A great place to... visit waterfalls
Come with us as we visit waterfalls in Iceland, Scotland and the Yorkshire Dales.
A 90-minute drive from Reykjavik is one of Europe’s most spectacular waterfalls. As you approach, a veil of spray and deafening roar fill the air, confirming Gullfoss, alias the ‘Golden Waterfall’, is near.
The splendour of the River Hvítá – fed by Langjökull, Iceland’s second-biggest glacier – plummeting over this majestic two-tier fall into a narrow 200ft gorge never fails to impress.
It looks resplendent in all conditions, but especially when bathed in sunlight from Iceland’s clear, unpolluted skies, with a shimmering rainbow hanging over the falls.
While admiring this natural wonder, it’s hard to believe that developers once wanted to harness their powers for hydroelectricity, threatening its undoubted allure.
Gullfoss is one of three major attractions on the popular Golden Circle Tour, along with Geysir and Thingvellir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Geysir, just down the road from the waterfall, will entertain you by hurling boiling water up to 200ft into the air.
Meanwhile, Thingvellir lies in a rift valley and is where the first Icelandic Parliament, was formed in the year 930 – it’s now part of a national park.
Before leaving, head for the cafe and enjoy a bite to eat, such as traditional Icelandic meat and veg soup.
Many visitors stay in Reykjavik, but the small town of Selfoss, 45 miles south-west, is closer and occupies an attractive setting on the banks of the Ölfusá river.
Aysgarth Falls – Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales
Nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, you’ll discover one of England’s finest waterfalls. The River Ure tumbles over a series of limestone steps and, while it’s not the highest waterfall, it’s among the region’s best beauty spots, admired by such luminaries as the poet William Wordsworth and painter John Ruskin.
It featured in the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and looks impressive after heavy rain when thousands of gallons of water cascade over the falls.
Enjoy a pleasant walk through woodland, linking the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. The path is wide with plenty of viewing points. Keep your eyes peeled for squirrels and deer.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, try the village of Aysgarth, under a mile away.
The best way to reach Aysgarth Falls, 40 miles from the M6, is by road. Car parking at the Falls costs £2.50 for two hours. For further information, call 01969 662 910, or visit yorkshiredales.org.uk
Steall Falls – Glen Nevis, Scotland
With a single drop of 394ft, Steall Falls is Britain’s second highest. This sublime waterfall is reached from several car parks near the entrance to Glen Nevis, including Braveheart Car Park, which earned its name after the film crew making Mel Gibson’s 1995 rabble-rouser parked their vehicles here.
If you’re feeling energetic, it’s a seven-mile walk to the waterfall. For a shorter walk, drive to the large car park at the end of the glen – it’s just under two miles from the falls.
To reach the waterfall, walking attire is recommended because the terrain is rocky. But the effort is rewarded when the falls come into view. Backed by high mountains, water plunges to the ground and will have you reaching for your camera.
The walk is relatively easy, so take time to explore the area. Below the waterfall is an impressive gorge. Perhaps you’ll summon up the courage to cross the river via the wire bridge.
Plenty of accommodation can be found in nearby Fort William.
For further information, call the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre on 01397 705 922, or go to visitscotland.com