Askrigg Waterfalls.

Start. Askrigg.

Route. Askrigg - Mill Lane - Mill Gill Force - Whitfield Gill Force - Low Straights Lane - West End - Askrigg.

Notes. This was the start of three days in Wensleydale, the dale welcomed us with grey skies and persistent rain, our mood matched the weather, finding a need to kill time before checking into our B&B this walk came off the cuff. I'd never wandered up Mill Gill and Whitfield Gill before so was unaware of the drama laying ahead, a quick look at the map and we'd traced a short cirque that fit the bill perfect. Some walks stand head and shoulders above the rest, it's wrong to draw comparisons but sometimes it's just inevitable, this short outing will be one firmly stamped on the memory. Waterfalls always look good after a few days rain, scouring peat from high moorland, tainting the normally crystal clear streams to the colour of a single malt, the noise spray and majesty all add up to excitement, would Mill Gill Force and it's companion disappoint, not a chance.

We left the car on the cobblestones in front of the 16th century St Oswald's Church, to our right the market cross stood, we passed the cross not sure if we were heading in the right direction, as we turned into Mill Lane (behind the church) a discrete sign placed on the cemetery wall confirmed we were right. We followed the lane through West End between many quaint cottages, when the tarmac ended a finger post directed us through pastures alive with summer flowers, skirting the former saw mill before passing under the overhead channel once used to carry water to drive the water wheel, a footbridge spanned the beck, we crossed to ascend the west bank. After a few minutes climbing a finger-post invited us to Mill Gill Force, the 60ft staircase of water was breathtaking today, the sound of thunder as the torrent of peat stained water thundered into the gorge was almost frightening, after we'd had our fill, with no other way out of the amphitheatre we re-traced our steps to the main path then continued climbing.

Further up the gill a finger-post marked our return route, Askrigg via Low Straights but not just yet, onwards and upwards until another path on our right descended into the gorge. The next few hundred yards was rather wet, slippery and awkward as we picked our way along the edge of the beck, with the stream in full flood one misplaced boot, one loose slippery boulder had an air of finality about it, the thunder of falling water drove us forward like a magnet pulling us into the gorge, suddenly after an awkward scramble around a moss covered fallen tree there it was, a 20ft wide curtain of water dropping almost 70ft straight down. It was sign language from now on, the noise was horrendous, spray made photography almost impossible, this was a frightening awe inspiring place, almost hypnotic. It's possible to scramble behind the curtain of water, Sue gestured onwards, urging me forward, not a hope in hell, after a good soaking in an attempt just to get closer we retreated the way we came.

On reaching the finger-post ignored earlier (Askrigg via Low Straights) we crossed the gorge to ascend the opposite bank, a short sharp climb saw us step into Low Straights Lane. With stunning views down the dale, between dry stone walls we descended. Ignoring several paths all heading in our direction we soon forded Askrigg Gill, the next slit stile we stepped through, it was down hill through fields alive with summer flowers, in no time at all we stepped back into Mill Lane almost back at the parked car.

view route map.


Addlebrough rising across the dale, seen from Mill Lane.

Summer pastures near Askrigg.

Viewing Askrigg on a rather damp day, with St Oswald's Church dominating the village.

Sue enterers Mill Gill Wood, the metal trough above her head once carried water to power the mill.

Footbridge over Mill Gill.

Looking to Addlebrough across Wensleydale.

Field barn above Askrigg, typical of the dales of Yorkshire.

In spate Mill Gill Force, quite Majestic

Alternating layers of shale's, limestone's and sandstones give Mill Gill Force this staircase like appearance, each layer marks a different depth of ocean, from deep clear to shallow muddy, there's even a thin layer of coal the remains of a rain forest that once thrived when the dales had a much warmer moisture climate.

At 60ft this fall may be impressive, but unknown to us there was better to come.

This water filled ravine is home to numerous species of wild flowers, bluebells, wood garlic, various stitchworts to name but a few, mosses, liverworts and ferns growing in abundance particularly near the falls, fungi clings to rotting trees, it's certainly a magical place.

Free from the confines of the gorge for a moment, soaking up the views over Wensleydale.

The waters of Mill Gill now named Whitfield Beck rush through this limestone gorge.

The path leading to Whitfield Force.

I was always of the opinion Uldale Force was the most spectacular fall in the dales, today Whitfield Force is breathtaking, I'm being told to scramble behind the curtain of water, no thanks.

This is typical dales waterfall building geology, a thin lip of sandstone resting on various shale's allowing the slightly acid water to cut back onto the gorge, over thousands of years forming spectacular scenery.

A final look back before we retreat, soaked but well worth the drenching.

Sue en route to Low Straights Lane.

Sue strides out released by the tree lined rift we'd been scrabbling up, about to step into the grey skies above Wensleydale.

Seen from the confines of Low Straights Lane, Hartland Hill with the cliffs of Pen Hill to the left, far left Nappa Scar.

The market cross and Church of St Oswald, Askrigg.

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