Aysgarth Falls are a triple flight of waterfalls on the River Ure near Aysgarth in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales.
They stretch over a mile and are at their most spectacular after rain when the river is full and thousands of gallons of water cascade over the series of limestone steps.
Aysgarth Falls were used as the backdrop to one of the scenes in the film ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’.
- Spectacular triple flight of waterfalls stretching over a mile in River Ure
- Located near Aysgarth village in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales
- Used in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner
- Featured on the 2005 television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders in northern England.
- Beautiful walks nearby with lovely views of the river, the falls and countryside
- St Andrew’s church, in Aysgarth village, has the largest graveyard in England, reputedly.
A bit of history
The name Aysgarth comes from old Norse, meaning ‘the open space in the oak trees’. The Falls have their origin in the Ice Age many thousands of years ago, when enormous glaciers ground down the valleys. Bishopdale, a smaller nearby valley was ground deeper than Wensleydale forcing in the River Ure to drop a significant distance to meet up with it. The river bed was horizontal layers of hard limestone separated by thin bands of soft shale and the fall of water gradually carved out the falls we now see. The rocks themselves were laid down some 300 million years ago when the area was a sea bed.
There are still plenty of oak trees and other flora – so much so that the area is now protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Visitors have been coming to marvel at the beauty of the Falls for over 200 years, with Ruskin, Turner and Wordsworth among them.
Aysgarth Falls is part of the Freeholders’ Wood Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and the clean waters of the River Ure are teeming with wildlife. Brown trout and grayling thrive and the native white clawed crayfish can also be found here. Mayflies, stoneflies and other insects provide a plentiful source of food for fish and birds. You may even be lucky enough to spot trout jumping out of the water to catch flies on warm summer evenings if you’re in one of the quieter sections of the river. The many different varieties of birds along the river include the Dipper , and a number of varieties of Wagtail .
Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre
The Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre is next to the nature reserve. There is plenty of parking together with a shop, cafe and toilets. The Centre is open 7 days a week between April and October with reduced opening from November to March.
There’s more here than Aysgarth Falls, however. You’ll find pretty walks winding through the wooded valley, offering wonderful views. Wild flowers appear in the spring and summer, and wild birds, squirrels and deer may also be seen.
The tiny village of Aysgarth offers some accommodation so that you can enjoy the area for longer. The George and Dragon, an old coaching inn, dates from the 17th century and is now a Grade II listed building. You can enjoy local real ale from the Black Sheep Brewery and the Yorkshire Dales Brewing Company in its friendly bar.
The Parish Church, St. Andrew’s, was substantially rebuilt in 1536, further restored in 1866 and is now a Grade II listed building. The unusually large churchyard covers four acres and, by reputation, is the largest in England. The church holds a number of fittings that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, including a mediaeval wooden screen and the abbot’s stall.
Aysgarth Station sits between the villages of Aysgarth and Carperby. Opened in February 1877, in its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, five passenger services each way per day came through the station along with the freight services that supported the lightly populated rural area. The growth of road transport proved the death knell of the railway and passenger services stopped in April 1954 with freight services finishing 10 years later. The station was then closed and the track lifted.
In April 2011 a group of volunteers from the Wensleydale Railway started a three year programme to refurbish Aysgarth station site ahead of an extension of the Wensleydale Railway from Redmire. The station is now open to visitors who can admire, among other attractions, a 26ft model of Aysgarth station site from the 1930s.
Where to stay in Aysgarth
Aysgarth is a small village so accommodation is limited. Here are a few places to stay in the village. There are more options further afield, of course.
|The George & Dragon Inn, Aysgarth, Leyburn, DL8 3AD|
|Field House, East End, Aysgarth, Leyburn DL8 3AB|
|‘The Falls’, Church Bank, Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire, DL8 3SR|