There’s something magical about waterfalls. The soft roar of the water combined with a typically lush, green backdrop makes these areas simultaneously awe-inspiring and peaceful to visit.

There’s something magical about waterfalls. The soft roar of the water combined with a typically lush, green backdrop makes these areas simultaneously awe-inspiring and peaceful to visit.

Fortunately for you, we have some of the best waterfalls in the UK that you can explore at your leisure. In this guide, we’ll take you through a selection of our top waterfalls from all over the UK and why you should pay them a visit.

The Best Waterfalls in England

We’re lucky to have a lot of beautiful countryside across England, which meant we had plenty to choose from when we were picking our list of the best waterfalls. 

Aira Force – Penrith, Cumbria

We’re starting strong with Aira Force, in the Lake District – because if there’s anything the North West of England is good for, it’s being wet.

Sitting near the Ullswater, Aira Force became popular in the 18th Century as a pleasure garden. Nowadays, it’s probably one of the most well-known waterfalls in the Lakes, and is managed by the National Trust for everyone to visit and enjoy.

With plenty of woodland trails and quiet glades, you’ll definitely get your steps in on the way to Aira Beck – a glorious waterfall dropping 65 feet down into the earth below. Fortunately, the 2.1k waterfall trail is suitable for all skill levels, making it a perfect family day out in the summer.

Top tip: the trail can get slippery when wet, so make sure to take extra care over steep or uneven sections of the path – and always use the handrail.

Gaping Gill – Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales

If you have a fear of heights, look away now. But if not, then you may want to consider a descent into Gaping Gill to see and explore one of the highest unbroken waterfalls in England.

At roughly 365 feet (111m) deep, Gaping Gill is one of the most famous caves in the Yorkshire Dales. For context, this is the same height as St. Paul’s Cathedral in London!

Alongside the stunning natural caverns and rock formations, with a trip to this cave you can see the Fell Beck stream falling an astonishingly long way to disperse below the rocks and drain back through to Ingleborough Cave.

Top tip: trips into Gaping Gill for the general public are run by two local climbing clubs twice a year – so be sure to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

High Force – Teesdale, County Durham

Nestled within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Beauty, High Force sits between the Raby Estate to the North, and the Pennine Way footpath to the south – so there’s plenty for you and the family to explore during your visit.

At around 70 feet (21m) high, High Force is a spectacular waterfall made when the River Tees plunges almost vertically down a cliff face into a pool below. The sheer volume of water makes this not just one of the most impressive waterfalls in England, but one of the best waterfalls in the UK.

After heavy rainfall, High Force is even more impressive, sometimes splitting into two waterfalls either side of the cliff – or surging right over the centre after a storm. High Force has even been known to freeze over in the winter, creating a truly spectacular backdrop within the landscape.

Top tip: the walk to and around High Force is of medium difficulty, so you’ll need to take care on the journey. Explore our range of Walking Boots to take you every step of the way.

Lightspout Waterfall – Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire

Carding Mill Valley and the Long Mynd in Shropshire is an absolutely stunning area to visit in the West Midlands. There, in the very heart of this area, stands (or rather falls) the Lightspout Waterfall.

Cascading down a 4m rocky outcrop, Lightspout Waterfall splits off into different streams as it tumbles down the rockface – and is especially impressive after heavy rainfall. Plus, there’s plenty of rare plants and interesting rock formations and geographical features to enjoy during your trip.

Top tip: the walk to the waterfall is moderate to challenging (depending on your access needs), so you need to be prepared to make a day of it when you visit. But it’s certainly worth the trip. 

St Nectan’s Kieve – Tintagel, Cornwall

Meanwhile, in the southwest of England, St Nectan’s Kieve is a hidden gem in the heart of Tintagel that’s perfect for the whole family to visit.

The relatively easy woodland trail through the glen will lead you to St Nectan’s Kieve (from the Cornish cuva meaning tub), where the River Trevillet plunges a path down through a slate outcropping, through a natural stone arch and into the pool below.

This lush, ancient woodland of St Nectan’s Glen has long been home to birds, wildlife and rare plants (leading it to be appointed a Site of Special Scientific Interest). There’s also a long mythic history to the glen, as it’s believed that Cornish piskies made this woodland their home.

Fun fact: St Nectan’s Kieve is considered a highly spiritual place. Why not tie a ribbon to the Clootie Tree to honour the spirit of the glen?

The Best Waterfalls in Wales 

Wales has long been known for having several areas of outstanding beauty. Between the rolling valleys and rocky national parks, we were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing some of the best waterfalls in Wales.

Rhaeadr Fawr (Aber Falls) – Eryri (Snowdonia), Gwynedd

Marked as ‘easy access for all’ by the Snowdonia National Park authority, Aber Falls is a fairly short walk, making it the perfect beginner route to get the whole family involved in exploring waterfalls in North Wales. 

Plus, Aber Falls is considered one of the most dramatic waterfalls in Wales – so not a bad place to start really! 

Set at the base of the Carneddau mountains, Aber Falls marks an important landmark on the Afon Goch’s (Red River) journey to the Menai Straits by plunging 120 feet (roughly 36m) into a pool and past the nearby village of Abergwyngregyn.

Top tip: there are several standing stones and cairns on the walk, and even some Bronze Age excavation sites for you to learn about and explore.

Pistyll Rhaeadr – Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, Powys

Located just inside the Welsh border, Pistyll Rhaeadr is one of the tallest single drop waterfalls in the UK at 240 feet (80m) high. It’s located close to the village of Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant, with Oswestry nearby on the English side of the border.

Often referred to as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales, Pistyll Rhaeadr is formed by the Afon Disgynfa falling down a cliff in three stages until it meets the Afon Rhaeadr.

Top tip: this incredibly beautiful waterfall is also ideally situated within the Berwyn Mountains, offering you the chance to explore even more of the countryside.

What’s more, the walk to the top of the waterfall is short, with most people taking an average of 20 minutes. This makes this one of the best waterfalls in the UK for family visits because everyone can enjoy the experience.

Waterfall Country – Brecon Beacons, Powys

This is a bit of a cheeky choice, but we couldn’t talk about waterfalls in the UK, and especially in Wales, without mentioning Waterfall Country. This stretch of land in the Brecon Beacons is home to several of the most beautiful waterfalls in Wales.

For example, you could traverse the Four Falls trail, which will take you through the following: Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira. These all form part of the River Mellte, and is one of the more challenging walks at 5.5 miles (around 8.85km).

Or, take a chance on discovering the entrance to a fairy kingdom as you walk the Elidir trail to see the Sgwd Gwladus Waterfall. Plus, along the way you’ll see the Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls), and Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (the Lower and Upper Gushing Falls respectively).

Top tip: Be on the lookout for Sgwd, Pistyll, and Rhaeadr when you’re exploring the country – they all mean ‘waterfall’.

Rhaeadr Ddu – Coed Ganllwyd, Gwynedd

Part of a series of waterfalls that make up the journey of the River Gamlan, Rhaeadr Ddu (Black Falls) is made of two waterfalls cascading down over 60 feet (18m) into the river below.

This impressive sight is found in the Coed Ganllwyd woodland, an area considered to be one of the best, and richest, sites for mosses and liverworts in Western Europe due to the consistent humidity across the gorge.

Top tip: this area is a prime habitat for bats and breeding woodland birds. Why not learn more with your children about these animals before reaching the waterfall?

There are plenty of walking routes available in the area, from 100m circular walks, to more demanding trails over 2km. However, it’s worth noting that the areas around and to the falls are quite steep – so it’s not for the faint-hearted. To make your life easier, pick up a pair of Walking Poles to help you up the slopes.

Devil’s Bridge Falls – Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

Sitting in the heart of the Cambrian Mountains in West Wales, Devil’s Bridge Falls (made of the Mynach Falls) is a monumental tiered waterfall descending around just over 298 feet (91m) in total – making it one of the highest waterfalls in Wales.

According to legend, the original bridge was built by the Devil, who agreed on the condition he would receive the soul of the first being to cross it. In the tale, an old woman tricked the Devil, by throwing bread onto the bridge, which her dog quickly ran after – making it the first being to cross and satisfying the conditions.

Today, you can see the three bridges across the Punchbowl area – thought to be from the 12th, 18th, and early 20th Century. 

Top tip: to see more of the Rheidol Valley, you could get a steam train from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge – which has been running since 1902!

It’s important to note that Devil’s Bridge Falls is one of the more challenging waterfalls to walk, with lots of steep steps to navigate.

The Best Waterfalls in Scotland

Moving further north, there are plenty of beautiful and dramatic waterfalls in Scotland for you to visit. From up in the Highlands to further out, exploring the waterfalls of Scotland could be the perfect choice for your next family holiday or camping staycation.

Eas a’ Chual Aluinn – Sutherland, Highlands

If you want to put yourself to the test to see the highest waterfall in the UK, you need to head up to Scotland – more specifically to Sutherland to see the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn.

With a massive 638 feet drop (around 194m), Eas a’ Chual Aluinn descends over a plateau in two steps into Loch Glencoul below. This can be a very intense hike over 6 miles (10km) of sometimes boggy terrain – and you may have to scramble to get a good view.

Alternatively, in good weather, you can take a boat from Kylesku which will give you a fantastic view of the falls. Either way, you should make sure to pack a Waterproof Jacket to keep you warm and dry.

Fun fact: the Scottish Gaelic for this waterfall is said to be ‘Eas a’ Chùil Àlainn’, which is thought to translate to ‘waterfall of the beautiful tresses’. The current (more well known) name is an English corruption.

Easan na Miasaich (The Falls of Measach) – Braemore/Ullapool, Ross-shire

If you fancy a trip up to the Scottish Highlands, one place you need to put on your list is the Falls of Measach. These are one of the best waterfalls in Scotland, and definitely worth a visit.

Tumbling down into the Corrieshalloch Gorge, the River Droma crashes over the Falls of Measach for 45m (147 feet) into the naturally occurring box canyon. As part of the, admittedly steep, short walk around the area, you can look down directly upon the crashing water from a Victorian suspension bridge – talk about dizzying views! 

Or, for the best picture of the front of the falls, there are plenty of viewing platforms further along the trail that push out over the gorge.

Top tip: although steep, this walk should still be wheelchair accessible.

Mealt Falls – Portree, Isle of Skye

Many of the waterfalls on this list spill into everflowing basins and rivers – but Mealt Falls on the Isle of Skye tumbles a whopping 90m (295 feet) down a cliff face directly onto the shoreline and into the sea below.

With water flowing across from Loch Mealt, Mealt Falls is one of the most dramatic waterfalls in the UK. The spectacular view of the waterfall, shoreline, and even Kilt Rock in the distance definitely warrants Mealt Falls a visit.

Top tip: in the summer, you may even see dolphins and other aquatic animals swimming through the waves. Why not bring a pair of Binoculars to help you spot them?

Mealt Falls is primarily accessed via the A855 at Ellishadder, then you can park up and stroll along the cliffs to take in the incredible atmosphere. Remember to take your time – they’re not going anywhere soon!

Falls of Glomach – Kyle, Ross-shire

The Falls of Glomach is not for the faint-hearted, but if you can make the trip you’ll be blown away by the sight of one of the highest waterfalls in the UK.

Only reachable on foot, getting to this isolated waterfall in Scotland will take about six hours (there and back) across relatively challenging terrain. Once you arrive, you’ll be confronted with a spectacular view of water crashing down a narrow cut-out in the cliffs – following different pathways and irregular drops.

Top tip: make sure to pack well with a Water Bottle to stay hydrated along this challenging trail.

You’ll need an adventurous spirit to complete this trek – but you’ll certainly be rewarded for your efforts.

Grey Mare’s Tail – Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway

Flowing from Loch Skeen and cresting at 60m (197 feet), Grey Mare’s Tail is yet another of the tallest waterfalls in the UK found in the gorgeous Scottish landscape.

Cascading down the cliff face into the valley below, Grey Mare’s Tail is a stunningly beautiful part of the Moffat Water Valley. With plenty of streams spreading out across the rock, the fanning water makes it easy to see where the name came from for this iconic Scottish waterfall.

Plus, you can see the peaks of Lochcraig Head, Mid Craig, and White Coomb – and even as far south as the Lake District and Northumberland on a clear day. This area is also the natural habitat of peregrine falcons, feral goats, and even ospreys – making it the perfect location for wildlife lovers.

Top tip: take one of the ranger-guided tours to look for fossils throughout the rock.

The Best Waterfalls in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has a rich and varied landscape, with everything from rocky shorelines like the Giant’s Causeway to The Mournes mountain range – and a plethora of wooded glens and forests between. So, it’s entirely unsurprising that there are several charming waterfalls nestled within the land.

Tollymore Forest – Newcastle, County Down

What the waterfalls in Northern Ireland lack in height, they definitely make up for in atmosphere – which can certainly be said for the Stepstones which interrupt the flow of the River Shimna.

Rather than crashing and cascading water coming from upon high, the waterfalls at Tollymore Forest (in the foothills of The Mournes) are subtle, and create a welcoming sense of calm adventure.

By following the River trail through the woodland, you’ll come across small but beautiful waterfalls as the Shimna winds its way through the landscape. Adventuring here is perfect for the family, with a moderate gradient allowing everyone to get some exercise without too much strain.

Fun fact: you may recognise some of Tollymore Forest as the lands of Winterfell (and House Stark) in the first series of Game of Thrones.

Ness Country Park – Killaloo, County Derry-Londonderry

Looking for a more laid-back adventure? Then Ness Country Park in County Derry-Londonderry might just be the one for you.

This beautiful nature reserve has over 55 hectares of woodland and parkland for you to explore. But, it’s also home to the highest waterfall in Northern Ireland, which has even influenced the name of the area – as Ness (or an las) means waterfall.

During the last ice age, the River Burntollet was blocked, and forced to create a new path through the landscape. The many, many years of erosion has resulted in the gorges, rapids, and waterfalls that you can see today.

Fun fact: this area is home to Purple Hairstreak butterflies, which are an unusual breed in Northern Ireland.

Glenoe Waterfall – Gleno, County Antrim

County Antrim, in the north-east of Northern Ireland, has a wealth of waterfalls and woodland (so it’s to no-one’s surprise we’ve chosen two of our list from this beautiful county).

The first is Glenoe Waterfall. This utterly charming waterfall is nestled within the Glens of Antrim near the village of Gleno – and is definitely a hidden gem of the county.

Whilst it’s smaller than many on our list – cresting at 30 feet (9m) – this is one of the most enchanting locations you can visit in the UK, and is perfect for a family day out. Whilst you’ll need to take care of the rocky and wet ground, the actual steps throughout the glen are reasonably easy to traverse – so everyone can enjoy the views.

Top tip: Glenoe Falls are along the Causeway Coastal Driving Route, so why not make a holiday of it and explore more of what County Antrim has to offer?

Glenariff Waterfalls – Glenariff, County Antrim

Our other pick from County Antrim, Glenariff Forest Park has a wonderful series of waterfalls that can be seen throughout the area.

Known as the ‘Queen of the Glens’, Glenariff is one of the nine Antrim Glens found across the county. The 3km Waterfall walk trail winds through the nature reserve, where you can see some of the best waterfalls in Northern Ireland.

This is only accessible by foot, and you’ll need to be prepared for a lot of steps and steep climbs – but the calming atmosphere of the glen makes it well worth the effort.

Top tip: you could also take the Scenic trail, which is around 8.9km, and takes you down into the Inver River Gorge and nearly all the way to Ess-na-Crub waterfall.

Visiting waterfalls in the UK

We’re blessed with having an incredible landscape in the UK – from hills and mountains, to lakes and waterfalls. But it’s our responsibility to ensure we look after these areas for generations to come, which is why we’ve included some key tips for staying safe and preserving the natural beauty of our environment.

  • Remember not to leave any litter – take a backpack with you to carry everything back home.
  • Try not to disturb any wildlife habitats.
  • Be careful when you’re visiting, and stand well clear of the edges.
  • Keep dogs on leads unless otherwise instructed.

Together, we can explore the outdoors safely, and make sure everyone has the best experience at waterfalls across the UK.

Have we missed any?

We know that there are a plethora of incredibly beautiful waterfalls up and down the UK – and maybe your favourite is here on our list. But, if it isn’t, why not spread the love by sharing photos with us using the hashtag #WalkWithUs.

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