The natural beauty of Aysgarth Falls has attracted visitors for centuries. Early descriptions were recorded in the writings of William Wordsworth, and painters JMW Turner and John Ruskin were both inspired to sketch the scenery offered by this unique location.
The River Ure carves through limestone shelves to create three distinct falls, recognised as the Upper, Mid and Lower Aysgarth Falls. Today, the Falls remain an excellent destination for visitors of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, either as a picnic spot, or as the start of a walking route.
Location: Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre, Leyburn DL8 3T
Ample parking outside the National Park information centre caters to a range of visitors from hikers to families. There is even an EV charging point in the carpark. Afternoons can get busy, depending on the season, so it is recommended to arrive early. There is also a bus running from Leyburn to Hawes which allows passengers to alight where Church Bank Lane meets the A684, just a ten minute walk from the river. There are various accommodation options in the village of Aysgarth, for those wishing to make the falls their base for a longer stay, including the perfectly located Aysgarth Falls Campsite.
The walking route to the Upper Falls is just 350m from the National Park Centre car park, and is signposted. On the way, visitors pass through aged woodland managed by the National Park Authority, which offers a broad variety of seasonal wildflowers. The Upper Falls has plenty of space next to the river to accommodate picnics, although there are no benches. The falls are their most dramatic after heavy rainfall, as the Ure swells considerably, transforming the falls into a gushing torrent.
Ordnance Survey Map of Wensleydale & Upper Wharfedale
The Landranger map of Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale is a must-have for your next trip to the area. Landranger maps are perfect for extensive hikes, cycling, and driving holidays.
On the walk back down past the carpark to Mid Falls, visitors with extra time to spare may wish to take the detour up to St Andrews Church. The 19th Century reconstruction makes quite the landmark in such a rural area. The Mid Falls can only be seen at an angle from the viewing platform, which offers an excellent opportunity for photos.
Continuing down the path to Lower Falls, which is less than a kilometre from the car park, viewers may catch a glimpse of the dales stretching down the valley into the distance. The Aysgarth Falls are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and sightings of roe deer are not unusual. There has also been a project to reintroduce dormice into the area, which has been highly successful, although it is unlikely that visitors will catch a glimpse of these nocturnal rodents. The Lower Falls is remarkable due to the rock formations of the limestone over which the Ure rumbles and crashes. There is also plenty of space by the side of the river for picnics, and those daring enough may want to attempt some wild swimming. Swimmers should be warned that the flow of the Ure can become very strong after recent rains, and although this makes for an even more impressive view of the falls, it also raises the risk of wild swimming.
The walk to all three falls is relatively short and not too challenging, making it the perfect excursion for families with small children. But for those looking for a more challenging walk, the nearby Castle Bolton provides an excellent destination on a circular route via Caperby. A map is recommended for this 11km route, and one can be purchased from the National Park Centre on arrival. Bolton Castle boasts a café and restaurant, making a good halfway point on the route.
Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre
The National Park Centre should be the first port of call for any visitors, as the friendly staff can give advice and suggestions, as well as leaflets and brochures about the local area. OS maps are available to purchase, as well as books, souvenirs and clothing.
The Coppice Café, directly next to the National Park Centre, comes well-recommended serving hot and cold drinks, scones, cakes and light lunches.