I have a dream…it’s beautifully simple, yet wonderfully complex…
I want to inspire journeys through stunning images and make travel feel achievable for everyone.
Your Journey to Ashgill Falls, Cumbria, Northern England
Sometimes, you discover a place so peaceful that a few hours there leaves your mind relaxed, your soul refreshed and your body reinvigorated. Ashgill Falls is such a place. Crashing water on rocks, surrounded by the greenest ferns, trees and grasses has a powerful impact on all of the senses. As the sunlight pours through the foliage above, the slicing rays pierce and dapple the water below, creating stunning visuals that are constantly changing as the day draws on. Moving away from the falls and following the series of smaller falls along the river path, the tranquil glens create little havens for resting body and mind as the river trickles by and falls crash in the distance.
I spent a full day at Ashgill Falls, adjusting other travel plans to give in to my overwhelming desire for more time there. The steep sides and hidden cavernous trails provided plenty of opportunity for rock climbing and tougher exploration, which I enjoyed for hours before seeking out a glen and spending an hour simply sitting, before I sought out the smaller falls farther downstream by following the forest trails.
Quintessentially, a hidden gem. Why? In the full day that I was there (a sunny Friday in June), I saw not a single other human being. I trekked Yosemite national park, California, last year and Ashgill made me feel like I was back there….but alone, with the entire park to myself.
My Journey Rating: 10/10 – Must see.
Your Journey to Ashgill Force…
If my journey has inspired you to visit this amazing location, here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip.
Tripadvisor: Rates this Journey 5*
Time needed for trip: 1 day (even ½ a day for the falls if you’re pushed for time)
Location: Ashgill Force Waterfall CA93HB – Garrigill (nearest village) close to Alston, Cumbria, Northern England. (Map link)
By road: There is free parking all around on roadside slips and verges. Park considerately as there are agricultural vehicles that need space to pass, turn etc.
By bus: Nearest bus stop is Nenthead (3.6 miles from the falls) but these buses are infrequent and alter seasonally so the information below will get you to the next nearest bus station (Alston) which is bigger and has more frequent and permanent transport. Buses run from Newcastle Haymarket / Eldon Square (bus info), Durham Bus Station (bus info and Carlisle – The Courts (bus info) to Alston and local buses run between Alston and Garrigill but these are few and far between.
By train: Nearest train stations are Durham, Newcastle (both to the East) and Carlisle (to the West). I recommend the Trainline app meaning no tickets needed, everything on your device.
Accessibility: No accessibility for wheelchair users, pushchairs.
Facilities: None – no WCs, water points, visitors’ centre, shops. The nearest village is Garrigill, which does have a shop and a pub and Alston has a whole lot to offer too.
Family Friendly: While some trails are tough, entering the falls via West side trails (the opposite side of the river to the farm) you can find easier routes. Not suitable for pushchairs, but young children could manage the trails with help.
Activities: Walks and hikes – there’s a 3 mile walk from Garrigill and many more routes in this area as it is extremely popular with hikers.
Places to stay: As you probably know, the ethos behind Autumn Journeys is that I tackle the barriers to travel that so many of us face; as one of the major barriers to travel is money, I travel entirely for free (read more here). I stayed on at a friend’s for this trip. However, I know that many of you may need places to stay in this area and the below have good reviews and an Alston / Garrigill location which is excellent for exploring the falls and area as a whole. As I haven’t stayed in any of these places I can’t offer my experience, but these would be the places that I would choose to stay on this journey:
£: Haggs Bank Campsite – (£10pppn tent – facilities for motorhomes etc.)
££: Air BNB – The Old Chapel – (£42-£59 per night)
£££: Isaac’s Byre Eco Friendly Cottage – Green Tourism Award Holder (£350pw-£740pw depending on the season, short breaks also available).
££££: None that I can recommend.
£££££: None that I can recommend.
Please take care if booking accommodation in Alston as there are other towns called Alston in England. Ensure that you search for Alston in Cumbria.
Places to Eat: As with places to stay, my free travel mission means that I can’t buy food when I’m on the road – again, you can read more about my plan here. However, the below places have good reviews and are close to the Falls, so I’d give them a try…
The George and Dragon, Garrigill – CA93DS.
and you can find the Top 10 Eateries in Alston here.
Useful Books on the Area:
Nicola Gibbs – Lake District, Cumbria & Northumberland
Your Journey: If you take this journey please share your experience with me here and please feel free to tag me in your Instagram pictures – @autumnjourneys.
*Ashgill Falls is officially called Ashgill Force, although frequently referred to as ‘Falls.’ In this blog I chose to use ‘Falls’ as ‘Force’ is not as easily understood internationally.