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.
Read our Hawes Visitor’s Guide
Table of Contents
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 DiscoverCars.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Hardraw Force: as mentioned, Hardraw Force is the most popular waterfall to visit in Hawes.
- Aysgill Force: this is a lesser-known waterfall to see near Hawes that’s absolutely worth the visit.
- Ingleton Waterfalls Trail: some of the most famous waterfalls in Yorkshire are seen along the Ingleton Falls Trail.
- Aysgarth Falls Walk: another well-known waterfall in the Yorkshire Dales.
- Keld Waterfalls Walk: another exceptional waterfall walk which visits seven waterfalls!
- Cray Gill Waterfalls Walk: a lesser-known waterfall walk that explores many stunning cascades along Cray Gill near Buckden.
- Settle Caves and Waterfalls Walk: you’ll visit a couple of waterfalls and caves during this circular walk from Settle.
- West Burton Falls (AKA Cauldron Falls): an impressive waterfall located near Aysgarth Falls.
- Bolton Abbey Waterfall: an epic waterfall located in the Valley of Desolation near Bolton Abbey.
- Malham Cove Walk: after seeing Malham Cove, explore Gordale Scar Waterfall and Janet’s Foss.
- Cautley Spout: England’s highest waterfall above ground, can be seen on a walk around Howgill Fell.
- Hull Pot: an amazing waterfall located next to Pen-y-ghent.
- Force Gill Waterfall: a superb waterfall found near Whernside – the highest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
- Rat Hole Waterfall: see the highest continuous single-drop underground waterfall in the UK at Gaping Gill.
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).
What to Wear and Take
These are our five walking gear essentials for walking to Cotter Force.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales
- Grassington: Everything You Need to Know About Grassington
- Ingleton: 10 Awesome Things To Do In Ingleton
- Masham: Everything You Need to Know About Masham
- Buckden: The 5 Best Things To Do In Buckden, Yorkshire
- Keld: The 5 Best Things To Do in Keld, North Yorkshire
- Clapham: The Top 13 Things To Do During A Visit to Clapham, Yorkshire
- Ribblehead: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Ribblehead
- 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.