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Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood

There are currently 1 comments and 5 photos online for this walk.

Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood
Author: Claire, Published: 16 Sep 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guidestar1 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guidestar1 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guidestar1 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guidestar1 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide
North Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide boot Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide
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A 2.5 mile circular walk from the village of Aysgarth in Wensleydale within the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire. The walk takes in a woodland nature reserve and rolling farmland, with lovely views of Bolton Castle, plus one of the most spectacular attractions within the Dales, Aysgarth Falls within the River Ure. The triple-flight waterfalls of High Force, Middle Force and Lower Force stretch over a one-mile length of the river, a spectacular sight especially after periods of wet weather when thousands of gallons of water cascade over a series of broad limestone steps. The falls have grabbed the attention of many cultural icons for more than 200 years, from Wordsworth to Turner and even a Hollywood film director.

The walk includes a few steady gradients but there are no steep sections. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates and flights of steps, but there are no stiles on route. There is a road crossing at the start and end of the walk that needs care. You will be sharing some of the fields with sheep, so take care with dogs. The viewing rock platform for Lower Force is open to the rocky river edge, so take extra care with children and dogs here too. Access to Lower and Middle Force is free of charge, but a small donation is requested to visit High Force (you can exclude this visit if you would prefer not to pay). Allow 1.5 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre, which has a pay-and-display car park, toilets and cafe. It is marked with brown tourism signs from the A684 in Aysgarth village. The parking fee is £2.50 for 2 hours, or £4.50 for the full day (correct Summer 2018). Arrive early to avoid the crowds during weekends and holidays. Approximate post code DL8 3TH.

Walk Sections

Start to Underpass
Start to Underpass

Start point: 54.2946 lat, -1.9835 long
End point: 54.2982 lat, -1.9754 long

Leave the car park heading towards the vehicle entrance, passing the visitor centre on your right. Join the right-hand pavement which becomes a fenced walkway, swinging right to run alongside the main road. At the end of the fenced section, you will reach the designated road crossing point. Be sure to look and listen carefully for traffic before you cross. Cross over the road and go through the gate ahead to enter Freeholder’s Wood.

Immediately on entering the wood, you will reach a path junction with a fingerpost. Take the left-hand branch (signed to Castle Bolton). Follow the surfaced path through the woodland. The woodland is a Local Nature Reserve, owned by the National Park Authority. In the Spring months the wood is full of wood anemones and primroses. You may even be lucky enough to see roe deer darting away into the shadows. In recent years dormice have been reintroduced and are thriving. They only come out at night, so you are unlikely to see them, although you might hear them snoring if you are very quiet!

Stay with the main stone path, ignoring any smaller side paths. At the far end of Freeholder’s Wood, pass through a gate ahead to enter St Joseph’s Wood. This woodland has a very different feel, being more open and less dense with younger trees. Keep ahead on the path through the woodland centre. Towards the end of the wood you will reach a path T-junction (with a gate and the stone arch of a rail underpass on your left).

Underpass to Low Lane
Underpass to Low Lane

Start point: 54.2982 lat, -1.9754 long
End point: 54.3014 lat, -1.9707 long

Turn left to go through the gate (you are now entering a sheep pasture) and follow the track leading you under the railway arch. At the far side, go straight ahead to join the vehicle track. Follow this track as it leads you ahead and then swings right, with a fence running on your left (and open pasture on your right). When the track and fence bend left, do NOT follow them, instead go straight ahead across the centre of the pasture (with the tree line of the old railway running down to your right).

The path leads you just to the right of the single sycamore tree within the field, to reach a gate within the stone wall at the far side. Go through the gate to enter a section of young hawthorn trees. Go straight ahead to follow the grass path. Ahead and to your left you will have beautiful moorland views and Bolton Castle will soon come into view ahead.

Construction of Bolton Castle began in the 1370s and it has never been sold, still being in the ownership of descendants of the Scrope family. Mary Queen of Scots (along with her entourage of knights, servants and ladies-in-waiting) was held at Bolton Castle for 6 months, between 1568 and 1569. Today it is a popular tourist attraction and has been used to film TV episodes of Horrible Histories, Heartbeat and All Creatures Great and Small.

You will emerge out via another gate, to reach the corner of a pasture, alongside a farm access drive which is known as Low Lane.

Low Lane to Hollins House
Low Lane to Hollins House

Start point: 54.3014 lat, -1.9707 long
End point: 54.2993 lat, -1.9678 long

Bear right to follow this stone access drive for just 30 paces, where you will see a gate on your left. Turn left through this gate to enter another pasture. We will now be performing a strange v-shaped route to re-join the same driveway a little further along (this is necessary to ensure we stay on the route of the public footpath).

With your back to the gate, walk diagonally right (about 2 o’clock) to reach the next gate and fingerpost (with more views of Bolton Castle to your left). Do NOT go through the gate, instead stay within the same field and turn sharp right to join the field-edge path (signed to Aysgarth Falls). Keep ahead on the field edge path, with the fence on your left, and exit via a gate ahead to reach the driveway track once again.

Bear left to join the driveway track. You will reach a choice of two farm gates. Take the left-hand gate and follow the stone track, swinging right to pass between Hollins House (on your left) and its stone outbuildings (on your right).

Hollins House to Path T Junction
Hollins House to Path T Junction

Start point: 54.2993 lat, -1.9678 long
End point: 54.2953 lat, -1.9757 long

When the buildings on your left end, fork left to join the footpath which leads you through three bridle gates in quick succession to reach the edge of a large grass pasture. Go across this pasture, heading very slightly left (between 11 and 12 o’clock) and downhill. There are more glorious views here.

Go through the gate at the far side to re-enter the woodland site. Go straight ahead, following the line of a fence on your right. After about 400 metres, the path swings left to reach a T-junction with a surfaced stone path.

Path T Junction to Lower Force
Path T Junction to Lower Force

Start point: 54.2953 lat, -1.9757 long
End point: 54.2951 lat, -1.9746 long

Turn sharp left to join this path and follow it as it leads you down a flight of shallow concrete steps. Go through the gate ahead and continue down the next flight of steps, ahead and then turning right. You will now be able to hear the Lower Force waterfall that we are heading for.

You will pass a viewing fence on your left and then, keeping ahead, you will emerge to a large stone riverside platform from where you can enjoy the full spectacle of Lower Force (remember to stay away from the edge and take particular care with children and dogs).

Lower Force is actually the largest of the three waterfalls within the River Ure. The artist JMW Turner visited Lower Force in 1816 and created a watercolour painting entitled Aysgarth Force.

Lower Force to Middle Force
Lower Force to Middle Force

Start point: 54.2951 lat, -1.9746 long
End point: 54.294 lat, -1.9819 long

Keep ahead on the stone platform, passing Lower Force on your left. Just a few paces beyond the falls, turn right up the stone steps (signed as the Return Path). The path leads you up through the trees and through a gate to reach a T-junction with the level stone path we joined earlier.

Turn left along this path, go through the next wooden gate ahead and continue on the level path winding through the trees. You will come to a flight of steps on your left that lead down to the viewing platform for Middle Force. Take time to enjoy this second impressive waterfall.

Middle Force to High Force
Middle Force to High Force

Start point: 54.294 lat, -1.9819 long
End point: 54.2923 lat, -1.9862 long

When you are ready to continue, head back up the steps and turn left along the main path. Ignore the first gate on the left, instead bear right for a few metres and turn left through the second gate (this is the gate through which you entered the woodland at the start of the walk). Cross back over the road with care and follow the fenced tarmac slope leading you back into the visitor centre car park.

You could finish your walk now should you wish, but we would recommend following a short extra loop to visit the final waterfall, High Force (these falls are not taller than the others, the term High refers to the falls being upstream of the other two). A small donation fee applies for this part…

Walk through the full length of the car park and you will find a woodland footpath at the far end. Turn left and follow the tarmac path leading you steeply downhill. At the bottom of the slope, with the road bridge on your left, go straight ahead through a gate and follow a stone track with the River Ure running on your left. The path leads you to an honesty box and payment hut, where a donation of £1 per adult and 50p per child (correct Summer 2018) is requested. Pay the fee and pass through the gate to reach the riverside viewing area for High Force.

High Force to End
High Force to End

Start point: 54.2923 lat, -1.9862 long
End point: 54.2947 lat, -1.9835 long

High Force is the most-visited and most-photographed of the three falls, partly due to its Hollywood connections. The waterfall was used as the setting for a scene for the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It was at these falls that Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) met Little John (Nick Brimble), resulting in their iconic fight. The landscape here gave the director the opportunity to stage a unique fight sequence that took in several stages of the River Ure’s journey down the broad limestone steps.

When you are ready to continue, simply retrace your steps back through the gate, back along the track and back up the tarmac slope to reach the car park where the walk began.

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network Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 Comments for: "Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood"

This is a fantastic easy walk suitable for anyone including dogs and children.

By stulux23 on 25 Oct 2018

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 Gallery Images for: "Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood"

11687_0Richard1537081812 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 16 Sep 2018
Yore Mill
11687_3Richard1537080356 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 16 Sep 2018
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves...
11687_2Richard1537080356 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 16 Sep 2018
Turner's painting of Aysgarth Falls
11687_1Richard1537080356 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 16 Sep 2018
Bolton castle in the distance
11687_0Richard1537080356 Aysgarth Falls and Freeholder’s Wood iFootpath Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 16 Sep 2018
Wonderful views across the Dales to Bolton Castle

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