We certainly picked the right weekend to visit Aysgarth falls. On previous occasions I can't say I have been particularly impressed with the falls but this time, wow!! Furious brown water hurling over the limestone steps of the River Ure in full spate. Not to be missed.
There are three named falls, upper, lower and middle, on a half mile stretch of the Ure in Aysgarth. There is plenty of (Paid) parking and a tourist information centre and also a cafe. There are well marked and well trodden paths to the three sets of falls, the upper one being the nearest and the lower being a bit of a trek.(In the rain) We missed this one on this visit, owing to the rain but on previous occasions we have seen squirrels and gathered our own hazelnuts on the walk.
Across the river you can see St. Andrews church which has the largest churchyard in England!
Philip was running around on the wet rocks with the river rushing past him. One very nervous mother shouting at him to come away from the water! Do we ever stop worrying about our children??
Bolton Castle sits on its own on a fellside, visible for miles in Wensleydale (click on the picture). The castle was built by one of the Lords of the Scrope family in the 1380s and looks like a fortress but was actually used to live in. Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here for some months and when she escaped, she lost a scarf which is the reason for the village name Preston-under-Scar nearby. Or so the legend says, since a scar is also a geological feature in the Dales, no one knows for sure I think. What we do know is that when the castle was abandoned after damage in the Civil War, local families settled in it and lived here until 1898! The Scropes still own it though, and in later years, they've earned money on letting it be used as a film location so you can see it in for instance "Ivanhoe". Today, you too can visit the castle and its lovely garden. See the website below for current opening hours.
Next to the falls is a National Park centre. These exist here and there throughout the Dales and have a small but interesting exhibition on flora and fauna in the Yorkshire Dales. They also sell maps, books, clothes and other souvenirs from the park. The centre here in Aysgarth also has a cafe as it is away from a major village.
There are three falls in Aysgarth and you can visit them all. If you click on my fourth picture you can see ducks going on a waterslide - children love to watch that and much more here, such as the strange holes created by the water (fifth picture). These pictures are all from the Upper falls which has an excellent grassy bank to picnic in. There are also the Middle and Lower Falls and you reach those on a short hike from the National Park centre signposted from the Upper Falls. The Lower Fall is furthest away and for that, you need proper footwear as it is more of a forest path than the Upper which is just next to the road.
Aysgarth's Church is a delightful little countryside church on a hill overlooking the mill and near the waterfalls and there has been a church on the site since the year 1000. Just strolling around here for a few hours enjoying life would be perfectly possible but sadly I was trying to catch that elusive bus.
Whilst you are staying at aysgarth you will probably take at least one visit the Hawes , a short drive away. Hawes is the highest village in yorkshire (apparently) and is an ideal place to spend a day, particularly if the weather is bad as there is lots to do undercover, The wesleydale creamery, where you can watch the famous wenslydale cheese being made, the railway museum, and the ropemakers factory amongst other things , as well as just browsing the shops, Market day is tuesday and of course there is lots of lovely walking in the area.
Whilst in the Aysgarth area you must visit Castle Bolton, however leave your furry freind at home as dogs are not allowed access to the castle.
Castle Bolton ( not to be confused with Bolton Abbey near skipton) is one of the best preserved castles in the country, there is a small fee for entrance to the castle which has exhilbitions and tearooms inside its walls. In the grounds is a beautifull medieval style garden, very fragrant , very beautiful and also very interesting as there are plants that were used in the olden days for various uses ( medicines, dyes etc) with plaques describing how they were used. The gardens are so fragrant that as you climb the hill to the castle you can smell the flowers long before you reach your destination.
The castle is situated on top of a hill 4 miles from Aysgarth, the views from the castle are stunning, and castle bolton village itself is very scenic.
You can get to castle Bolton by car ( there is a small car park opposite the castle), bus or the best way to enjoy the stunning views is to walk ( see my off the beaten track tip for Castle Bolton)
Here's those other falls I was on about, furher upstream on the river (its the river Ure by the way, despite being in Wensleydale - this dale is not named for the river).
The walk went from Aysgarth falls over the (gentle) hills towards Woodhall & Newbiggin before returning to Aysgarth.
As I said earlier - there are some nice walks starting from Aysgarth Falls. Best thing is to buy a local guide book or the right Ordnance Survey sheet. We did a lovely circular walk here one time that went over the hilss and joined up at the river a few miles upstream and then more or less followed the course of the river back, and there were some more lovely little falls on the river - and this time with no people around.
Here's a view back to the river from on the way up the hill...
The expanse of grass is a great place for kids to play, and they love being next to the water - keep an eye on them obviously. There are ducks in the river and people bring their dogs there too... it's just a nice happy atmosphere.
The falls are the reason that most people go to Aysgarth, though there are good walks around about too, and a National Park visitor centre.
The falls are not spectacular - even by English standards, but they are picturesque. They are a series of cascading falls and are named upper, middle and lower falls (imaginavtive, huh?). This pic is of the upper falls - and that's where most people might head to because of the large expanse of grass - great for picnics and playing - and also because the river is accessible here.
The church at Aysgarth is lovely, especially its setting, on the side of the hill that leads down to the river and the falls, the Yorkshire countryside all around, and that huge graveyard to one side... Spectacular.
There are three sections of falls, this is the middle section with the Church in the background up the hill
Aysgarth Falls is a great place to take a picnic, and then just lie back and enjoy the sun, and the sound of the water cascading over the falls, and children laughing and playing. Lovely.