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Hardraw Force: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide (Updated 2024)

Hardraw Force: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide (Updated 2024)

Hardraw Force is one of the most famous waterfalls in the UK. It’s the highest single-drop waterfall in England and it’s featured in the classic film – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. As well, the waterfall is absolutely breathtaking and easily accessible. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Hardraw Force in Hawes.

About Hardraw Force

Hardraw Force is a spectacular single-drop 30 metre (100 foot) waterfall. The falls are formed by Hardraw Beck, which is a tributary of the River Ure. The waterfall is located on private property within 15 acres of wooded grounds in Upper Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This means you’ll have to pay to see the waterfall (please read FAQs for details about costs). And, we can guarantee that it’s absolutely worth the price of entry to see this dazzling waterfall.

FYI – the waterfall is also known as Hardraw Force Waterfall, Hardraw Force Falls, Hardraw Waterfall and Hardraw Falls. The word ‘force’ means ‘waterfall’. So, in reality, you don’t need to add ‘Waterfall’ to ‘Hardraw Force’ as you’d essentially be saying Hardaw Waterfall Waterfall!

Read our Hawes Visitor’s Guide

Dan at Hardraw Force

Hardraw Force History and Fun Facts

Hardraw Force is one of the most well-known waterfalls in the UK. Below, we’ll cover some fun facts about the waterfall, which explains why it’s so famous.

  • It’s the highest waterfall in England, or is it? At 30 metres (100 feet), Hardraw Force is the highest unbroken single drop waterfall above ground in England. Whilst, at 200 metres (650 feet), Cautley Spout in the Howgill Fells is the highest broken waterfall above ground in England. At 40 metres (130 feet), Rat Hole Waterfall in Gaping Gill is the highest unbroken waterfall underground in England. And, the highest waterfall in the UK is Scotland’s Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, which is considered a similar height to Cautley Spout.
  • Hardraw Force featured in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a classic British film from 1991 starring Kevin Costner. The waterfall is featured during the scene where Maid Marian catches Robin Hood bathing at the falls.
  • The famous painter, J. M. W. Turner, visited this waterfall in 1816 and sketched it! Whilst, the poet William Wordsworth visited in 1799 and mentioned the waterfall in his famous book – Guide to the Lakes.
  • The waterfall is located on an old Victorian pleasure ground. On site, there’s a large circular structure which is the base of a bandstand. It was formerly home to the annual Hardraw Scar Brass Band Concert dating back to 1880. This event is Britain’s second oldest outdoor concert.
  • The Great Flood of 1899 wreaked havoc through the town of Hardraw. The flood also destroyed the lip of the waterfall. So, the landowner at the time, Lord Wharncliffe, instructed it to be repaired with metal stakes. In the late Victorian period, Lord Wharncliffe, also built pathways beside Hardraw Beck to the base of the waterfall.

Where Is Hardraw Force?

Hardraw Force is located in the village of Hardraw, near Hawes, in North Yorkshire. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the Upper Wensleydale area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

A map showing the location of Hardraw Force
Hardraw Force map

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

Hardraw Force Walk: Details and Logistics

Also known as the Hardraw Force Waterfall Walk, the Hardraw Force Walk is a combination of two trails – the Lower Walk and the Upper Walk. In reality, you only need to do the Lower Walk to access the waterfall. Whilst, the Upper Walk accesses the top of the falls, without providing any good views of the waterfall itself. Of course, to maximise your time there and to get the most out of the entrance cost, we recommend doing both walks.

Below, the trail specs reflect doing both the Lower and Upper Walks.

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 2.25km (1.4 miles)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 80m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead/Parking: Green Dragon Inn

FYI – walking to Hardraw Force from Hawes is a popular route option. Click here to find out more about the Hawes to Hardraw Force Walk.

Hardraw Force Walk Map

This is a map of the Lower and Upper Walks at Hardraw Force. Click here to access an interactive map of the Hardraw Force Walk, which includes both the Lower and Upper Walks.

Hardraw Force map

Hardraw Force Walk: Our Experience

Below, we’ll tell you about our experience doing the Hardraw Force Walk. We’ll provide a brief trail description and show you some epic photos of the waterfall walk.

Dan looks at woodlands

From the Hardraw Force Heritage Centre (AKA the Hardraw Force Cafe), located next to the car park, the walk begins! If you want to find out more about the waterfall and the history of the area, we recommend spending time at the Heritage Centre after the walk.

After paying and passing through the Heritage Centre, you’ll soon join a well-maintained track that leads you to the charming Hardraw Beck. You’ll then arrive at a bridge and the trailhead for both the Lower Walk (yellow Victorian stone flags) and Upper Walk (green Victorian stone flags). To commence the Lower Walk, you’ll simply stay on the track on either side of Hardraw Beck, heading upstream towards the waterfall.

Hardraw Force Heritage Centre
Heritage Centre

Hardraw Force Lower Walk

The tracks that are on either side of Hardraw Beck are located in picturesque woodlands. Certainly, the walk to the waterfall is a calming and peaceful walk, assuming you’ve arrived early or late to avoid the crowds.

Along the walk to the waterfall, you’ll pass another two bridges, which provide access to the opposite path. Personally, we took the path to the right of the stream. Eventually, we arrived at the end of the track and enjoyed our first marvellous views of Hardraw Force.

Dan does the Hardraw Force Walk

Hardraw Force

From the end of the Lower Track on the right, you’ll have one of the best viewpoints of the waterfall. Similar to the end of the Lower Track on the left, you’ll meet a gate that forbids accessing the base of the falls. This is a safety measure that has been put in place, likely for insurance purposes for the owners. Although, they’ll claim it’s for your safety, which, I suppose, it is – the rocks surrounding the base of the falls are very slippery.

Dan at Hardraw Force

Anyway, make sure to view the waterfall from both sides of the Lower Walk tracks to enjoy the best views of the waterfall. Once you’ve soaked in the immense vibes of the thundering drop, it’s time to follow the opposing track back towards the Heritage Centre. Once you’ve arrived back at the trailhead, you can commence the Upper Walk.

Dan walks across a bridge

Hardraw Force Upper Walk

To do the Upper Walk, you’ll follow the direction of the green Victorian stone flags. Again, it doesn’t really matter whether you go in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. Personally, Beck and I followed the Upper Walk track, to the right, which meant walking it in an anticlockwise direction. After a short steep climb, you’ll enter dense woodlands. You’ll follow alongside a stone wall, which indicates the boundary of the private estate.

Dan does the Hardraw Force Upper Walk

Admittedly, you won’t enjoy any decent views of the waterfall during the Upper Walk. You’ll catch the odd glimpse of the waterfall through the thick woodlands, but you’ll mostly have impeded views. Eventually, you’ll reach a bridge at the top of Hardraw Force. Essentially, the bridge takes you over Hardraw Beck, near the top of the falls. From the bridge, you can just see the top of the falls tumbling over the lip.

After crossing the bridge and continuing in an anti-clockwise direction, the Upper Walk meanders through more serene woodlands. You’ll eventually reach a series of steps, that lead you down to the floor of the ravine, alongside Hardraw Beck once again. By heading back to the Heritage Centre, you’ll complete the Hardraw Force Walk.

Beck stands on a bridge looking down at the water

Hawes to Hardraw Force Walk

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10.2km (1.4 miles)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 320m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Hawes

A popular longer walking route that involves Hardraw Force is the circular walk from Hawes. During this route variation, you’ll tackle some road walking, follow some countryside tracks and even briefly join the Pennine Way. Click here to access a Hawes to Hardraw Force circular walk map.

Admittedly, we don’t recommend the circular walk from Hawes to Hardraw Force. Personally, we think it’s best to simply visit the waterfall from the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw. Afterwards, we recommend doing the Aysgill Force Walk from Hawes instead.

Read more: Aysgill Force – A Guide to Walking From Hawes to Aysgill Force

Dan at Aysgill Force
Aysgill Force

Helpful Information About Hardraw Force

Now you know all about walks to Hardraw Force, let’s look at some other useful information to help plan your visit.

How to Get to Hardraw Force (Directions)

The easiest and quickest way to visit Hardraw 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.

Car Hire

DiscoverCars.com

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 Hardraw Force directions, simply follow directions to the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw.

Hardraw Force Parking

At the Green Dragon Inn, you’ll find a car park for guests at the inn and also for visitors to Hardraw Force. The large car park has enough space for around 20–30 vehicles and is located right next to the Heritage Centre. At the car park, you’ll find a toilet block.

Green Dragon and Waterfall Car Park sign at Hardraw Force

Public Transport

Although it’s possible to use public transport to get to Hardraw Force, we don’t recommend it. Depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you’ll likely have a slow and tedious journey. If public transport is your only option, we recommend using Google Maps, Traveline or Dales Bus to plan your journey. The nearest train station to the waterfall is Gardale Station.

You may find it’s easiest to get to Hawes and then to get a bus or taxi to the Green Dragon Inn. Although, buses are fairly infrequent.

Where to Stay Near Hardraw Force

When it comes to accommodation near Hardraw Force, it’s hard to look past the famous Green Dragon Inn.

Green Dragon Inn, Hardraw

The Green Dragon Inn is well-known because the famous poet, William Wordsworth and the famous artist, J. M. W. Turner, both stayed at the inn during their respective visits. Additionally, the country inn featured on the Channel 5 series All Creatures Great and Small.

Located next to the Hardraw Force Heritage Centre, it doesn’t get any more convenient than staying at the Green Dragon Inn, if you’re looking for a place to stay near the waterfall. The traditional country inn is highly rated. It features open fires as well as wood-beam ceilings and stone floors. The cosy pub also serves hearty meals.

Beck at the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw
Green Dragon, near Hawes

Otherwise, if you’re looking for accommodation near Hardraw Force, we recommend staying in the lovely nearby village of Hawes. Personally, Beck and I think Hawes is one of the most charming villages in the Dales. Better yet, the village has plenty of excellent accommodation options. Certainly, Hawes is a great base for seeing Hardraw Force.

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

Hawes Falls
Hawes Falls

The Best Budget Hawes Accommodation

  • YHA Hawes: by far, the most budget-friendly accommodation in Hawes is the YHA Hawes. If you’re on a budget, you’ll want to book an affordable shared dorm 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. Indeed, 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 features superb decor.
A hotel room
A fireplace in a hotel

The Best Luxury Hawes Accommodation

  • Simonstone Hall Hotel: the highly-rated four-star hotel was formerly a shooting lodge and is located just on the outskirts of Hawes. Because of the slightly removed location, you’ll enjoy 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 setting.
Birds-eye view of a hotel and gardens
Shared area in a hotel

Other Waterfalls in Wensleydale

Other than Hardraw Force, there are plenty of other superb waterfalls in Wensleydale. Below, we’ll look at the other best waterfalls in Wensleydale.

  • Cotter Force: a stunning multi-tier cascade waterfall that’s also located in Hardraw.
  • Aysgill Force: as mentioned, you can visit this gorgeous waterfall from Hawes.
  • Aysgarth Falls: another well-known set of waterfalls in the Dales.
  • West Burton Falls (AKA Cauldron Falls): an impressive waterfall located near Aysgarth Falls.
  • Askrigg Waterfalls Walk: explore two epic waterfalls from Askrigg – Mill Gill Force and Whitfield Gill Force.
  • Hawes Falls: you’ll find these quaint falls thundering through the town of Hawes.
Cotter Force
Cotter Force

Other Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales

Other than Wensleydale, the Yorkshire Dales as a whole, has plenty of awesome waterfalls to see. Below, we’ve listed other waterfall walks worth doing in the Dales.

Other lesser-known but impressive waterfalls worth visiting in the Yorkshire Dales include Buckden Beck Waterfalls, Cow Close Gill Waterfall and Gastack Beck Waterfall.

Read more: The Top 48 Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales

Dan and Beck at Cow Close Gill Waterfall
Cow Close Gill Waterfall

What to Wear and Take

These are our five walking gear essentials for walking to Hardraw 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 Hardraw Force

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

Do You Have to Pay to See Hardraw Force?

Yes, because it’s located on private property.

How Much Is Hardraw Force?

Most recently, the entrance fee is £4 per adult, £2 per child and £10 for a family of four (2 adults and 2 children). Children less than five years old can visit for free.

When Is Hardraw Force Open?

During summer, it’s open daily from 10am to 5pm. Whilst, during winter, it’s open daily from 10am to 4pm. During winter months, sometimes, the Heritage Centre isn’t staffed. So, entry is operated by a turnstile. You’ll need to make sure you have the correct change (50p, £1, £2 coins to operate the turnstile – old school, right?!)

How Long Is the Hardraw Force Walk?

By doing the Lower and Upper Walks, the walk is approx. 2.25km (1.4 miles), which takes around an hour.

How Far Is Hardraw Force From Hawes?

The waterfall is an approx. 2.5km (1.6 mile) drive away from Hawes and only takes around five minutes.

Can You Walk Behind Hardraw Force?

No, not anymore. When Beck and I first visited together in 2019, there was no signage or rules forbidding access to the base of the falls. But, you’re no longer allowed to access the base of the falls. So, walking behind the waterfall is no longer possible.

Can You Swim at Hardraw Force?

Hardraw Force swimming is forbidden as you’re not allowed to access the base of the falls.

What Is the Geology of Hardraw Force?

Well, it all started around 350,000,000 years ago, during the Middle Carboniferous period, when the Yoredale Series began to form closer to the equator. Over millions of years and with some glacial activity, the Karst limestone landscape that we see today in the Yorkshire Dales was formed.

Overall, the site at Hardraw Force contains a mixture of limestone, including Hawes, Gayle, Hardrow Scaur, Simonstone, Middle, Five Yard, Three Yard, Underset and Main types of limestone. In Wensleydale, the Yoredale Series limestone group sits on top of the Great Scar limestone group.

Who Owns Hardraw Force?

Mark Thompson owned the Green Dragon at Hardraw between 2001 and 2016, when he retired. Thereafter, he has leased the property; although, it’s been reported he will sell to the most recent leaseholders – Chris Robinson and Ann Rennoldson.

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 For Visiting Hardraw Force

  • Arrive at opening time: to avoid the crowds, we recommend arriving at the opening time (10am). That way, you’ll get to explore the waterfall all to yourselves.
  • Visit after heavy rainfall: certainly, the waterfall looks better after a period of rainfall.
  • The Lower Walk is wheelchair friendly: bear in mind, the Upper Walk isn’t accessible to those using wheelchairs or pushchairs.
  • It’s a dog-friendly attraction: pooch is more than welcome to visit if well-behaved.

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

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen 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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