Aysgarth Waterfall in Winter


A mystical cascade proudly roars in the far north of the Yorkshire Dales. The steady beating waters rhymically thunder in the little valley. The foaming water gurgles as it makes its way down the River Ure. The short December sunlight had almost faded, adding to the mystical atmosphere of Aysgarth Falls in winter.

One December afternoon we drove to the far north of the Yorkshire Dales National parks to see the beautiful Aysgarth Falls. We visited Aysgarth Falls and Cauldron Falls. The two dramatic water features are just a few miles apart meaning it is easy to visit both Aysgarth and Cauldron Falls in one day.

The village of Aysgarth

Pretty views of a lonely tree from Aysgarth Village in North Yorkshire
Pretty Views from Aysgarth Village

Our journey started in the small village of Aysgarth. There has been a settlement here since the bronze age. Nowadays, Aysgarth is home to around 180 people. After a lazy start to the day we did not reach the quaint hamlet until 1:30pm. It was late December and the sun was starting to dip behind the giant hills.

We drove through the village. Our little car went past the grade ii listed pub the The George and Dragon and down to the river Ure. We went over a very picturesque by Yore Mill and drove towards the Aysgarth Visitor Centre where we would start our day of chasing waterfalls.

Aysgarth Visitor Centre

Aysgarth Falls Visitor Centre is conveniently located right next to the River Ure, just a couple of hundred meters away from the falls. The centre has a few amenities such as toilets, a café, a gift shop and parking. On our visit it was easy to find a space but in summer the car park can fill very quickly.
From the car park the trails are very well sign posted. You can choose if you would rather visit the upper falls or the lower falls first. We decided to start with the Upper Falls.

Aysgarth Upper Falls

The River Ure flows through many valleys before entering the Aysgarth cascades. It flows quietly through the Wensleydale valley, until it reaches Bishopdale. Suddenly, the gallons of water are forced over a 3-metre drop. The waters groan as the liquid smashes into the rocks and the water below. It bellows out in anger as we can hardly hear ourselves speak over the raging torrents. The falls are a product of the last Ice Age. Thousand years ago, huge rivers of ice carved deep into the valleys. As Bishopdale was a good deal deeper than Wensleydale, the River Ure had to drop a good distance to meet up with it. This is how the Aysgarth Falls were formed.

Girl sits by Aysgarth Upper Waterfall in North Yorkshire in winter

Aysgarth is particular spectacular in winter. The recent rains provided a fantastic spectacle as the waters plummeted over the broad limestone steps.

The dramatic setting has attracted tourists for over hundreds of years and up to the present day. Around 200 years ago, the poet Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visited the falls. In 1816 the artist Turner also visited, but more on his trip to the falls later on. The site has also enticed film crews to use the setting. The Crew of the feature film Robin Hood and the Price of Thieves used the Upper and Middle Falls to create dramatic fight scenes. On this cold December day, Alex & Anna from My Travel Scrapbook had also found their way to this lovely part of Yorkshire.

There were a few other walkers at Aysgarth Falls. A little boy stood near the edge holding his dad’s hand. His little wellington boots did not appear to provide much stability for him on the slippery rocks as he nervously wobbled. A few dog walkers were also around enjoying the last rays of the winter sun. Yet it did not feel overcrowded. We very much enjoyed walking around this pretty spot.

For more inspiration on where to walk in Yorkshire check out this post about hiking on Roseberry Topping.

In terms of what footwear to wear to Aysgarth Upper Falls in winter, we would recommend walking boots or wellingtons. Make sure you wear water-proof shoes as it was quite muddy underfoot. The terrain by the upper falls is much muddier than at the Lower Falls.

After we had spent a little while at the upper falls, we headed back towards the car park and continued towards the Middle Falls. To reach the next section of Aysgarth Falls we needed to walk through Freeholder’s Wood.

Freeholder’s Wood

We passed through the pretty Freeholders’ wood. It was a little bare in the depth of winter, but you can imagine how spectacular the woods must be in spring. The forest floor will be a vibrant array of colour full of pretty wildflowers. Birds will sing, and a timid deer might be spotted running away. In December, however, the forest floor as well as the trees were bare. The only colour was provided by the many holly bushes which swayed gently in the wind.

Walking along this path we noticed how well maintained this trail was. In comparison to the path by the Upper Falls, the path through Freeholder’s Wood was not muddy at all. This was a perfect winter walk.

The Middle Falls and St Andrew’s Church

St Andrews Church by Aysgarth Middle Waterfall in North Yorkshire in winter

Aysgarth’s Middle Falls are best seen from a purpose-built viewpoint. The Middle Falls seem to be the least popular section along the Aysgarth cascades. Whilst the artist Turner did make a beautiful sketch of this section in 1816, it was the Lower Falls that captured his imagination. Yet the Middle Falls do have one true fan which has been admiring this natural wonderful for hundreds of years.

Across the river stood a solitary church. St Andrew’s Church overlooks the Middle Falls as it has since Medieval times.

Aysgarth Lower Falls

Aysgarth Lower Waterfall in North Yorkshire in winter

Our final stop at Aysgarth was the Lower Falls. Stand as close as you dare to the roaring waters. In wintertime and spring, the river truly swells as the waters force their way over the limestone steps. In summer when the river Ure is calmer, this is a popular spot to bring a picnic or even take a dip. Many visitors go right down to the riverside to get a better view of the Lower Falls. 200 years ago, a famous artist also chose to clamber down to the river. From the foot of the Lower Falls is where the artist Turner chose to create his Aysgarth masterpiece. Turner created a beautiful watercolour and named it Aysgarth Force. His picture captures the dramatic spot and also adds two figures in the foreground. Aysgarth falls has captured the imagination of visitors for hundreds of years. It certainly mesmerised us.

Closeup of Aysgarth Lower Waterfall in North Yorkshire in winter

Whilst we did not bring an aisle to paint what we saw we did take lots of photos of this chilly but sunny winter’s day. Whilst winter may not be the best time to take photos at Aysgarth Falls we were very impressed by the beauty around us.

Girl walks by Aysgarth Lower Waterfall in North Yorkshire in winter

Spend just an hour or so at Aysgarth taking in the lovely views and enjoy walking by the river and through the woods. There are many fantastic walks in the Yorkshire dales but make sure you add visiting Aysgarth Falls to your ultimate Yorkshire bucket list!

Would you like to visit Aysgarth Falls in winter? Let us know in the comments below

Aysgarth Waterfall is actually a series of waterfalls. The Falls lie in the far north of the stunning Yorkshire Dales in England. Click on this post to find out everything you need to know about visiting the spectacular Aysgarth Falls in Winter #aysgarth #yorkshire #visitengland

2 Replies to “Aysgarth Waterfall in Winter”

  1. Hi Anna,

    Just finished your beautifully-written about Aysgarth Waterfall and what stunning photos! Thanks for sharing . Happy to follow.
    Ruma Dey Baidya

    1. Hi Ruma,
      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. I am glad you enjoyed our writing and photography!

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