Three Great British Waterfall Walks: Ingleton, Clyde and Aberdare

The Ingleton Waterfalls Trail in the Yorkshire Dales, the Falls of Clyde near New Lanark and the Four Waterfalls Walk in the Brecon Beacons near Aberdare are arguably the most scenic waterfall walks in Great Britain.

Waterfall Walks: Bonnington Linn, Falls of Clyde
Bonnington Linn, Falls of Clyde

Waterfalls provide a double joy: the appearance of the splashing white water and the sometimes almost deafening noise of water hurtling over a precipice and crashing down.

If viewing waterfalls can be part of an attractive woodland walk, then so much the better. And this is exactly what is offered here by my choice of three great British waterfall walks.

I have undertaken the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail many times, and at all different seasons of the year, and have never been disappointed. Similarly, I have walked the Falls of Clyde from New Lanark many times, including when the river has been in full flood – quite an experience.

However, the Four Waterfalls Walk was a new experience to me a few weeks ago. It proved a calm, relaxing way to spend an afternoon after taking the nearby Phoenix Zip Wire Experience earlier in the day.

All of these three waterfall walks involve some steep inclines, stepped sections and often slippery conditions, particularly after recent rainfall. Good walking boots or shoes are essential and some navigational awareness is desirable. Having said that, both my wife and I are septuagenarians and we have had no great difficulties in completing these walks, although not too briskly!

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail

Waterfall Walks: Pecca Falls
Pecca Falls

The trail starts near the centre of Ingleton in the south-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales. Entry is via the Broadwood ticket office (£8 for adults and £4 for children), where there is some free parking. If you are feeling peckish, then I can recommend the café near the entrance.

Allow about three hours to complete the 4.5 mile route, which follows the River Twiss up and the River Doe back down to Ingleton. There are some toilets and a refreshment stall (not always open) at Beezley Farm, just over half way round.

The walk starts off with fairly gentle gradients along the western bank of the River Twiss. After crossing the river at Manor Bridge and then back across at Pecca Bridge, three waterfalls, Pecca Falls, Hollybush Spout and Thornton Force, are reached in quick succession.

Waterfall Walks: Thornton Force
Thornton Force

This is where I linger and take in the magnificence of the views, before heading up a steep bank to the highest point of the walk, 550 feet above the start point. The trail then traverses east across to Beezley Farm and the River Doe.

I never find approaching waterfalls from above as satisfying as from below, and so it is as you follow down the western bank of the the River Doe and come to its three waterfalls, Beezley Falls, Snow Falls and Baxenghyll Gorge.

Below these falls, the trail crosses the river and then a well-paved pathway leads down to Ingleton and back to the Broadwood entrance and car park.

Falls of Clyde

Waterfall Walks: New Lanark
New Lanark

The walk, or rather walks, start at New Lanark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a mile and half from the town of Lanark. There is free parking near New Lanark, with a steep walk down to the river.

The complete circuit up along the eastern bank of the River Clyde, returning along the less well defined western bank pathway, is about 6.5 miles, can take four hours or more to complete and involves ascents totalling more than a 1000 feet.

For less agile senior travellers, I suggest keeping to the eastern bank, returning along the same route, or partly deviating up into to higher woodland path on the way back. This is about 4.5 miles and takes two to three hours to complete.

Corra Linn
Corra Linn

Refreshments are available at New Lanark before you set off, and of course it is well worth allotting some time before or after your walk to visiting the museum here illustrating this 19th Century model industrial community.

The entrance to the walks is at the southern end of the New Lanark site, by the Scottish Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre. There is no entrance charge.

After walking a short distance, I like to stop and take in the panoramic view back to the New Lanark complex, whilst catching a first view of Dundaff Linn in the other direction (linn in Scotland is a waterfall).

After passing some rapids and a section of boardwalk, the path passes the impressive building of the Bonnington Hydroelectric Power Station. Opened in 1927, it was the first such power station in Scotland. It utilises the head of water provided by the next two waterfalls.

Septuagenerians at Corra Linn
Septuagenerians at Corra Linn viewpoint

The path then ascends to the viewpoint for Corra Linn. This 88 foot high waterfall is the most impressive of the three waterfalls along this section of the Clyde and was referred to by Wordsworth in his poetry. Further on is the horseshoe of waterfalls known as Bonnington Linn (see picture above). The walk then continues upwards to the weir where water is funnelled off for the power station.

Now is decision time. Do you cross the bridge and return along the western bank with further views of the waterfalls and New Lanark as you walk along the sometimes muddy, slippery paths, whilst adding two miles to the walk. Or do head back the way you came, with the possible deviation mentioned above.

If the weather is good and the ground is dry, I tend to take the longer route to enjoy its very different views of the waterfalls.

Four Waterfalls Walk

Sgwd Clun-Gwyn
Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

The Four Waterfalls Walk is located about 10 miles north-west of Aberdare in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

It is a circular woodland walk of about 3 miles, partly following the Mellte and Hepste rivers (Afon Mellte and Afon Hepste).

There are two car parks to the north of the walk at Gwaun Hepste and Cwm Porth, both charging £4 a day. Accessing the walk from these car parks adds about 2 miles to the overall distance walked.

However on the Saturday in June when I visited, both were full, so I finished up parking in the last space in the small Comin Y Rhos car park to the west of the walk.

Sgwd y Pannwr
Sgwd y Pannwr

This proved fortuitous, partly because it was free of charge, but mainly because it was nearer to the circular walk than the northern car parks, adding only about a mile to the walk. Even so, it still took me over two hours to complete.

There are three waterfalls on the Mellte river, the Sgwd Clun-Gwyn (sgwd is Welsh for waterfall), the Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn and the Sgwd y Pannwr. Further round the walk to the south along the Hepste river is the Sgwd yr Eira.

Each of these waterfalls has its own unique characteristics and each of course needs to be seen and heard to be appreciated.

I found some of the side paths to the waterfalls to be very steep and slippery, but these deviations were well worth while for the better views offered.

POSTED 27th JULY 2022 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.