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I’m from the UK, a place famous for its mountains, rivers, lakes, seasides, and cities. But we also have lots of waterfalls—so in this guide, I’ve brought you the top 10 highest waterfalls in the UK.
An important note, before we get started: you’d think what’s higher or not higher would be a pretty objective thing, but that’s somehow not the case when it comes to the highly contentious topic of waterfalls. Different people have different opinions on what the UK’s highest waterfalls actually are, according to whether you measure a series of falls as one fall, or as multiple falls.
So I’ve waded through all the controversy and tried my very hand-on-heart-best to bring you the most accurate list I can. I haven’t gone out with a yardstick and a scuba mask, but I’ve done the next best thing: loads and loads of research.
I’ve chosen the top 10 waterfalls in the UK that have the highest single drops (rather than a collection of drops that are actually just a series of several waterfalls). Hope that makes sense.
Anyway, on we go!
1. Eas A’ Chual Aluinn
Tallest single drop: 200 meters/656 feet
Where you’ll find it: Assynt, northwest Scotland
This strangely-named waterfall is the highest in the whole of the UK. Its Gaelic name sort-of translates into English as “waterfall of the beautiful tresses” (tresses meaning locks of hair).
If you want to reach the place, you have two options. Firstly, you can either take the 6-mile (10km) round-trip hike from a remote but relatively nearby car park. It’s an absolutely beautiful hike past peaks, lochs and endless wilderness—the waterfall isn’t even the best part.
Your second option, if you can’t be bothered to walk, is by taking a boat trip from the Kylesku Hotel to Loch Beag. These boat trips are absolutely beautiful, and they’re really popular with families (because little kids don’t like long walks).
Fun fact: they might not be as famous or vast, but these falls are more than three times higher than Niagara Falls.
2. Steall Waterfall
Tallest single drop: 120 meters/394 feet
Where you’ll find it: Western Scotland, close to Fort William
Also in Scotland, Steall Waterfall is a little easier to access than Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, but you still need to hike to get there.
To reach the falls, you need to park up at Upper Glen Nevis car park (which is lovely in itself, surrounded by loads of mountains), then tackle a 2-mile (3.5km) wander through woods, past peaks, and over a famous rope bridge.
Because the waterfall lurches over loads of rocks, it splits into lots of tiny cascading streams, making it a popular place for photographers. It’s also a good picnic spot, so take some sandwiches (and friends).
You can’t swim in the falls, but you can paddle in and around the river, where you cross via the wire bridge.
Fun fact: this place was used in the Harry Potter movies, twice. The first time, it was in the background of some Quidditch game. The second time, it’s where “Harry takes on the Hungarian Horntail dragon in the Goblet of Fire” (whatever that means).
3. Falls of Glomach
Tallest single drop: 113 meters/371 feet
Where you’ll find it: Western Scotland, close to the bridge that takes you to the Isle of Skye
The Falls of Glomach is one of the most remote entries on our list. To find the place, you have to hike an 11-mile (17.5km) round-trip from a car park close to Morvich. Honestly, I love hiking, but I probably wouldn’t bother walking all that way just to see a waterfall.
Some people reckon this set of falls is the best in the UK. I haven’t been, so I don’t have an opinion.
Again, you can’t swim in them, but you can come very close. And despite my cynicism, the hike to the waterfall is meant to be really lovely.
4. Devil’s Appendix
Tallest single drop: 93 meters/305 feet
Where you’ll find it: Northern Wales, in the northern part of Snowdonia National Park
The first UK waterfall we’ve featured outside of Scotland, this one sounds like something a witch might put in a cauldron rather than a real-life waterfall.
The closest point for reaching the Devil’s Appendix is the car park at strangely-named Pont Pen-y-Benglog. From here, there’s a popular and beautiful 2.5-mile (4.5km) round-trip walk. You see Llyn Idwal lake, walk up a gorge, follow a river, get great panoramas of lots of distant mountains, and even wander past another waterfall, the Devil’s Kitchen. Walks this easy aren’t normally this beautiful.
If you want to add another waterfall to your walk, Rhaeadr Ogwen is a short wander north of the same car park.
Because the Devil’s Appendix is a plunge-style waterfall dropping into a massive lake, it’s a popular place for a swim.
If you can, come here after heavy rain. Under those conditions, the place is massively impressive. If it hasn’t been raining, it’s nowhere near as good.
Fun fact: in winter, people come to the Devil’s Appendix for ice climbing.
5. Pistyll Y Llyn
Tallest single drop: 91 meters/299 feet
Where you’ll find it: The western part of central Wales, just below the bottom part of Snowdonia National Park
Our second Welsh waterfall, Pistyll y Llyn is pretty hard to access.
The most convenient way to reach the place (I use the term ‘convenient’ loosely) is by parking up in the car park in Machynlleth before tackling a 13-mile (21km) round-trip walk to the falls.
There are lots of tiny single-track roads that take you relatively closer to the waterfall, but I don’t know this area of the UK very well, so I don’t know if there are any places to park. Google seems to think so, but I don’t know for sure. According to some stuff I found online, there’s a tiny car park somewhere in Glaspwll, which is a closer access point than Machynlleth.
Because Pistyll y Llyn runs down the face of a gently-sloping mountain, it’s not the most spectacular place to visit—if you go to the waterfall, the hike is actually better than the waterfall itself.
Fun fact: in Welsh, ‘pistyll’ means ‘waterfall’. Obviously.
6. Cautley Spout
Tallest single drop: 76 meters/249 feet
Where you’ll find it: The northwestern part of Yorkshire Dales National Park, east of Kendal
Our first English entry, Cautley Spout is a series of trickles running down the side of a not-steep mountain. So it isn’t vast or imposing in the way that some other waterfalls are.
But it’s not all bad news: there are lots of mini pools at the bottom of the falls, so it’s a nice place for a swim.
There are lots of ways to reach Cautley Spout. The most popular is by walking from Sedbergh, the closest town to the falls—but the easiest and shortest route is from the Cross Keys Inn, a lovely pub.
Getting to the bottom of the falls is relatively easy, but clambering up to the top can be tricky on the muddy paths.
Fun fact: below the falls, researchers have discovered an ancient Iron Age settlement with a ‘street’ leading toward the bottom of the falls. These researchers reckon the water might have been used in some sort of ritual or tradition.
7. Pistyll Rhaeadr
Tallest single drop: 73 meters/240 feet
Where you’ll find it: Northern Wales, just east of Snowdonia National Park
Another Welsh waterfall, another pistyll.
Of all the waterfalls we’ve featured, this is one of the best for a family day out. There’s a car park right beside it, it’s a relatively short drive from lots of popular places, and there’s a tearoom and accommodation right beside the falls. Weirdly, the place even has its own little website.
The falls are pretty big and dramatic, you can get right beside them, there’s an accessible 20-minute trail that takes you right to the top, and there’s a plunge pool at the bottom where you can swim. And on top of all that, there are lots of great hikes you can start right from the foot of the falls.
The only bad part is the constant crowds. This place is often so busy that you can’t even enjoy it—so if you don’t like to be surrounded by people, visit in colder months, and definitely not during weekends.
8. Canonteign Falls
Tallest single drop: 70 meters/230 feet
Where you’ll find it: Southwest England, just inside Dartmoor National Park
Our second English waterfall, this is the only one you’ll find in the south of England.
These falls are really easy to access, so they’re a good option for a simple day trip, or if you’re traveling with kids. There’s a massive amount of information on all the stuff you can enjoy on the official website, but a few highlights include 7 lakes, ancient forests, trampolines, a zipwire, a mini assault course, a Victorian Fern Garden, viewpoints, a bee garden, 90 acres of land, a cute cafe, and plenty more.
The climb from the bottom of the waterfall right to the top is pretty steep, but it only takes around 30 minutes, so even kids can tackle it.
The place is actually an estate rather than just a waterfall in the middle of nowhere (like most of the places we’ve featured), so you need to pay to get in. Paying to see nature is stupid, but it’s worth the money if you make a full day of the area.
Top tip: Canonteign Falls are only open during certain times of the year, so make sure you check the official website before you visit.
9. Falls of Foyers
Tallest single drop: 62 meters/203 feet
Where you’ll find it: Scotland, along the southern shores of the central part of Loch Ness
The Falls of Foyers are one of the most underrated sites along Loch Ness.
When they’re exploring the loch, everyone goes to Inverness, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, and that museum with the daft Nessie exhibition.
And those places are great. But not enough people visit the Falls of Foyers. That’s partially because they’re on the southern shore of the loch (which is way less explored than the better-known northern shore).
Anyway, these are much easier to access than most other waterfalls on this list. To get to the Falls of Foyers, park up in the car park on the B852 road and follow the clear trail up to two great viewpoints. The round-trip walk takes around 30 minutes at the most. If you want to walk further (I reckon you should), tackle this slightly longer 2-hour route instead.
The falls are pretty intense and wide, and there’s a massive plunge pool at the bottom.
Fun fact: The falls drop into the River Foyers, which then flows into Loch Ness.
10. Cauldron Snout
Tallest single drop: 60 meters/197 feet
Where you’ll find it: the North Pennines, south of Alston and east of Penrith
This is a bit of a strange one. Cauldron Snout looks more like a river, because it falls gradually, rather than tumbling down a sheer fall like most waterfalls do.
From top to bottom, it measures in at 60 meters, but it’s actually much lengthier, clocking in at 180 meters (that’s 591 feet). So it’s not the tallest waterfall in England, but it is the longest. Cauldron Snout is sort of reminiscent of the Fairy Pools in Skye (but only sort of).
Anyway, the nearest car park is at Cow Green Reservoir. From here, you walk along the shores of the reservoir, then follow the waterfall to its top. The entire walk measures in at around 3.6 miles (5.9km).
The most impressive section of the falls is a wide part that tumbles over lots of rocks, forming a mini pool before then rolling further downstream.
Table of the Highest Waterfalls in the UK
|1||Eas a’ Chual Aluinn||200 meters / 656 feet||Northwest Scotland|
|2||Steall Waterfall||120 meters / 394 feet||Western Scotland|
|3||Falls of Glomach||113 meters / 371 feet||Western Scotland|
|4||Devil’s Appendix||93 meters / 305 feet||Northern Wales|
|5||Pistyll y Llyn||91 meters / 299 feet||Central Wales|
|6||Cautley Spout||76 meters / 249 feet||Northern England|
|7||Pistyll Rhaeadr||73 meters / 240 feet||Northern Wales|
|8||Canonteign Falls||70 meters / 230 feet||Southwest England|
|9||Falls of Foyers||62 meters / 203 feet||Northern Scotland|
|10||Cauldron Snout||60 meters / 197 feet||Northern England|
Final Words and Further Reading
There you are — the 10 highest waterfalls in the United Kingdom (well, if you measure them the same way I decided to). Thanks for reading!
If you’re interested in geeky factoid articles like this one, you might also like our guides on the highest mountains in the UK, and the longest rivers in the UK. Or if you want to know more about outdoor adventures in the UK, have a look at our guides to the Hadrian’s Wall Walk, and the best hikes in Scotland.
Whatever you want to know about the UK’s outdoor adventures, we’ve covered it. See you next time!
Paul is a handsome and hilarious travel writer and travel journalist from the UK. He’s hiked, hitchhiked and laughed his way through more than fifty countries, and he’s always looking for a new place to call home. Originally from Newcastle, he’s lived all over the UK, spent more than three years in Asia, and most recently lived in Vietnam. Here’s his website.