The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are home to the sources of many of Yorkshire's major rivers and provide a habitat for many plants and animals as well as helping to form some spectacular features such as waterfalls. The rivers in the Yorkshire Dales our route passes near include the Wharfe, the Ure and the Swale and they are protected by the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and in the North York Moors the River Esk flows into the sea at Whitby and the River Rye starts near Osmotherly, past Helsmley and Kirbymoorside and eventually joins the River Ouse. In the Dales many of the rivers have been so altered by flood defences that they provide little habitat, although restoration projects such as the Upper Wharf Restoration Project. Similarly in the North York Moors a new project Ryevitalise, which will help to restore some of the tranquil habitats of the River Rye, which in the past attracted monks to Rievaulx Abbey. 

The River Esk has a catchment that lies almost entirely in the North York Moors. It is a great place to visit for salmon or trout fans, and is also a great spot for those wishing to see dippers, kingfishers, otters and water voles. It is also the only river in Yorkshire which is home to the endangered freshwater pearl mussel. 

River ESk

North York Moors (section D)

In the northern North York Moors there are several stunning waterfalls to visit. They are a little way of the route, but well worth the visit. Falling Foss in Little Beck Wood, which is a bout 3 miles south of the route from Sleights. The other three waterfalls can be done in one walking route starting from Goathland. Goathland is a 4 mile walk south from Grosmont, or alternatively you can get the train. You may even recognise Goathland train station as it stars as Hogsmeade Train Station in the Harry Potter films. 

Falling Foss, Thomason Foss, Blow Gill and Nelly Ayre Foss

Little Beck (section D)

The name Swale comes from the old Anglo-Saxon and means 'rapid and liable to deluge', an apt name for what is believed to be one of the fastest flowing river in England.  At Richmond castle the river flows underground after going over some impressive waterfalls.

The Swale

Northern Yorkshire Dales (section G/H)

The waterfalls at Aysgarth on the River Ure are a popular tourist spot. In fact there are actually three waterfalls, and they have been popular with tourists for many years. These stunning falls have been a source of inspiration and attraction for Turner, Wordsworth and more recently the Hollywood film Robin Hood: Prince of Theives. If you want to see the falls at their most dramatic it is best to arrive after heavy rain. 

Aysgarth Falls

Aysgarth (section I)

One of the most loved rivers in the Dales, the River Wharfe flows from Buckden onto Bolton Abbey. One particularly stunning part of its journey through the Dales is The Strid near Bolton Abbey where the River is forced into a narrow gap and, because of the rock, the water turns sideways - it is thought to be one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world!  

River Wharfe

Wharfdale (section K)

About 3 miles west of Settle, Stainforth Foss, on the River Ribble, is another magnificent waterfall of the Yorkshire Dales. It is particularly popular in October and November when, after rain, salmon can be seen leaping up the cascades to their spawning grounds. Even if you miss the salmon, the falls themselves over the limestone outcrops and the spectacular moorland views still make the trip worthwhile. 

Stainforth Foss

Stainforth (section L)

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