The GardenDespatches from The Satyrs’ Forest

High Force

Nestled amongst County Durham’s moors and Pennine peaks lies England’s mightiest waterfall. The waters of High Force tumble over 22 metres and 300 million years of stone, down into the plunge pool below. The falls were formed where the river Tees meets the Great Whin Sill, a tough slab of igneous rock covering much of the north of England.

When the water level is high enough, the force splits into two streams, one going the other way around the rocks — after storms, it can even overflow the plateau entirely. Alas, despite recent showers, my group were not so lucky.

The Raby family, owners of the estate, charge £2 to see the view from the base of the falls. The falls tower over any mere human who dares navigate down, demanding one’s respect and attention… and making it unmissable that, at the top of the falls, there are several people who walked their on their own via the Pennine Way, not having to pay a single dime. Drat.

Information for visitors

  • Address:
    High Force, Forest-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 0XH.
  • Getting there: Public transit connections are few and far between this far into the countryside, so your best bet is to take a scenic drive via car through the Pennines and the nineteenth-century village of Middleton-in-Teesdale.
  • Price: The Raby estate charges £2 to access via the bottom, but the top can be freely accessed by a hike along the Pennine Way.
  • Opening times: 10:00–16:00.
  • Accessibility and facilities: The trail is not, to my knowledge, wheelchair-accessible. The site contains toilets and a hotel for anyone wanting to stay the night.

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