Country,  England,  Yorkshire and Humber

Hawes to Hardraw Force: an easy circular walk

After leaving White Scar Cave in Ingleton, we were famished, so decided to take a pit stop in Dent, where we stumbled across something that would change our week entirely. A book. Not just any book… Short Walks in the Yorkshire Dales. We flicked through the pages and found the Hawes to Hardraw Force waterfall circular walk. Obviously, we had to do it.

Related: Hiking: a guide to long walks for beginners

We arrived in the Yorkshire Dales’ market town of Hawes in the early afternoon. Conveniently, we had booked The Board Inn on Market Place for two nights, only a few feet from a great fish and chip shop, and the lovely waterfall that runs through the town. The staff were fantastic, and the stay here was the highlight of our week in the Dales.

Woman in front of Hawes Waterfall

Since the afternoon had only just begun, and the rains had finally cleared, we decided to start the Hawes to Hardraw Force walk, rather than wait for the morning. It was either that, or sit in the room in the pub watching TV. I think the walk was the better choice!

Related: Best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales

Following the instructions in the guide book, we took a ramble through the neighbouring fields and jumped stiles until we reached The Green Dragon Inn, the entrance point to Hardraw Force.

It was a week of seeing record attractions. Hardraw Force is England’s highest single drop waterfall, and was also used in the filming of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – you know, that scene where Robin Hood has a wash! It’s mesmerising to watch the huge mass of water plummet to the ground and more so to try and watch a single drop make its journey.

Hardraw Force

Dan and I lingered there for about half an hour. We’d packed a couple of bags of crisps, and some water, so decided to use this opportunity to have an afternoon snack. Signposts warn against you following the path behind the waterfall, but we watched a boy and his dad do it without any injury. I understand the warning though – the path must be slippery, and if you fell, there’s a real chance you could do yourself serious damage. It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take.

To complete the Hawes to Hardraw Force circular walk, we had to cross farmlands and loop back on ourselves. Here we had our first real experience with the power of nature. We reached a farm populated by cows. Cattle can be particularly dangerous to approach, especially mothers with a calf, so we hesitated to scope the situation. At the other end of the farm, I noticed a group of people running and frantically climbing, so we waited until all the cows had moved to another area of the field before crossing.

It was then that I realised they weren’t running from the cows. Ahead of us, three sheep were positioned at the gate. Slowly, all three turned their heads and locked their demonic eyes on us. We froze, hoping they would turn around and carry on their business. They didn’t. The next thing we knew, we too were climbing over hay bales to escape three young rams headbutting barbed wire.

We thought that was it, but oh no! A few fields later we realised the stile we needed to cross was being guarded by a pony. It’s only a pony, I figured. They come across humans all the time. We approached gingerly and despite its stamping and snorting, we made it, but as we reached the stile, we spotted more sheep. Again, all seven looked up and stared at me like teens outside a Tesco. We were between a rock and a hard place, and Dan warned me to be careful so I crossed the stile and took a step towards the sheep. They took a step towards me.

We risked the pony.

The next morning we had breakfast at The Board Inn, and booked a table for dinner. The pancakes, covered in berries, with a side of bacon and syrup, was like a dessert for breakfast. I got halfway through and felt the sugar shakes kick in. I knew I was ready for the day ahead!

Breakfast pancakes with fruit, maple syrup, and bacon

Previously: Ingleton – action packed with caves, mountains, and waterfalls

Up next: A day in Aysgarth exploring a castle.

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