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Any visit to Askrigg must include a visit to the waterfalls that tumble through the bluebell cloaked woodlands to the west of the village.
In addition to the two large falls – Whitfield Gill Force and Mill Gill Force – there are several unnamed cascades to appreciate as well.
The two larger falls are about a mile apart and differ considerably. Mill Gill Force is a spectacular cataract, falling about 70 feet over a succession of ledges. This attraction and the sylvan setting captivated the attentions of the Lakeland poet William Wordsworth.
Whitfield Gill Force falls 50 feet without interruption amid what is thought to be the highest native woodland in Yorkshire. To visit the latter an uneven, slippery diversion has to be made. Please note the waterfall is obscured when the trees are in full leaf.
Leave Lodge Yard, turning left along the main street and left at the road junction towards Muker. Follow the road uphill, ignoring a public footpath sign on right, turn right just before reaching Hargill House. Pass between the cottages and locate a gate on the left.
A path leads diagonally uphill (wonderful views unfurling), crossing a succession of stiles en-route to the small hamlet of Newbiggin, which soon comes into view. Enter Newbiggin passing the small green, following the direction of the footpath sign affixed to the barn.
Pass a cottage named Willow Garth, and through the gate beyond. Proceed half left across the field towards a marker post, then continue close to the wall on the left, making towards the large copse directly ahead. This is reached after keeping left of a big barn and passing through a gate near gorse bushes.
An obvious path leads through the copse, then continues diagonally across two fields to a stile and an enclosed lane. Turn left, at once glorious views of Wensleydale are presented, with the Roman Road creeping over Wether Fell straight as an arrow, clearly visible across the valley.
Follow the lane to its conclusion, walking beneath the spectacular limestone outcrops of Ellerkin Scar. At the road swing left towards Askrigg, noting a large cluster of yellow coloured coltsfoot on the left as the road descends steeply.An uneven lane on the right (High Straights Lane). Turn left at a road junction (two barns confirm the location) then after 50 yards turn right into Low Straights Lane signposted Whitfield Gill. Cross a ford, then walk the length of the lane as it rises steadily towards a copse. At that point swing left, following the signpost to Helm and Mill Gill.
A wondrous woodland section bedecked in season with violet, primrose and bluebell awaits with glimpses of Whitfield Gill Force available in winter and early spring. Follow the footpath downward to a footbridge then ascend the opposing bank. Although once accessible the National Parcs have not kept the footpath to Whitfield Gill Force open so we do not recommend it safe to go there.
The walk route continues (left) towards a wooden stile. After this descend, cross a tiny stream (sometimes dry) with stepping stones then veer left towards a signpost to Mill Gill. Cross another stile and tread a stony path alongside a wall for 50 yards. Take the opening in the wall and turn right, then immediately prior to arriving at a footbridge swing right, through a narrow stile. DO NOT CROSS THE FOOTBRIDGE. A clear path to the left (with the roaring water over the wall) then enters a woodland where the short detour to visit Mill Gill Force is soon presented and shouldn’t be resisted.
The walk continues Askrigg bound, among a bluebell wonderland, after crossing the limestone bedrock of Mill Gill at a footbridge and passing beneath the aqueduct associated with the redundant mill.