The United Kingdom is renowned for its geological diversity and, when it comes to waterfalls, it doesn’t disappoint. From England and Northern Ireland to Scotland and Wales, the waterfalls of the United Kingdom are omnifarious and spectacular.
There are dramatic cascades, waterfall walks, Instagram-worthy downpours and secret saults. So, where can one find these UK waterfalls? What are the highest waterfalls in Britain? Going country by country, we’re chasing the best known waterfalls and some hidden gems.
Just a quick note before we do so: waterfall measurements vary and thus there might be conflicts about the identity of the highest waterfall in the UK or indeed any country within it.
Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, Scottish Highlands
For the highest of all waterfalls of the United Kingdom, head to Scotland’s highlands, home of Eas a’ Chual Aluinn. Roughly translated as ‘waterfall of the beautiful tresses’, it’s a tricky trek to reach, but success means viewing this majestic 660 foot plunging flume in full flow.
Falls of Clyde, New Lanark
Badgers and kingfishers are just some of nature’s frequent flyers at Scotland’s Falls of Clyde. There are three main waterfalls, all within a well-maintained wildlife reserve, which includes a visitors centre.
Steall Falls, Scottish Highlands
Harry Potter fans will love visiting Steall Falls, not just because of its undeniable beauty, but for the chance to visit one of the franchise’s filming locations. And, hard as it is to believe, this 390 foot waterfall is just one of many beautiful sights in its location of Glen Nevis.
Waterfall Country, Powys
The name says it all really. This corner of the Valley of Neath is chock-full of falls from the rivers Nedd Fechan, Hepste and Melte. Whilst there is no official designation of Waterfalls County as a specific area, it’s contained with the Brecon Beacons National Park. Unfortunately, an excess of visitors in recent years has resulted in concerns about erosion of the area.
Pistyll Rhaeadr, Berwyn Mountains
One of the tallest UK waterfalls is found in the Berwyn Mountains of Wales. The truly breathtaking Pistyll Rhaeadr sees the waters of the Afon Disgynfa river descend 240 feet surrounded by lush greenery.
As far as names go, this one very much delivers on its promise. Water-Break-Its-Neck waterfall plummets over a sheer cliff into a deep pool below. The waterfall is easily accessible, and the surrounding area is perfect for picnicking and wildlife watching.
Glenariff, County Antrim
Glenariff is one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful waterfalls, located in the heart of the stunning Glenariff Forest Park. The park is home to a variety of different species of plants and animals, making it a haven for nature lovers. The waterfall itself is made up of three different tiers, each with its own unique beauty.
The first tier is the shallowest of the three, but it’s also the most picturesque. The second tier is deeper and more powerful, while the third is the tallest and most impressive. No matter which tier you choose to visit, you are sure to be mesmerised by the natural beauty of Glenariff waterfall.
High Force, County Durham
One thing worth noting about UK waterfalls is that they bear some spectacular names. Not that this should come as a surprise. This is the nation that brought the world Boaty McBoatface after all. Nevertheless, the name High Force is an especially evocative one for a contender to be the highest waterfall in England. Nearly 70 feet high, this impressive, rushing waterfall is located in the Durham Dales in the Northern Pennines, and even has a corresponding Low Force waterfall nearby.
Aria Force, Lake District
Near Ullswater in England’s Lake District is the ethereal cascade of Aria Force. To find this fairytale feature, follow one of the National Trust trails.
Gaping Gill, Yorkshire
Within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a stream called Fell Beck pours into one of England’s largest cave chambers. The result is one of the highest unbroken waterfalls in Britain. Twice a year, visitors can be winched into this underground wonder by the local potholing clubs of Bradford and Craven.
The Most Famous Waterfalls in the UK
It’s been a rewarding trip outside the rivers and the lakes that we’re used to, and an illuminating insight into the waterfalls of the United Kingdom. From the highest waterfall in the UK to ones that are hidden underground, UK and British waterfalls are the embodiment of the power and beauty of nature.