7 Must-See Waterfalls in the UK
The UK is renowned for its stretch of stunning countryside views, but when you think about iconic waterfalls, our small island rarely comes to mind.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a dazzling stream along a cliff face or a river leading into a plunging drop – the UK has a number of waterfall hotspots bound to take your breath away.
Naturally, many of these ethereal springs are situated among historical valleys and picturesque nature reserves, so you have the benefit of enjoying the surrounding scenery too.
To help you choose your next trip, we have listed 7 of the best waterfalls in the UK that could fool your Instagram followers into thinking you were abroad.
Where are the best waterfalls in the UK?
The UK is home to an abundance of waterfalls, but because the North and West areas of England see some of the heaviest downpours of rain and the wettest climate, naturally, it’s this area of the country which is home to the majority of waterfalls.
As it was formerly glaciated, the Lake District boasts thousands of small-scale waterfalls and a handful of the more spectacular ones in the country – namely the Aira Force.
Aira Force, Lake District
Walk location: Near Glenridding in Cumbria, the Aira Force Circular is a 1.3-mile easy-to-follow loop trail starting from the National Trust Aira Force car park with a path up to the highest waterfall and back down the other side.
Avg walk time: 40mins – 2hrs
Although it’s not one of the largest waterfalls on the list, the Aira Force waterfall parades the power and beauty of nature and is situated in the idyllic Lake District. Aira Force lies 150m above sea level and comprises the river, Aira Beck, which drops 20m down the rocky face of a deep, narrow gorge and is framed by two historical Victorian bridges.
The site, which is owned by the National Trust, can be accessed via numerous routes and features surrounding facilities, such as car parking, disabled access, graded paths, and viewing platforms.
One of the most popular walks to see the waterfall is the 1.3-mile circular trail which benefits from some of the Lake District’s most idyllic views.
Gaping Gill, Ingleborough, North Yorkshire
Walk location: In Clapham village, follow the footpath through the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail, pass the Ingleborough Cave, through Trow Gill and onto the moorland below Ingleborough.
Avg walk time: 2 – 3 hrs
Located in the heart of the Gaping Gill natural caves, the underground waterfall is an iconic landmark in its own right and holds the record for the highest unbroken waterfall in England as well as the largest underground chamber naturally open to the surface.
Near the village stream, the caving site emerges from an arch named the Clapham Beck Head. The waterfall is accessible via Gaping Gill Ingleborough Cave System which provides both the entrance and exit.
Water flows underneath the trail, leading to the large shake hole where the Fell Beck stream forms into the impressive Gaping Gill waterfall.
High Force, Durham
Walk location: Parking is available at Bowlees Visitor Centre, walkers can then follow the Pennine Way for about 3 miles.
Avg walk time: 3 – 4hrs
This well-known spot is perfect for those less-experienced walkers, as England’s largest waterfall is easily-accessible through an immaculate woodland trail and only requires a leisurely wander.
The serene walk leads you to the popular waterfall, which is placed at the top of the North Pennines where the River Tees increasingly grows and plunges 21m into the pool below.
Situated only a short drive away from Raby Castle, a medieval castle in Staindrop, Darlington, this site is one of the more touristy hotspots on the list.
Aber Falls, Gwynedd
Walk location: Starting from the Aber Falls car park, visitors can follow the 2-mile Aber Falls Path to the waterfall, where there are some areas of steepness.
Avg walk time: 2 – 4 hrs
Recognised as one of Wales’ national treasures, the Aber Falls waterfall is located a 2-mile walk from the village of Abergwyngregyn in Gwynedd. Although the track is well-maintained and follows a steady gradient, there are some areas of steepness that require more attention, especially in wetter seasons.
Aber Falls itself gathers from the Afon Goch river and descends 37m over the rockface foothills of the Carneddau Welsh mountains. Visitors also have the advantage of observing the natural woodland scenery and remarkable mountain views.
Glenariff Forest Park, County Antrim
Walk location: From Glenariff Forest Park the 1.8-mile walk follows the waymarked waterfall trail down the steps, along the boardwalks through the nature reserve and the river gorge and past the waterfalls.
Avg walk time: 2 – 4 hours
Recognised as one of the most popular outdoor tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, the Glenariff Waterfall walk is a must for avid walkers.
Referred to as the ‘Queen of the Glens’ the forest park is full to the brim with lakes, woodlands, waterfalls and wildlife, but can only be accessed on foot through the trail.
The walk through the forest and along the river gorge will take visitors to some of the most phenomenal looking waterfalls.
St Nectan’s Kieve, Cornwall, England
Walk location: The St Nectan’s Glen trail is a 1.8-mile walk to the waterfalls through the woodland.
Avg walk time: 1 – 3 hrs
Hidden in a woodland close to Tintagel in North Cornwall, St Nectan’s Glen is a forest area of woodland that features a number of waterfalls, including the 18m Nectan’s Kieve, that due to stone erosion, now bursts through a hole in the rocks.
On the waterfall trail, you will be led through the forest on a picturesque walk by the side of the River Trevillet where enchanting-looking trees line the path.
For many, St Nectan’s Kieve has become a sacred tourist attraction as the tranquil site now sees visitors leaving ribbons, crystals and scriptures around the waterfall and on the woodland’s foliage.
Eas a’Chual Aluinn, Sutherland, Scotland
Walk location: You can access the walk from a parking area on the bend of the A894, between the Kylesku and Lochinver junction near the north end of Loch na Gainmhich.
Avg walk time: 4-6 hours
If you’re looking for the UK’s highest waterfall, we’ve saved the best until last…
Known officially as Britain’s highest and biggest waterfall, at 638ft, Eas a’Chual Aluinn is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the UK.
In English, the Gaelic-named waterfall directly translates to ‘waterfall of the beautiful tresses’ and it’s clear to see why with its 200m cascade over the staggering Loch Glencoul.
In terms of hiking, the walk to Eas a’Chual Aluinn is one of the more arduous treks on the list, as the trail will take you along stepping stones and steep hills. Along with this, the route is not signposted, so it helps if you’re an experienced hiker and map-follower.
Alternatively, if you don’t fancy the hike, you can get a boat tour to the destination – trips depart from Kylesku Hotel at 11am and 1pm daily, the weather and tide permitting.
Are you prepped for your waterfall trails?
Unlike popular hiking areas, many waterfalls do not have the well-maintained trails you’d often find in a landmark area. So, it’s worth getting prepped with the right equipment so you feel comfortable enough to tackle the hike to the waterfall.
Live in the North? We also recently listed 5 of the best-known and hidden waterfalls in the Peak District.
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and use the hashtag #seatosummituk so our team can follow your waterfall adventures!