In northeast England, the term “force” is often used to indicate a waterfall. High Force and Low Force are two cascades not to be missed in the North Pennines, situated just about 1.5 miles apart from one another on the Upper Tees in County Durham.
The upstream waterfall, High Force, is visited mainly for its impressive beauty, and the enormous force of its 70-foot plunge. Meanwhile its downstream counterpart, while smaller, is the site of some very exciting kayaking. Both falls are geologically caused by the dolerite inclusions in the riverbed, which provide a hard resistance to erosion.
At Low Force, you can cross the river by the Wynch Bridge, an interesting suspension footbridge, then follow the river upstream via the Pennine Way footpath to High Force. On the way, don’t miss the interesting sheep sculptures standing on top of a dry stone wall.
Wynch Bridge is a great place to get a view of Low Force. It is a chain suspension bridge across the river Tees. The first bridge was built in 1741, possibly the first chain bridge in England (and sometime claimed to be the first in Europe). It was built by public subscription to allow lead miners from to reach the mines at Middleton-in-Teesdale.
The original bridge wooden but was supported by iron chains. It was 70 feet long and crossed a 60 feet deep chasm. It was only two feet wide and had only one handrail. It is said that the bridge swayed considerably when used.
In 1802, a chain snapped, and the bridge collapsed under the weight of nine miners. Two men fell into the Tees below and one was drowned. Despite repairs the bridge was considered unsafe so in 1830 a new Wynch Bridge was built on the orders of the Duke of Cleveland. This is the current bridge, which is built of wrought iron hangers with a timber deck. The authorities recommend that only one person at a time uses the bridge.
Know Before You Go
The above map coordinates point to the High Force waterfall. You can also park for free at Low Force and there is no admission fee. If you use the tourist car park and the footpath from the nearest road (right bank) for High Force you will pay about £3 to park and £1.50 entry. However, you can get a good view of the falls on the left bank for free.