The waterfalls at High Force mark a 21 metre drop in the course of the River Tees, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is a walk we made when we stayed in the small town of Middleton-in-Teesdale, 4 miles East of High Force. We went on the approximately 10-mile round walk in February. The Durham Dales looked spectacularly stark in the winter.
There are some lovely independent coffee shops and craft shops in the village which we’d recommend you visit before heading off or on your return.
From the centre of town, head down Bridge Street and cross the river. Just past the Auction Market, follow the Pennine Way marker on the right. The made track turns to a narrower path as it leads through fields crossed with stiles. The path drops down to the riverbank and crosses smaller streams by a small bridge and then by stepping stones.
The path continues upstream past steps leading down to Scoberry Bidge. On the left are dismantled mine entrances and on the right the river passes through a tall narrow gorge. At the Wynch Bridge cross to the northern bank of the river and take in the views of Low Force. Careful though, it’s recommended that only one person use the bridge at a time!
Low Force, also known as ‘Salmon Leap’ is a favourite spot for kyakers and photographers alike, where the Tees falls 5.5m over the Whyn Sill. We tried our drone out here for the first time and we were quite please with the results!
Continue upstream on the south bank of the Tees and pass the turning for Holwick Head Bridge. The path continues uphill through an area of gorse bushes. The sound of the water crashing down High Force marks the way, though the best view of the enormous waterfall is on the right at the top of the cliff (don’t stand too close to the edge!).
The amount of water flowing over High Force depends on the recent weather. When we visited it hadn’t rained that much in the days before but the waterfall has been known to flow all across the width of the river.
Once you’ve taken in the magnificent views of High Force, turn back and follow the path back to Middleton-in-Teesdale back past the crofter’s cottage below. Remember to clean your shoes with the disinfectant and water provided so we can protect trees in the area from deadly diseases.
To stop off for lunch or a well-earned pint, turn left and cross the river at Holwick Head Bridge. The path crosses a large field and ascends a set of steps to the B6277. Cross the road to the High Force Hotel, a traditional country pub with rooms. There are two bars, with Black Sheep always on the pumps, along with other local beers. The lunch menu is varied and dogs are welcome.
Once you’ve been refreshed, retrace your steps down the steps, through the field and across the river, turning left on the south bank back to Middleton.