Ashgill Force, near Garrigill
This small picnic site is outside Weardale but is such an exquisite gem it has to be included. The little amphitheatre, which buzzes with life in the spring, was carved out of the rocks over millions of years by the waterfall, one of the finest in the North Pennines with a 50 foot drop. Note the remains of a lead mine – the mine entrance (to Ashgill Horse Level), the bouseteems where the different mining teams stored their ore and the floor of the site where women and children crushed the ore with hammers to remove the galena (lead ore). Venture carefully behind the waterfall for a photo opportunity.
The spectacular waterfall can be reached by a scramble down a steep footpath from Ashgill Bridge on the B6277 about 4 miles from Alston or much better on foot with a 2 mile return walk from the pretty village of Garrigill. There is parking by the village green near the 17th C George and Dragon Pub and toilets at the village hall. Visit the village shop which is a wonderfully preserved relic . Turn left up the village street past the church. A diversion to the right after 400 yards to inspect the old Methodist Chapel and visit the nursery selling alpines etc is well worthwhile. Back on the road continue to the houses at Low Crossgill where you turn left on a track. Crossing Windshaw Bridge over the River South Tyne after 200 yards look down to see the sculpted rocks in the beautiful gorge below. Turn right to follow the river upstream and where Ash Gill blocks your path turn up left past a series of elegant lower falls to the picnic area below Ashgill Force under the high arched stone road bridge. Return by the same route or take the higher footpath which starts on the right two thirds of the way back to the River South Tyne and leads back to the village.