An afternoon out to High Force & Bowlees Picnic Area

If you haven’t been before then High Force is well worth a visit with an impressive 70ft drop into a plunge pool below, the waterfall is spectacular. It is also England’s highest uninterrupted drop of water.

I have been several times in the past but with the recent snow, I had heard it was looking even more ferocious. High Force is located at Forest-in-Teesdale on the River Tees, near Middleton-in-Teesdale, Teesdale. There is a charge to view High Force they are

Ticket Type Ticket Tariff
Adult £1.50 per ticket type
Child (under 16yrs ) £0.50 per ticket type

Car parking £3 per car. £2 per motorcycle.

  • Payment is via an Honesty Box if no attendant is present.


The car park is quite large and has toilets on site as well as picnic areas. The girls quickly spotted the sheep at the end of the car park and wanted to go say hello. So after a quick hello we headed out of the car park, you do have a road to cross where cars can be travelling at high speeds, so do make sure you take time to cross safely with young children. Once across it is a pleasant walk surrounded by woodland down to a lovely little stone bridge which goes across a little stream perfect for poo sticks.



Then as the path curves around the walls of limestone which tower above you (irresistible to explore for little legs), after hearing the muffled sound of the falls, you soon catch a glimpse of the powerful High Force.


There are plenty of seats along the route for you to stop and take in the surroundings. The walk isn’t long at all and I would say ideal for all ages. It doesn’t take long to get to the falls and once at the end of the path, there are steps that take you down to get closer to the plunge pool.

It is great to get down if you can, as you can then appreciate the size and power of the waterfall. We could feel the spray from the waterfall touching our skin. At the bottom, it is slippy as you can imagine and you really need eyes in the back of your head if you are taking children down. Thankfully my two are chalk and cheese one is very careful and a little frightful of falling and the other climbs on everything! That being said they do listen really well so I know they are ok when we visit somewhere like this. Many children were down there clambering on the rocks under the watchful eyes of parents. We spent some time exploring the rocks, reading the information board and taking in the waterfall before heading back up the stairs.

Once back to the car we have a short car journey to Bowlees picnic area, somewhere my girls were really excited about going! This place I find is much more value for money than High Force itself, they have car parking charges but that’s it and you can easily spend so much longer here, with all that is on offer for the children.

From the car park, you can head straight to the visitor’s centre which is located across the bridge and up a flight of stairs, they have toilets at the centre. As we have been before the children knew exactly where they wanted to go first. They have a fantastic little outdoor kitchen just over the bridge, complete with a range of cooking equipment such as pans and baking trays. This makes for some fantastic messy play! With a little walkway down to the river’s edge, the girls are in their element collecting the water needed to make cupcakes and soup. Right next to the kitchen is a picnic bench ideal for parents although be warned you may end up wet from all the kitchens creations. I love watching and listening to the girls imagination in this enviroment its a fantastic idea having the kitchen here.

 After lots of fun and laughter (possibly a little wet too) we head back over the bridge and along the walk towards Gibsons Cave, we have been to Gibsons Cave a few times so had made the decision we wouldn’t get right along today. Due to remembering how slippy it was last time and knew it was worse weather now.

As you walk along the path to the left there is a great little area for bird spotting, my youngest was thrilled to spot a rabbit when peering through!

A little further along you have the old quarry area to your right and the river flowing to your left, all a perfect area for children to explore. We especially love Buggingham palace. At the base of the steps to your left, you can see the beautiful the falls. We love this area as its perfect for a picnic and paddling in the river.

We spent a while here and ventured up the beautiful steps to the viewing platform at the top of the falls you can continue from here along to Gibsons Cave but we had decided to head back along to the car park via the little play area.

The stargazing net/ children’s play area is the perfect place to visit before heading home again. The girls had lots of fun climbing on the net and attempting a swing on the rope swing. If you have never visited High Force it’s certainly worth a visit but if you have been before and are looking for great value and somewhere to spend a few hours I would say get along to Bowless you won’t be disappointed and the kids definitely won’t! Just make sure you take some wellies and maybe a change of clothing for the children.

In the milder weather, we will be back and I will share with you all our experience of Gibsons Cave itself.

Have you visited? Which part was your favourite? Let me know in the comments. Also if you like my blog please click the follow button to get updates on new posts. I’m also on social media you can find all links on here to follow me.

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