Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Waterfalls in the UK | Top 10 Waterfall Experiences In The British Isles

From mountainous cascades to tumbling rivers on rocky ravines, here's our handy guide to the most interesting and visually-striking waterfalls the United Kingdom has to offer

The best waterfalls in the UK are all inspiring in their own unique way. Fast moving, glittering in the sunlight, maybe even a bit dangerous; there aren’t many more rewarding sights than a waterfall at the end of a hike. This summer, head into the wilderness and find yourself a waterfall; nature’s very own action film.

Not only are waterfalls especially fascinating to look at (especially if they precede or are preceded by some rocky rapids), they can also serve as a calming, restorative part of your day. The white noise of running water is well known to relax the mind and encourage clear thinking, and there’s certainly a meditative quality to watching the water run over smooth rock, worn down through so many years. Waterfalls really do wear their history.

If you’re planning to set off on a waterfall pilgrimage, and have a real-life connecting-with-nature-like-in-the-films moment of your own, then you’d better pick a fall that’s worth all the effort to get to it. Luckily for you, we’ve taken some of the guesswork out of the equation and rounded up the 10 best waterfalls in the UK . So take a gander, pick your favourite, and off you go. In no particular order, here’s our pick of the best waterfalls in the United Kingdom. 

High Force

The River Tees plunges 70 feet to form High Force, one of the UK’s most popular waterfalls.
(Credit: Gordon Williams)

Location: Durham, England

Adults: £2.50, Children: £1.00, Under-5s: Free // Parking: £2.00


In the depths of England’s north-east, the River Tees dramatically falls 70 feet over a precipice to form High Force; one of the most magical waterfalls in the UK, with one of the coolest names to boot. Despite not being England’s tallest waterfall, High Force sees the most volume of water ‘in one drop’ out of all the falls in the country. This makes Durham’s famous cascade technically the largest. With its prehistoric nature, it’s a feat to behold both from a distance and from just a few steps away. 

Getting to High Force is pretty simple. A well-kept path on the north side of the river leads you down an appropriately scenic route where the sound of the water crashes through the air. It’ll take you to the base of the fall where its size and natural wonder can be looked upon in all its glory.

Despite High Force’s relatively remote location, attractions such as Barnard Castle and the source of the River Tyne can be found pretty nearby. If you’re heading off straight from High Force, Barnard Castle is an hour-and-a-half’s cycle away or a 25 minute drive south east of the waterfall (if you’re after a backstory to that national scandal). Alternatively, the source of the River Tyne can be found just a half-hour’s drive in the opposite direction. Ideal if you’re looking to keep your day trip river-themed.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

Pistyll Rhaeadr is seen as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: Powys, Wales

Free Access // Parking: £5 (weekdays), £10 (weekends)


The Welsh River Afon Disgynfa cascades 240 feet in three stages to form one of the Seven Wonders of Wales, Pistyll Rhaeadr. The waterfall is a major point of interest in the Berwyn Mountains due to its height, geology, and outstanding natural beauty. Translating to English as ‘The Lake of Cheese’, Llyn Lluncaws sits above Pistyll Rhaeadr and features as part of a waterfall-themed hiking route.

At the base of the fall, hillsides, grassy terrain, and quarry spoil make for a varied three-mile circuit leading to the waterfall and back to the car park. Handy. The Tan-y-Pistyll café is a welcoming restaurant and tea room and features a pagoda overlooking Pistyll Rhaeadr. Roast dinner views don’t get much more memorable than this.

From the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochant, follow Waterfall Street (no, really) for four miles and you’ll be warmly welcomed by one of Wales’ favourite falls. Access to the base of the falls is a short walk from the car park, with clearly marked pathways to help intrepid explorers out. A gate marking the entrance to the falls is accompanied by a box assigned for upkeep donations. Be sure to keep an eye out if you’re feeling philanthropic.

Aira Force

Aira Force is the Lake District’s most popular waterfall (Credit:
Ian Cylkowski)

Location: The Lake District, England

Free Access // Parking from £4.50


With absolutely nothing in common with either the Nike trainer or the US President’s plane, Aira Force is one of the UK’s best waterfalls. It’s genuinely spectacular, with a natural charm entirely of its own.

Aira Beck, one of the Lake District’s many hundreds of streams, meanders, rises and flows through a system of nature’s best work before falling 66 feet down a steep ravine, known as Aira Force. Commonly cited as the waterfall of The Lake District, Aira Force attracts over 300,000 visitors per year. It’s this level of popularity that has led The National Trust to recommending that visitors try their best to avoid peak times, like bank holidays and school-summer holiday weekends. 

The National Trust’s recommended hiking routes around Aira Force vary in distance from half a mile to four miles – but, of course, there’s no stopping you walking further if you’d like. Access to the falls varies depending on which car park you decide on using. The National Trust also has a guide to help you choose the right spot for the day. 

Hardraw Force

Hardraw Force is never far from a pint (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: Yorkshire, England (The Green Dragon Inn)

Adults: £4.00, Children: £2.00, Under-5s: Free // Free Parking


And then they said “there’s a waterfall in a pub!” Can you believe it? How ridicu– For real. Waterfall in a pub. Technically it’s in the grounds of a pub, but Hardraw Force in Yorkshire is no further than 100 yards from a pint, which is good enough for us, and even better for your storytelling. The Green Dragon Inn is run separately from Hardraw Force but the pub caters for guests all year round, including those out for a sighting of Yorkshire’s finest fall. 

A single 100 foot drop takes the Hardraw Beck cascading from the edge on a naturally occurring overhang, and makes for an awe-inspiring spectacle. The gorge surrounding the fall, Hardraw Scar, has attracted brass bands and musicians of the like for over two decades due to its natural amphitheatrical qualities (and also because, let’s face it, it’s one of the coolest venues ever).

Pints, music, natural beauty; Hardraw Force rivals a Thursday night in Shoreditch for the place to be this summer and, personally, we’re saying the waterfall wins this hands down. Access to Hardraw Force is easy – even easier with the knowledge that a cold beverage is waiting for you on the other side – with clearly marked paths. If the official shop happens to be closed then access will be through a coin-hungry turnstile. It’s less than a mile’s hike in total to see the best of the drop.

The Falls of Clyde

The Falls of Clyde form a backdrop to a hub of Scottish wildlife (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: Lanarkshire, Scotland

Free Access // Free Parking


The River Clyde is sent tumbling in four stages to form The Falls of Clyde, the prettiest part of the prettiest place in Lanarkshire. Known for its extensive wildlife roster, The Falls of Clyde have formed a backdrop worthy of a Disney animation for a long, long, time.

The surrounding scenic woodland cosies itself around the falls, making The Falls of Clyde an essential stop for anyone even passing through Lanarkshire. Its beauty has been no secret either, with poets such as William Wordsworth recalling both the falls and their surrounding environment in poetic verse way back in 1802. The Georgian-era equivalent of a sleek Instagram story, you’ll definitely want to snap a shot of the River Clyde as it spills over on your visit.

Late winter for otters, late spring for badgers, summer for the wildflowers and autumn for those gleaming golden views; access to the falls is welcomed all year round during daylight hours. You’ll find The Falls of Clyde a mile south of Lanark, with a nice stroll through New Lanark village forming a large part of the route. You’ll find some steps to the right of the Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre, which you’ll have to climb before reaching the reserve site of the falls.

Eas a’ Chual Aluinn

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Location: Sutherland, Scotland

Boat Tour (for complete view)

Adults: £22.00, Children: £11.00, Under-3s: Free


No matter what any other sign, leaflet or website says, Eas a’ Chual Aluinn is the tallest waterfall in the UK. Got that? At its largest, Eas a’ Chual Aluinn’s 660-foot plummet makes the drop more than three times taller than the world-famous Niagara Falls – so where’s all the love for our Scottish cascade? Answer: right here.

It’s not so much the waterfall alone, but the entire experience that comes with exploring the region that made putting this one on our list a no-brainer. A moderately challenging 6km hike in the Scottish Highlands, but one where you’ll be rewarded with a visual treat that’s like nothing else in the UK. Experiencing the crashes of the fall and all the mountainous terrain that surrounds it. Word of warning. A decoy waterfall (Eas an t Strutha Ghil) has been known to fool – and disappoint – hikers expecting more from the UK’s tallest, so watch out and persevere until you see a waterfall you’re satisfied with. We promise it’s there. 

Details of the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn hiking routes are available here, something we highly recommend you read before venturing out this way.

To catch a glimpse of this epic waterfall in full flow you’ll might want to consider taking a completely different approach: boat. Being the UK’s tallest waterfall, Eas a’ Chual Aluinn is visible from quite a distance, but due to its remote location in the Scottish Highlands you’ll maybe want to take a cruise departing from the Kylesku Hostel on Loch Glencoul. It’ll add something unique to the experience and, perhaps more importantly, make your life a bit easier.

Booking information for the boat:

Aber Falls

Perhaps the most visually striking of all the waterfalls on our list, Aber Falls is a sight to behold. (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: Snowdonia, Wales

Free Access // Parking: £5


Snowdonia, the ultimate Welsh playground, home to over 800 glorious square miles of the finest vistas, valleys and waterfalls. We’ve already written loads about the waterfalls of Snowdonia, and here we’re just going focus on Aber Falls. It’s one of the most dramatic and best waterfalls in the UK, not just Wales.

As the Afon Goch reaches a turn of igneous rock, the river tumbles 120 feet and splits into two tributaries, making for a waterfall that looks way more like a painting than any natural accident possibly should. But hey, isn’t all nature accidental? OK, let’s keep philosophy out of this. This waterfall’s got us thinking about the nature of nature, and philosophy and stuff. Not every fall on this list can say that.  

A popular hiking route to Aber Falls and back clocks in at just under an hour and adds just under 5km to your count for the day. Though more challenging routes exist (as always), this is the journey we recommend taking if you’re only really in it for the waterfall. It’s one of the shortest routes in Snowdonia and accessible for people of all abilities, and accommodates conventional wheelchairs and pushchairs. The route is clear from the car park, which you’ll need to bring coins for.

Steall Falls

Harry Potter and the Really Cool Scottish Waterfall, am-I-right? (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: Fort William, Scotland

Free Access // Parking: £1-3


Scotland’s second highest waterfall is just as much of a natural wonder as its first; Steall Falls plunges 390 feet in Glen Nevis, Fort William. Backdropped by the Nevis Gorge mountains, Steall Falls has cemented itself as a visual spectacle with a Harry Potter seal of approval. The waterfall features in two of the seven films about the boy wizard (maybe you’ve heard of him). Next time you sit down and watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, be sure to keep an eye out for one of the best waterfalls in the UK. 

Getting to Steall Falls can be just as rewarding as seeing the waterfall itself. You can make your way to it via one of the nicest short walks in the Scottish Highlands. Here, a well-walked rocky terrain makes for a clear route that starts at the Glen Nevis car park. At the furthest end of the car park you’ll find a signpost for a bunch of other cool stuff in the Fort William area, but it’s also the starting point for this particular route. The journey to Steall Falls can be pretty inspiring. On a good day weather-wise (not guaranteed in Scotland), you’ll be surrounded by sunlight as it bursts through trees and bounces off the streams. On the best days, you’ll be drenched in the finest rain the Scottish Highlands have to offer. Sounds more like it, doesn’t it?

The Falls of Glomach

The Falls of Glomach are secluded like no other waterfall, but a worthy reward for a 12km hike. (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

Free Access


Feeling up for a 12 mile hike? We promise there’s a really big Scottish waterfall at the end of this one. You keen? Come on. Let’s go. In the mountainous depths of Ross-shire, isolated but far from alone, the Falls of Glomach can be seen crashing down an immense 370 foot drop; piercing the Highlands like a knife through a painting.

Golden eagles, red deer, and wild goats make up just a fraction of the ecosystem around The Falls of Glomach, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some of the most truly wild wildlife Scotland can offer.  A hike to this blockbuster of a waterfall might have you suspicious that you’re actually on your way to a Jedi training camp with Yoda, and though we can’t rule out any hidden Star Wars-eque resting spots, we can guarantee you’ll feel the force of the Scottish Highlands as you gaze upon this wondrous piece of nature. 

A guided tour to the Falls of Glomach is available via the National Trust for Scotland. It’s advised you bring a full set of mountain gear for a hike to the Falls of Glomach. With no phone reception and a low chance of seeing anyone else on the near-seven-hour Falls of Glomach journey, we’d recommend that you take a friend with you on this venture, as a helping hand never hurt anyone – especially on a hike of this nature. Occasional signposts decorate the path, but you’ll need to visit the Ranger Office at Morvich Farm just before you set off for all the essential details and advice. 

Gaping Gill

Gaping Gill requires a 365-foot winch descent to explore it – if you’re feeling brave, this waterfall in a cave is for you. (Credit: Getty Images)

Location: North Yorkshire, England

Winch: £15


It might be known more for its caving (it is a cave, after all), but what separates the Yorkshire Dales’ Gaping Gill from other underground excursions across the UK is the waterfall you’ll find within the depths of its geology. Often cited as the UK’s biggest underground chamber, someone reportedly tried to fly a hot air balloon down here once. It’s massive. 

The waterfall of Gaping Gill consists of the Fell Beck stream falling into the depths of the cave. The thunderous water here can echo around the cathedral-like cave walls of Gaping Gills, making for an unforgettable sensory experience for anyone lucky enough to be exploring the cave at the time. 

Getting to the waterfall isn’t exactly simple. It’s an hour and a half’s journey in and of itself, but we think it’s there to be enjoyed just as much as the ultimate destination. Before a 365 foot winch descent you’ll have to trek from North Yorkshire’s Clapham village, past Ingleborough Cave (which is worth a stop if you have the time) and then there’s an hour’s trek up Trow Gill (a magnificent limestone gorge).

You’ve probably got some questions about the winch, and who can blame you? 365 feet sounds like a lot, and that’s because it is. The winch descent is perfect for thrill-seekers and probably a nightmare for the faint-hearted. The Gaping Gill winch is open to the public in the late May and August bank holiday weekends (weather permitting), so plan in advance. All the information you need regarding the winch, including advice, rules and all the important stuff can be found on the Bradford Pothole Club website.

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