Hardraw Force pleasure grounds

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Historical Environment Record No:
High Abbotside
OS Grid Reference:


Hardraw Force pleasure grounds MYD26485 (c) YDNPA, 2023

Hardraw Force pleasure grounds MYD26485 (c) YDNPA, 2023

The waterfall at Hardraw is one of the most famous in the Dales due to its status as the highest single fall waterfall in England. The waterfall has been a visitor attraction since the 18th century and was visited amongst others by both Turner and Wordsworth. The steep sided gorge leading up to it has been extensively landscaped over the years. The majority of the surviving bridges, paths and stairways along with folly-type buildings and the bandstand probably date to the period of renovation work ordered by the owner of the site, Lord Wharton, following a destructive flood in the summer of 1899. Lord Wharton even had the lip of the waterfall reinforced with iron pins so that the height of the fall should not be diminished. It is likely that the restored late Victorian landscape replaced a similar earlier one in the Victorian Gothic Romantic style. The site is still a popular tourist destination, helped by its use in the Hollywood film, ‘Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves’ and also by the annual brass band competition which takes advantage of the superb acoustics of the gorge. Restoration of the bridges, paths and other landscape features is now [2004] underway after a long period of neglect.


Hartley, Marie & Pontefract, Ella (1988) Wensleydale. Otley: Smith Settle


Access through Green Dragon pub in centre of Hardraw (charge). Open daily.

Public Transport Details

Nearest town/village: Hawes or Hardraw. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.


Fairly level, well-made path to waterfall though slippery when wet. Rougher paths and steps to view pleasure grounds.