High Force What?

When a friend told me we should check out High Force I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Just the words brought pictures of skydiving and military training to mind. Do we seem like people who want to jump out of planes? Or play at bootcamp? Or shoot anything?

I assure you, we are not any of those things.

Peaceful hiking is more our style. A nice walk to a beautiful scenic spot is just our speed. Give us some food at the end of the day and we’re even happier.

So you can guess how we felt when I found out that High Force is a waterfall in County Durham, only about an hour from where we’re staying. Not just any waterfall, but England’s 4th largest.

We had a beautiful drive through the English countryside to get there. The heather, the neatly divided farmer’s fields, the sheep and the cloudy skies gave us plenty to look at.

There are more sheep than people out there.


At the entrance to the trail is this little hut with an honesty box where you can pay your £1.50 fee. My Girl, who is here visiting from Texas for a month, had never seen, nor heard of, an honesty box before. She was charmed right down to her shoes at the idea. (Note to self, take that girl out in the country more often! She’ll love the little honey and vegetable stands on the side of the road with their adorable little honesty boxes.)

No swimming? In January? No problem.


The walk to the falls is only about 1/3 of a mile, and nearly flat, which makes it easy for nearly anyone to visit. Perfect for our group as one friend was recovering from a nasty chest infection, and Brian was fighting off the man-flu.


The winter woods were quiet. We could only hear the trickle of the stream, and the distant rumble of the falls which got louder as we walked.


And there it was.

She let me play with her hair. It’s been years!

High Force Waterfall


It hadn’t rained much during the days before our hike, so the water was fairly low. There are days when you can’t go down to this spot below the path because it’s all raging river.


But we had plenty of room to roam. Summer (the dog) was thrilled! Well, all of us were well impressed even if it was a little bit chilly. It was still a wonderful day to spend hiking with friends!


There have been a few accidents at the falls, so the upper trail has been closed. I can see how icy conditions would make it really dangerous to go up there.


We went up anyway. No ice, and a well cleared trail meant we got to go up to the top of the falls where we got this gorgeous view.


That walking path on the other side of the river is the Teesdale walk. Now I want to load up my backpacking gear and walk the length of it.


After finishing with our oohs and aahs and walking back to the car, we followed our friends down a few forgotten roads and arrived here:


Remember what I said about making us happy? Yes, there was food at the end of the day, and not just any food. Old style country pub food served at the Strathmore Arms. I can’t find any information about the history of this place on the internet, besides one photo taken about a hundred years ago in which it already looks like it’s a couple of centuries old.

UPDATE: Edited to add that the pub was built in 1763, and is in the village of Holwick which has been a recorded town as far back as 1235. Thanks, Bruce, for calling them to find out!


It was the perfect cozy place to end a really nice day of outdoor beauty with friends. Sitting in the pub, chatting over dinner near a cozy fire with people we really like ranks right up there on the top of our favorite things to do, no matter what country we’re in.

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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2 Responses to High Force What?

  1. Nancy B January 11, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    I’m surprised about the “Honesty Box” being new to Salem. I get my mandarin/satsuma oranges every year at a little home orchard just about 2 miles from mom’s house each year. I’ve never seen the owner, just follow the signs from the road when they come in season and leave the money in a box on the table by the garage. We also have self pay boxes at many of the state parks when the parking sheds aren’t manned. You put the license number of your car on the envelope and drop it in the slot of a locked box in the parking lot. (maybe having to put it in a LOCKED box negates the “honesty” part of it? hahahaha) I’m glad she’s having such a good time! What beautiful places to be able to see! I love seeing them through you eyes. (camera??)

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      January 11, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      I’m surprised too! You’ll have to make sure to take her to some of those orchards and parks when she’s visiting you. She’ll love it!
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