a number of routes to Davidson’s Linn so an Ordnance Survey Map (OL16) is a must. It’s nestled in the triangle of Windy Gyle, Bloodybush Edge and Cairn Hill, the waterfall is on the Usway Burn. The three key routes into the area are from Cocklawfoot, Linhope or Barrowburn – my favourite route. The Barrowburn route takes you up and over Barrow Law then across to Uswayford before joining Salter’s Road from the East. One of the reasons it’s my preferred route is there are plenty of options to make it a circular walk, including via the amazing views from Windy Gyle.
Hindhope Linn was an almost accidental discovery for me a few years ago – on the hunt for undiscovered (by me) waterfalls in the area I saw it marked on the Ordnance Survey Map near Forest Drive at Kielder Forest. Hadn’t heard of it before but I thought it would be worth dropping by on my way into Kielder one day – and I’m glad I did. A short walk up through the forest leads you up a a seemingly dead-end trail to the waterfall. The whole area is very pleasant and well worth exploring.
To get to Hindhope Linn, take the turn for Forest Drive off the A68 between Byrness and Rochester. After you’ve turned onto the track, look out for a parking area on the left very early on. Park up here, take the track over the burn and past the farm, then turn left up the signposted path to Hindhope Linn. Follow the signs from here and you can’t really go wrong.
Hareshaw Linn, along with Linhope Spout, is probably the most visited and well known waterfall in Northumberland. But for a good reason – it’s a wonderful walk up the gorge, criss-crossing the river over half a dozen great little footbridges and along a well managed footpath. Look out for the penny stump on the way up and be sure to add a coin if you can. I’ve been up to Hareshaw Linn a number of times and each time it has looked different – it really is a great experience.
Getting to Hareshaw Linn is easy as it’s so well managed. Head to Bellingham and park up in the car park just to the east of the bridge over the Hareshaw Burn (opposite the Police Station). Head north up the trail and you’ll be led through magical glades, past the old dam and up through the impressive ravine. Full details of the walk can be found here.
Crammel Linn sits on the River Irthing, which acts as the border between Northumberland and Cumbria at this point. It’s one of the largest waterfalls in the North East, and quite probably the widest. When water levels are low to normal, the falls are vertically split in two; when the rain has been falling it can become one behemoth – a sight to behold.
Head along the A69 towards Greenhead, then follow the turn off up through Gilsand and past Gilsland Spa. Park up at the point indicated on the map below and walk down the pretty straight path to the falls. If you’re feeling adventurous there is an abandoned fighter jet just to the north west of where you can park (marked on the map) which requires a bit of scrambling over ‘moon grass’ but is worth a look.
Ashgill Force is in the eastern reaches of Cumbria, but is close enough to the North East for me to include it in here. And it’s such a great place it would be criminal to ignore it… The waterfall drops an impressive 55 feet almost directly under the arched road bridge above. This place can be quite a popular spot with climbers so it’s probably best planning a visit mid-week when it’ll be quieter.
To get to Ashgill Force head to Garrigill near Alston. Look out for the curve over a small bridge next to a farm a little south of Garrigill (on the B6277). Park up nearby, then the easiest route down is to take the path downstream between the bridge and farm, and follow it down to the river then back upstream to the waterfall.
Like Hareshaw Linn, Linhope Spout is very well know in the area. Sitting up ion the Cheviots, it’s fairly easy to get to and has a great flat grassy area near the falls that’s perfect for a family picnic or spot of sunbathing. Very much a ‘spout’, the waterfall more pours down the rock face than falls. Still an impressive sight though, and due to the nature of the surrounding rocks it’s great for climbing and scrambling right next to the waterfall.
Head along the A697 and turn off at the road for Ingram and Linhope, just north of Powburn. Keep going along this road as far as you can – you’ll get to a point where there is a sign stating you can go no further just before Hartside Farm – and park up on the verge. You then need to walk the rest of the road into Linhope and follow the signs for Linhope Spout from there. I’d recommend using an Ordnance Survey Map (OL16), particularly if it’s your first visit.
Another waterfall, which so many people miss, is Harthope Linn up in Harthope Valley. The reason many people miss this is that there is a smaller, and arguably prettier waterfall a little further upstream from Harthope Linn. To find the ‘real’ Harthope Linn, take a left at the sheepfold (check out the OS map to see what I mean) and work your way through the undergrowth (careful of the drop). If you can see it easily from the path you’re at the wrong one…
So there you have it – my top seven waterfalls in the North East of England. Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments…
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