Waterfalls, Rivers and Lakes

 

There is something undeniably beautiful about walking close to water. The rushing of a waterfall; the trickle of a stream; the shapes on the surface of a lake when the wind blows. These scenes have inspired artists and poets throughout centuries, but the best thing is that with changing weather and varying light, no two walks by the same stretch of water will ever be the same. To help you experience the peace of a watery walk, here are a selection of trails that visit our favourite waterfalls, rivers, lochs and lakes.

Thames Path

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Over the course of centuries, the River Thames has come to be inextricably linked with London living. It is as famous as Big Ben, as historic as the Tower of London and as important as the Houses of Parliament, but few people realise that beyond the boundaries of the capital city, the Thames continues on a picturesque route all the way to its source in the Cotswold Hills. It is this journey that is shadowed by the Thames Path National Trail, revealing a striking variety of scenery, from tranquil meadows and restful fields to pretty riverside paths and charming towns and villages.

The itineraries that we offer cover the western section of the Thames Path from the source of the river near Cirencester to Pangbourne near Reading. Beyond this, the way becomes more urban and busy as it approaches London on route to the Thames Barrier where it meets the sea. Of course, if you would like to extend your walk along the Thames Path and walk the eastern section too, please contact us as we will be happy to make arrangements for you.

 

The Yorkshire Dales

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Most of the rolling Yorkshire Dales take their names from the rivers that carve their way through the hills and valleys. Scattered in between these are a network of caves and waterfalls that have been created over centuries of limestone erosion. The gentle rumbling of water and delightful twitter of riverside birds has led to Yorkshire being regarded as one of the most tranquil areas in the country and a haven for walkers.

The River Nidd lends its name to the lesser-known valley of Nidderdale and as the Nidderdale Way follows the banks of the river, skirting the edge of Scar House and Gouthwaite Reservoirs, there is plenty of time for contemplation and relaxation.

If you would like to trace the course of a river from its end to its source, consider walking the Swale Way, which closely follows the River Swale as it flows through the hills and meadows of Swaledale. Upon reaching Keld, there are a variety of waterfalls to visit including Kisdon Force and Catrake Fore, which are also encountered by the Pennine Way as it makes its way north and Wain Wath Force, which is also passed on the Coast to Coast Walk.

If you would like to visit England's highest single-drop waterfall at Hardraw Force, as well as the famous Aysgarth Waterfalls, consider walking the Herriot Way. The trail follows sections of both the River Ure and the River Swale.

 

Teesdale Way and Pennine Way

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Teesdale is a dale on the eastern side of the Pennine range. For those interested in waterfalls, the area offers three of the country's finest. Low Force flows over the Whin Sill, which was formed over 295 million years ago. High Force is reputed to be England's largest waterfall, although other falls in North Yorkshire and Cumbria have been proven to be higher. All the same, fierce cascades drop into the plunge pool below, proving that it is one of the most voluminous waterfalls in Britain. Finally, the peculiarly named Cauldron Snout, where the cascades are long, as well as substantial, is a wonderful spot to rest and marvel at the area's natural wonders. Low Force, High Force and Cauldron Snout can be visited on both the Teesdale Way and the Pennine Way. The Pennine Way passes through the area on its route north and the Teesdale Way follows the course of the River Tees through the wildflower meadows and ancient woodland of the Durham Dales.

 

Lake District Short Breaks


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If you only have a few days to spare, heading to the Lake District for a short break is a shore fire way to satisfy your yearning for a waterside walk. So called because of its lakes, waters and tarns, the Lake District is home to some of the wildest, most rugged scenery in England and as the mountains rise up around numerous bodies of water, the stories that are attached to each are a joy to discover on even the shortest of walks. To experience England's largest natural lake, try the Windermere Way. Windermere is a ribbon lake, meaning that it is long and narrow. There are 18 islands and from viewpoints such as Orrest Head, there are marvellous views over its profile. The trail also encounters Stock Ghyll Force, a pretty waterfall that once powered twelve watermills.

Of course, there is such a lot to see and experience in the Lake District, you may not want to restrict yourself to circling just one lake. The North Lakes Short Break traces the shores of Derwentwater and enjoys spectacular views of Buttermere and Crummock Water, as well as visiting Scale Force Waterfall, the highest waterfall in the Lake District.

The South Lakes Short Break begins on the shores of Windermere and walks above Rydal Water, pretty Blea Tarn and Little Langdale Tarn as well as Coniston Water and Tarn Hows, before returning to Windermere. There could not be a better introduction to the Lake District and its lakes.

On the East Lakes Short Break, Wastwater is visited. It is the deepest of the lakes and feels particularly wild as it is surrounded by some of England's highest mountains. Also on the route is Stanley Ghyll Force, another competitor for the title of prettiest waterfall.

 

Usk Valley Walk, Dee Way and Wye Valley Walk

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For a relatively easy walk through lush Welsh fields, woodlands and riverside tracks, the Usk Valley Walk is a delight. The trail follows the River Usk, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the diverse range of habitats along its course. As well as pretty riverbank scenes, the Usk Valley Walk passes castles, cathedrals and villages full of charm as well as taking in views of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons.

Sweeping through historic Marches towns with castles, forts, abbeys and magnificent feats of engineering, the River Dee makes its way from the slopes of Dduallt in Snowdonia to the market town of Bala. The Dee Way passes through ancient wooded valleys and encounters tidal estuaries busy with birdlife, visiting a World Heritage Site amongst the many other unforgettable locations along the trail.

As if the Rivers Usk and Dee were not testament enough to Wales' beauty, the River Wye comes along to showcase not only the fifth longest river in the UK, but also some of the prettiest scenery. In fact, William Wordsworth was so taken by the romantic woodlands and sweeping curves of the Wye that he was inspired to write about it in Lyrical Ballads. The river is famed for its wildlife, so a keen eye could reveal salmon, deer, kingfishers, otters and red kites amongst the many species that live along the Wye Valley Walk.

 

Speyside Way


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The clean, fast-flowing water of the River Spey provides the perfect living conditions for a range of rare species. Salmon return each year to spawn up stream; fishermen return to catch the salmon and wildlife lovers return year upon year to experience the abundant wildlife that lives along the river. Yet, it is for a very different reason that the Speyside Way has become famous - a reason that is closely linked to Scotland's history and heritage - whisky making.

Water is a vital ingredient of single malt whisky and the purer the better. As springs flow through the mountains, filter through the peat and flow over the rocks, everything that is wild and unique about the Scottish landscape flows in to the water, flavouring the very whisky that is distilled along its banks. As well as exploring the forests, heath, moorland and ancient landscape between the Moray Firth and the Cairngorms, the Speyside Way visits some of the most famous of Scottish distilleries including Glenfiddich, Cardhu and Glenlivet. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the Speyside Way than by exploring the river bank step by step and then sampling a wee dram of Scotland's famous drink.