Waterfall, Cow Close Gill

Wharfedale Waterfalls

Walk Summary

A waterfall filled exploration of Buckden Gill, Cow Close Gill, Cray Gill and Crook Gill with a visit to the summit of Buckden Pike thrown in for good measure.

Distance: 6.0 miles
Total ascent: 2000ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Car park, Buckden
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

After the exceptionally hot and dry start to the summer it has been something of a relief that in more recent weeks it has been cooler and wetter. An added bonus of the recent rain is that our waterfalls are coming back to life. With a weekend forecast of low cloud and patchy rain I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go waterfall hunting.

This walk combines two walks I’ve previously done from Buckden. The first is the superb direct approach to Buckden Pike via Buckden Gill and the second a return to some fantastic waterfalls in Cow Close Gill and Cray Gill that I’d first come across a few years ago. In addition I also wanted to explore the upper reaches of Cow Close Gill and see if I could find any waterfalls in Crook Gill.

“Fifty metres along here I came to a magical little spot with a beautiful waterfall dropping into a deep pool in its own wooded amphitheatre.”

Starting from the car park in Buckden I immediately took the permissive path into Buckden Gill. The following mile or so of walking and scrambling is sheer joy. There are at least 7 or 8 decent waterfalls as well as a number of smaller cascades. Three of the waterfalls are at least twenty feet high and each has its own character. It is worth noting that a couple of fairly easy scrambles are required to pass the first two of the higher waterfalls. Keep an eye out for the path doubling back on both occasions.

After this initial glut of waterfalls I arrived at the remains of Buckden Lead Mine. I always find it quite interesting pottering about the remains of old mines. On this occasion I spent a while trying to photograph the ferns and mosses on the inside of a level. As I set off from the mine I was surprised to see a large group of 20 odd people descending in the opposite direction.

I’d not climbed much further up from the mines when the hillside was enveloped by low cloud. I’d been expecting this and so was not too disappointed not to have a view from the summit of Buckden Pike. Besides I’ve been there plenty of times before so I’m familiar with what the view looks like in good conditions.

After taking shelter on the leeward side of the summit wall to eat my lunch (it was quite windy up there) I set off north. The path soon swung around to the north-east to begin descending more steeply. Soon I was once again below the cloud and I could see ahead of me the point where I was going to leave the path to make a beeline for the top of Cow Close Gill.

Initially I was disappointed to find that the upper reaches of the gill were completely dry. I needn’t have worried though. After passing through a handily placed gate in a wall I came across a few modest falls. Then, next to where the ancient settlement is marked on the map, I found a splendid rocky fall of about 15ft high. Carrying on down I then came to the main falls on Cow Close Gill, a magnificently tiered waterfall which is one of my favourite waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales.

From the foot of Cow Close Gill I joined the nearby bridleway leading to Cray High Bridge. The waterfall just upstream of the bridge only had a bit of water coming down it, this one tends to require a lot of rain to be seen at its best. From Cray High Bridge I set off down the road towards Cray. Care does need to be taken on this section of road as some bends mean that pedestrians are not always in sight of traffic.

Upon reaching Cray I took the path leading around the back of the White Lion. I soon left this for a thinner path descending through a scruffy pasture which was home to some Belted Galloways. Back down near the stream I could hear and see some tantalising glimpses of some more waterfalls in Cray Gill. Unfortunately, even for one not averse to the odd dodgy descent such as me, it was not possible to get a proper sight of these falls due to the sheer drop down to the stream bed.

Ample compensation for not getting a proper sight of these falls was soon had when I came across a thin path heading up Crook Gill. Fifty metres along here I came to a magical little spot with a beautiful waterfall dropping into a deep pool in its own wooded amphitheatre. After drinking in my fill of this lovely spot I returned to the main path to continue towards Stubbing Bridge, passing along the way two more smaller waterfalls on Cray Gill.

Having arrived at Stubbing Bridge I turned right for a pleasant walk to Hubberholme along Stubbing Lane. Crossing over Hubberholme Bridge I then turned left to walk along Dubb’s Lane. Finally I took a path on the left to cross a field and then follow the River Wharfe back to Buckden and the conclusion of a superb day out.

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