“16 waterfalls and 1000 steps, have a great day”. These were the words that greeted us by the security guards at the entrance to the ancient woodlands at Ingleton Waterfalls in Yorkshire. And I’d say they sum up the waterfalls’ trail pretty nicely!
I’ve lived within a half hour drive of Ingleton Waterfalls for the last 7 years, and my husband’s lived here even longer. And yet we’d never visited until last weekend. Attractions like this always seem to be things you visit when you’re on holiday or visiting somewhere new but you never seem to visit the ones that are right in front of you.
Part of my mission this year is to take stock and appreciate my own home town and surrounding local area. So on Sunday morning with the sun shining, we decided there was no good reason not to visit, and off we went – picnic and cameras in hand.
The moment we stepped onto the Ingleton Waterfalls trail we knew we were in for a treat. The trail, which was officially opened to the public in 1885, is 4.5 miles round and full of the most beautiful scenery, cascading waterfalls and magical woodland glens.
Almost immediately into the trail, we discovered a piece of fascinating history, a collection of trees decorated with coins, calling into question the old saying that ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’.
Fascinated by this phenomenon, I’ve done a bit of research into these unusual coin trees and discovered that they are known as ‘wishing trees’ and date back to the 1700s in Britain. Similar to that of tossing a coin in a wishing well or pond, it is believed that wishes will be granted to those who drive a coin into the bark of these trees. It was believed that if a sick person gave a coin to the tree, the tree would absorb their illness, making them well again. A wonderfully magical concept and, judging by the trees in Ingleton Waterfalls, one which was heavily trusted by visitors to the falls.
As we wandered further along the trail, the defined path wound us through a delightful glen, bathed in dappled sunlight, with handy steps where any climbing was needed. These wooden footpaths only added to the otherworldly element of the falls. Like something you might find in a fantasy movie about far off lands and mystical forests.
The magic continued when we came across the first cluster of waterfalls: First Pecca Falls and Pecca Twin Falls. We continued our incline passed Hollybush Spout before taking a break with an antipasti picnic!
Re-fueled, we continued on and found what looked to be the most popular picnic spot, at the stunning Thornton Force waterfall. This is where families and dog walkers had stopped for sandwiches and to take in a bit of the sun that was now at its midday best.
Next came the steeper part of our ascent up the trail. The next stage in our journey took us up a hillside, along a river, further up the hill and alongside open farmland.
By the time we reached the top, the lone ice cream van was like a mirage in the desert, only lucky for us it didn’t disappear when we got close! Needless to say the next leg of the trail was a bit of a blur while we enjoyed our deserved reward.
The decent from the trails seemed much quieter than the first half. My guess is that families with small children ventured to Thornton Force and then turned back – which would be plenty to appreciate the trail.
But if I’m honest, although my legs were getting tired and my head was pounding from the sun, the second half of the trail seemed much more magical. The waterfalls formed swirls in still pools and the shaded glens felt like a hidden world, a romantic distraction.
One of the things I loved most about Ingleton Waterfalls were the varied distinctive areas. It began in a dabbled-lit luscious glen, oozing history, out into rolling hills and pretty countryside landscapes, and then back into a magical woodland. Although long, the trail was absolutely worth it and has spurred me on to discover more of my local area.
On to the next one…