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Cotter Force: Everything You Need to Know About Visiting

Cotter Force: Everything You Need to Know About Visiting

Cotter Force is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Better yet, it’s one of the most accessible waterfalls to visit in the national park. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Cotter Force in Hawes.

About Cotter Force

Cotter Force (AKA Cotter Force Waterfall) is a beautiful waterfall located in Hawes in Wensleydale. The waterfall is found along Cotterdale Beck, which is a minor tributary of the River Ure.

Of course, when it comes to waterfalls in Hawes, most people visit the famous Hardraw Force instead of Cotter Force. After all, Hardraw Force is considered the highest single-drop waterfall in England. Whilst, Hardraw Force is famous for featuring in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, during the scene where Maid Marian catches Robin Hood bathing under a waterfall.

Although Hardraw Force is more popular than Cotter Force, there are many reasons why you should still visit Cotter Force.

Read our Hawes Visitor’s Guide

Cotter Force

Why You Should Visit Cotter Force

One reason you may visit Cotter Force is that’s very accessible. The walking route leading to the waterfall is a specially graded path suitable for those using pushchairs and wheelchairs. Indeed, it’s a walk without stiles. Certainly, many waterfall walks in the Yorkshire Dales aren’t accessible to those who have mobility impairments. But, admittedly, Hardraw Force is also accessible to pushchairs and wheelchair users. So, what separates Cotter Force from Hardraw Force?

Well, you can access Cotter Force for free, whilst there is an admission fee to visit the nearby Hardaw Force. Additionally, Cotter Force is much quieter, serene and peaceful than the touristy Hardraw Force. Last but not least, Cotter Force is a haven for wildlife. If you’re lucky during a visit, you may see kingfishers or red squirrels. Whereas, at Hardraw Force, the high turnover of visitors tends to scare away most of the wildlife.

So, exactly where is Cotter Force located?

Dan commences the Cotter Force Walk

Where Is Cotter Force?

Cotter Force is located northwest of the village of Hawes in North Yorkshire. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.

A map showing the location of Cotter Force
Cotter Force map

Now you know where the waterfall is located, let’s look at the walk to reach it.

Cotter Force Walk: Details

Here are the trail specs for the Cotter Force Walk.

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1km (0.6 miles)
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 10m
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Trailhead: A684 layby
  • Map: AllTrails

Cotter Force Walk: Directions & Description

In this trail description, we’re going to tell you all about the Cotter Force Walk.

Cotter Force

Cotter Force

After parking along the layby on A684, you’ll almost immediately reach the trailhead for the walk. The accessible path leads you away from the road and alongside the quaint Cotterdale Beck. To your left, you’ll enjoy the soothing stream of the beck. Whilst, to your right, you’ll enjoy far-reaching views of gorgeous Dales countryside.

The trail gently weaves, following alongside Cotterdale Beck. After 500 metres or so, you’ll reach a much wider area of the beck and you’ll get your first glimpse of the impressive Cotter Force. Near the waterfall, you’ll find a wooden bench, which provides a stellar view of the waterfall. There is also an information board next to the bench, which tells you a little more about the history of the waterfall. It’s well-known that the famous painter, J. M. W. Turner, visited this waterfall in 1816 and sketched it!

You’ll find that the waterfall has a series of six steps, so there are quite a few cascades and tiers. The most prominent single drop is around 1.5 metres.

Personally, Beck and I tried to get a little closer to the waterfall, by following a muddy trail to the right of Cotterdale Beck. But, admittedly, we didn’t get too far as the terrain didn’t allow. So, we simply enjoyed the waterfall from the bench area and then re-traced our steps to complete the out and back walk.

Cotter Force

Other Helpful Information About Cotter Force

Now you know all about doing the Cotter Force Walk, let’s look at some useful information to help plan your visit.

How to Get to Cotter Force

The easiest and quickest way to visit Cotter Force is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Discover Cars for very reasonable prices. Also, the website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy. Have a look at car hire from Manchester.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

When it comes to Cotter Force parking, there is no official car park. As mentioned, you’ll simply park here on a layby on A684. The layby is immediately next to the stone bridge crossing Cotterdale Beck, and where you’ll find the trailhead for the walk. There is probably enough space for around half a dozen vehicles. Admittedly, there isn’t really anywhere else nearby to park if the layby is full. So, we recommend visiting early to guarantee a parking spot at the layby.

Public Transport

It isn’t possible to use public transport to get to Cotter Force. If you don’t have a car, you could get public transport to Hawes and then walk to the waterfall from there or perhaps catch a taxi.

Where to Stay: Hawes Accommodation

If you’re looking for accommodation near Cotter Force, we recommend staying in the lovely nearby village of Hawes. Personally, Beck and I think Hawes is one of the nicest villages in the Dales. Better yet, the charming village has plenty of fantastic accommodation options. Certainly, we highly recommend spending the weekend or longer at Hawes. It’s a great base for seeing Cotter Force and other waterfalls and attractions in the Dales.

Below, we’ve handpicked the best budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation options in Hawes.

The Best Budget Hawes Accommodation

  • YHA Hawes: by far, the most budget-friendly accommodation in Hawes is the YHA Hawes. Indeed, if you’re on a budget, you can find affordable shared dorms at YHA Hawes.
  • The Fountain Hotel: if you’re on a budget but want a private room, you’ll find The Fountain Hotel is the most affordable hotel in Hawes.
A room in a hostel
A hotel room

The Best Mid-Range Hawes Accommodation

  • Cocketts Hotel: this is one of the best value-for-money hotels in Hawes. Certainly, Cocketts Hotel is one of the most popular places to stay in the area because of this.
  • The White Hart Inn: the well-known country inn is another popular place to stay in Hawes. It’s located right in the heart of town and the decor is superb.
A hotel room
A fireplace in a hotel

The Best Luxury Hawes Accommodation

  • Simonstone Hall Hotel: the highly-rated four-star hotel (formerly a shooting lodge) is located just on the outskirts of Hawes, enjoying a quiet and remote ambience in the Dales countryside.
  • Stone House Hotel: this four-star hotel is a classic Edwardian country house that was built in 1908. Similar to Simonstone Hall Hotel, Stone House Hotel is located just outside of the village, so it enjoys a superb peaceful location.
Birds-eye view of a hotel and gardens
Shared area in a hotel

Other Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales

Of course, other than Cotter Force, the Yorkshire Dales have plenty of awesome waterfalls to see. Below, we’ve listed other waterfalls worth visiting in the Dales.

Other lesser-known but equally impressive waterfalls worth visiting in the Yorkshire Dales include Hull Pot, Buckden Beck Waterfalls, Cow Close Gill Waterfall, Gastack Beck Waterfall as well as Mill Gill Force and Whitfield Gill Force (Askrigg Waterfalls).

Dan at Hardraw Force near Cotter Force
Hardraw Force (AKA Hardraw Force Waterfall)

What to Wear and Take

These are our five walking gear essentials for walking to Cotter Force.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

FAQs About Cotter Force

Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Cotter Force.

Cotter Force

Where Do You Park For Cotter Force?

You’ll park here at the layby on A684 near the trailhead for the waterfall walk.

What Else Is Near Cotter Force?

There are plenty of attractions near Cotter Force. If you want to chase more waterfalls, we highly recommend visiting Hardraw Force and Aysgill Force. Otherwise, we recommend visiting the charming village of Hawes. During a visit, you can visit the Dales Countryside Museum or the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre. Alternatively, you could simply wander the lovely streets of the village or head to one of the many fantastic pubs or cafes.

Read more: Hawes – The 16 Best Things To Do In Hawes, Yorkshire

Hawes Falls

Can You Swim in Cotter Force?

Cotter Force swimming is possible. It’s actually a popular wild swimming spot. Although, care must be taken, especially after heavy rainfall when the beck is in spate.

Other Yorkshire Dales Guides

Hardraw Force

For more information about the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, click the button below. Otherwise, to help you get started, read our 42 Best Yorkshire Dales Walks or 48 Best Yorkshire Dales Waterfalls guides.

Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales

Bonus Tips

  • Bring pooch: the walk to the waterfall is dog-friendly.
  • Hawes to Cotter Force Walk: it’s possible to do the Cotter Force Walk from Hawes. But, we don’t recommend it. Better still, we think the Aysgill Force Walk or the Hardaw Force Walk, both from Hawes, are two better waterfall routes from the village.
  • Explore other nearby national parks in the northwest of England: don’t just stop at the Yorkshire Dales. Head to the beautiful Lake District (guides coming soon), Peak District, Forest of Bowland and North York Moors National Park.

Please leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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