Low Force in Durham

Rory Calland
This Is Durham, Low Force Waterfall

Upper Teesdale in Durham is a haven for nature lovers, significant for its flora, geology and natural water features. An ancient layer of dolerite forms the ‘Whin Sill’, and outcrops of the erosion-resistant rock along the Tees river are responsible for some spectacular waterfalls. High Force is the highest waterfall in England and possesses awesome power. Swimming there is not an option, but hold fire, a stroll through the wooded upland will soon lead you to Low Force, another (slightly smaller) cascade of silty water. Here you may spot some kayakers flying over the ledge. The Pennine Way will lead you downstream along the bank from here, and you’ll find a calm pool off to the side away from the roil of the waterfall itself. There are plenty of walkers along this path, including guided tours, but amongst the foliage it’s possible to find a little spot of your own to wade in.

Warm water is a scarcity in England as it is, but the further North you go the icier it becomes. This area in the North Pennines is classified as a sub-arctic, it’s this climate and the legacy of the ice age on the land that allow some of Britain’s rarest flowers to grow here. It also means the water is at times perilously cold. If you can brave it and bathe here in the tees you’ll be rewarded with an arresting sense of history. Some of the trees around you are 250 years old, the rock is over 300 million. Nearby you may spot a sculpture by a local artist called Keith Alexander, two limestone sheep on a drystone wall, the inscription below reads “it reverts to scrub, once it’s gone it’s lost.” Another inscription is a quote from a walker, “it’s a wonderful place to be.”

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What's on near Low Force in Durham

Where to go near Low Force in Durham

High Force Hotel
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High Force Hotel

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