How to get down to Falling Foss Waterfall, in North Yorkshire? Well, that’s a question! One that takes a rather long answer. It’s something I tried to look up on google before we left home for the day. I couldn’t find anything about getting right down to the bottom of the fall. Maybe they just don’t want people to know because it’s a bit well perilous. OK, I’m being a tad dramatic but don’t be fooled into thinking it will be easy.
Visiting Falling Foss Waterfall
Falling Foss is a 30-foot waterfall around 6 miles south of Whitby in North Yorkshire. You can either visit by parking at May Beck and walking a circular walk or you can park at Falling Foss car park. There is a relatively large car park which is free to park in.
May Beck car park is smaller but can be a quieter option, this is also free. It is worth noting it’s a 1.5-hour circular walk from May Beck but worth doing. Please see my full review of the circular walk – May Beck to Falling Foss Family Friendly Circular Walk
How to get down to the bottom of the Falling Foss Waterfall
The walk we took didn’t even mention how to get down to the waterfall. You can see the waterfall from the top next to the Falling Foss Tea Garden. This is a lovely place to stop and have some lunch. You can find out more in my review – The Magical Falling Foss Tea Garden, Near Whitby
This is the view and pretty much the only view from the top.
There are now basically two options to get down to the bottom.
#1 The really steep one
We had seen before we left home that you could get down to the waterfall via a very steep slope and a bit of rope someone has tied to some trees.
After walking a little way along the path away from the tea garden but keeping the fall on your left you will come to a rough dirt path down. At this point it is the only and the first path down you come to so you can’t miss it.
It’s hard to see what lies ahead down this path but beware as it’s a very steep hill and it is mostly sticky and slippy mud. We didn’t see any families venturing up or down it unless they had older children. I don’t think I could have attempted it with my six year old but I know others have managed it (but mostly regretted it).
If you don’t want to attempt the steep hill down (or up) then please keep reading for the other way down.
We started walking down this as I didn’t know there was another way down. We were then stopped by another family shouting to us to not even attempt that way. They had been given a slip of paper from the tea garden with instructions on an easier way down. They had apparently just done it and made it sound super easy. Which I guess as an adult it might seem easier as adult legs can step further and safer than smaller legs.
It’s a shame there isn’t a rope or steps all the way down here. If there had have been we’d have been OK. When we viewed the slope later on from the bottom we noticed that a huge section of it was full of skid marks from people sliding supposedly down the hill as the rope had run out.
Once at the bottom of here you now need to read about the next section of this way down which is below under “The REALLY difficult bit”. This is the same way everyone has to go as the longer path meets up with this steep way down.
STEEP WAY DOWN in brief. With the tea garden directly behind you and the falls to the left just keep walking straight on. There will be a wooden fence to your left. Keep walking until you come to a dirt path to your left going steeply down the hill. Take this left and once down you will need to head left climbing over the stream.
#2 The really long one but not so steep one
It was at this point we then followed the instructions we’d just been given. This is a pretty long walk down and at times we were wondering if we’d ever get there.
You start the walk in the same way from the tea garden. With the falls to your left, you just keep walking. You will eventually come to a signpost. Here it is right for the car park or left for Little Beck. You keep going on this track down to the Hermitage Cave. Basically you just keep walking in a relatively straight direction from the tea garden until you come to the cave.
It is well worth visiting the Hermitage Cave and the walk to it isn’t too taxing, although like all the paths here it’s not pushchair or wheelchair friendly.
The Hermitage cave is carved out of an enormous boulder. It dates back to the 18th Century and was once the home of a hermit. Although let’s say it was a very small home! There is even a rock on the top of the cave that is shaped like a chair.
It is here that you need to take a new path. There is a path just before the cave that is a sharp bend to the left. It goes down the hill and there’s a few big boulders along the path. You will eventually arrive at the bottom of the hill where there is a footbridge over the water.
Here you turn left. We turned left and then the path just disappeared. Upon consulting with some people the directions then said to be prepared to get your feet wet. We had to then cross the river via stepping stones in the photo below. They were incredibly slippy so we decided to go barefoot the rest of the way.
I am glad we went barefoot the rest of the way as most of the time it was easier to walk and get a grip. At other times it was a bit too slippy and I nearly slid down to the stream a couple of times.
You then pick up a path again on the left side but eventually you will need to cross back to the right hand side. The path above disappeared into mud so that wasn’t an option. We saw the way up and down via the rope but as the slippiest part had no rope at all we were glad we hadn’t attempted it.
But then both ways down come to…….
LONG WAY DOWN in brief – with the tea garden behing you and the foss to your left you just keep walking. There will be a brown fence on your left. Keep going straight following the edge of the cliff. You will then come to a sign, left for Little foss, right for the car park. Go left and keep walking to the Hermitage cave.
Take a sharp left here and walk down. You will eventually come to the bottom there are two bridges to cross near each other. Go left after you’ve crossed the first one. You will then need to cross the stream and follow a slippy path by the waters edge.
The REALLY difficult bit
Now you come to the bit where everyone comes to no matter which way you went down. You still can’t see the waterfall but you can hear it. Ahead of you is no real way across to the path on the other side other than a fallen tree. This might sound easy but it’s not!
After spending an age deciding on the best way we followed a Dad and his small son on a path up to the tree, over it and then through the stream to the other side. I’d packed my phone away by now so there’s no photo but be prepared it’s not easy. We met three other lots of people here. One family turned back but we weren’t to be defeated. It was pretty hard crossing the river earlier but not as hard as this.
Once on the other side the path was still incredibly slippy and difficult to walk along. The river was too deep in places to successfully walk up. We made it though. We paddied for a short while before heading back the way we came. We did briefly debate the slope back up but honestly now we knew the way it didn’t seem quite as hard but let’s put it this way it still wasn’t easy.
Yes, it’s beautiful at the bottom of the waterfall. Was it worth it? Not especially. Yes we have some lovely memories and luckily we didn’t slip badly at any point. But we would have been content in paddling in the water up near the tea garden and just taking a photo from the top.
To our utter amazement there was a family next to the waterfall with chairs and picnic boxes and bags. They’d apprently taken it down the slope!!!!
Whether you go for it it’s up to you. But hopefully my post will help you to make a calculated decision on if it’s for you or not. Had my son’s legs been longer I think we wouldn’t have found it as much of a struggle. Although it wasn’t easy even for an adult.
Why not pin this post for later?