Aysgarth Falls walk

Walk: Wet weather bonus for spectacular falls

Walk: Wet weather bonus for spectacular falls

First published in Walks in the Lake District Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

From East Lancashire the most attractive route is from Skipton and Bolton Abbey (A65).

Then follow the B6160 through the delightful villages of Grassington and Kettlewell to Aysgarth which is on the A684.

The visitor centre and pay and display car park is clearly signed.

From the car park cross the road and follow the signs into Freeholders Wood.

This is an area of woodland dating from at least 1600 and almost certainly long before that. It is therefore very rich in plants, but is dominated by hazel trees. At this time of the year there are plenty of nuts to be seen and these are loved by the resident woodmice.

Other mammals present in the wood are grey squirrel and roe deer. There are plenty of birds, including the resident nuthatch. This was once called the Nut Hatchet because it uses its bill like an axe to break open the hazel nuts.

Approach the viewing platform reached by a flight of wooden steps. Here are the middle falls and above these can be seen the parish church of St Andrew’s. The graveyard is circular and scholars are sure that this means that there was a church there in Anglo-Saxon times, long before the Norman Conquest.

At one time Aysgarth lay under a shallow sea and the limestone ledges have been formed by millions of shells of sea creatures. This means that you are looking at “fossil falls”.

Keeping the river on the right look for an area known as a Wet Flush. This is where water from the limestone bedrock forms a spring which runs down to the River Ure.

In dry periods this area can be difficult to see, but visitors in 2008 have no such problem and the West Flush at times has resembled a torrent! This is an area which in spring is yellow with marsh marigolds.

Approach Aysgarth Lower Falls with Riddings Field on the left. This indicates that long ago the area was once cleared and cultivated. In those days agricultural chemicals were unheard of and so here is an example of an unspoiled grassland.

After a look at the lower Falls the walker should retrace their steps to the viewing platform at Stop 2, but then bear left to reach Aysgarth Bridge and Village and then onto the Upper Falls. These are magnificent and were used in some of the film sequences for Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.

The Ure is one of the least polluted rivers in Britain and is the haunt of fine specimens of brown trout and one of the most beautiful and yet difficult to catch fish. This is the grayling and anglers love to secure one and be the envy of their rivals.

If there is one positive thing to emerge from the wet summer of 2008 is that waterfalls have seldom been so spectacular.

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