Address: High Force, Forest-in-Teesdale, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 0XH
Following our stay at the dog-friendly Battlesteads Hotel, we took a drive to the wonderful High Force Waterfall which is hidden in the heart of Durham Dales. We had read that the area had one of the most spectacular waterfalls that England has to offer – so we could not miss visiting for a dog walk.
As we made our way to our walk, we realised that the waterfall is not the only natural beauty in the area. On our way, we had the pleasure of driving through miles of vast landscapes. As you drive through you can’t help but feel you are trespassing on nature. Apart from the one or two cars that we passed, the only other company we had were the free-roaming sheep that were controlling the unwanted vegetation on the lands.
To our amazement, the speed limit is 70 mph along the roads which seemed crazy as the sheep would just wander out into the roads (which move as soon as you approach them) and there were also several sharps turns along the way.
Also why you would want to speed through such beautiful scenery is beyond me, no matter how many times you travel along those roads, I can never imagine you would get bored of the setting and all it has to offer.
Throughout our drive Yianni and Yoko sat up looking out the window, causing the discussion of “do you think they are amazed at what they are seeing” and “I bet they are daydreaming of running free through the fields and smelling the different scents on offer”. You know the normal conversations you have when you have a dog!
We stopped several times along our route so that we could take it all in and to take advantage of the peace and quiet. At first, the silence is deafening, as when you visit places like this you realise how noisy your life can be living in an urban setting – sounds of the road, TV and radios, the typing of computer keys, public transport etc. You forget how nice it is to be in silence sometimes.
When we arrived at High Force we were surprised at how busy it was as the roads were so quiet. The car park is fairly large and you do need to pay to park so remember to bring your parking change. There are also toilets, which are perfect if you have had a long drive.
Once you have parked you will need to purchase your tickets for the waterfall and these can be purchased in the refreshments hut next to the hotel or at the entrance of the walkway to the waterfall. The tickets are £1.50 per Adult and 50p per child and dogs go free! These charges are in place so that the area can be maintained.
You can visit the bottom of the waterfall and the top. We decided on seeing the bottom first. To get there you will need to cross the road from the car park and it will be on your right of the road there is a pay booth. When visiting the bottom of the waterfall you are asked to keep your dogs on their leads.
The walk along to the waterfall is fairly short - around 10 minutes. As you walk along the walkway you are surrounded by the sound of the flowing water and sights of the trees growing off from the hillside and around. When we reached the waterfall we instantly knew why so many people had told us to visit!
There are steps down to the rocks where the pool from the waterfall meets the river. We sat mesmerised by the power of the waterfall while Yianni and Yoko pulled as they wanted to go and explore it. Well, Yoko would get to the edge to realise its water and turn back! As we sat we were surprised that we could see the people who had ventured to the top so close to the waterfall.
Before we visited I check out some history of the area. In the Carboniferous Period (about 330 million years ago) the North Pennines laid under a shallow tropical sea and the crinoids, corals and shell-fish remains accumulated on the seabed, which eventually hardened into limestone. This limestone is the grey rocks which sit in the lower half of the waterfall and if you look closely at them when you are at the viewpoint you may find fossil fragments! Unfortunately, we didn’t find any, but we were interrupted by Yianni and Yoko naturally wanting to meet the other dogs enjoying their dog walk.
So with this, we made our way back and out to start our dog walk up to the top. This part of the walk was perfect as you walk down far away from any roads and enjoy off lead dog walking – Yianni and Yoko’s favourite! As soon as their leads were off they were running through the field next to the now calm flowing river.
Now that the river was a lot calmer Yianni was able to go and enjoy climbing the rocks and explore. Yoko dipped her paw and came running back in land. As we walked to the end of the short field we crossed the bridge to start our ascent to the waterfall's edge. Yianni and Yoko stayed off lead until we got near to the top as the walking path came close to the edge.
When we got to the top we were surprised to see that the only gate was away from the waterfall’s edge. We assumed that the people we had seen from the bottom had just climbed fencing to get a closer look! So please be aware of this if you visit and have dogs or children that like to venture off.
I stayed back from the edge as I am not great with heights but I could still see and hear the power of the water pushing through and hitting below. Being close to something so powerful was amazing and a little scary at the same time.
Following our walk to the top we walked down we continued forward past the bridge and followed the river down. Unlucky for us 15 minutes along our route, we were reminded that we were in the UK with the sudden heavy rainfall, so we had to cut our walk short and head back for shelter.
If you enjoy nature and walking this is the place for you. If you have a phobia of sheep, we wouldn’t recommend it as they are everywhere!
To end we would like to sum up what this walk will offer you in 3 words – Outstanding natural beauty.
Love from the Aurora Pets Team x