Where is England’s Longest Single-Drop Waterfall?

by David Murray on 13 February 2011

in Northern England, Yorkshire

It was described by the poet William Wordsworth in a 1799 letter to his friend Coleridge.  He writes of a bitterly cold December day.

“After cautiously sounding our way over stones of all colours and sizes, encased in the clearest water formed by the spray of the fall we found the rock, which had before appeared like a wall, extending itself over our heads like the ceiling of a huge cave, from the summit of which the water shot directly over our heads into a basin, and among the fragments wrinkled over with masses of ice as white as snow, or rather, as Dorothy said, like congealed froth. The water fell at least tens yards from us and we stood directly behind it.”

So where is it? Given the Wordsworth reference I suppose one might be forgiven for assuming that it was somewhere in the Lake District. But no, it’s in the Yorkshire Dales – or Wensleydale to be precise. 

Hardraw Force is not high by global standards but at 100 feet (or 30 metres in ‘today-speak’) is the longest single drop in England. At least, it’s the longest above-ground drop. There’s a fall three times that height under the ground at Gaping Gill, also in the Yorkshire Dales deep below Ingleborough.

Various events are held in the locality throughout the year, including the Hardraw Scar Brass Band Festival in September. This has now been held for 130 years.  Nearby at Hawes is the Wensleydale Creamery with its recently extended visitor center where you can learn a lot about the world-famous Wensleydale Cheese.

Above photograph of Hardraw Force, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (Sean Allen)

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