The Ribble River is huge today. Yet another day's rain is flowing off the peaks and pouring out of every orifice in the limestone cliffs in Ribblesdale, where you wouln't normally see a waterfall. An example of this is above Foredale Cottages at Helwith Bridge. Look up to the old quarry and you will see a tall chute of water, only flowing in the wettest weather. My friends and I decided to take a look at Catrigg Force or 'Foss'(Old Norse word, like many local place names in the Yorkshire Dales).
Off we set along the Ribble Way out of Settle, along the muddy riverside path, past the old mills, Langcliffe Weir to admire the recent hard work put in by volunteers planting trees at Knight Stainforth Caravan Park for the Ribble River Trust.
The next treat is Stainforth Foss -one to make kayakers think twice about today! This is a popular beauty spot in the summer, where on hot days, youngsters on exam leave can be found swinging out over the deep pools on ropes before plunging in to delight their friends. In October walkers pause for as long as it takes to see the salmon hurling themselves up this waterfall on their way upstream to their breeding ground. Today it is a spectacular sight compared to the last time I was here, paddling with my four-year old with a bucket and fishing net. Then we head through Stainforth village and carefully over the stepping stones by the village green and start the climb up to our goal.
Catrigg Force (Grid Ref: SD 832671) is a fabulous sight, requiring a slight detour from the bridleway leading out of the back of Stainforth. Care must be taken if you want to take a look from the top - it is a sheer drop where the water free falls into a smooth bowl shape, before it pours down the next tier to the bottom and continues down Stainforth Beck into the Ribble below. Estelle is suitably impressed when we descend to the bottom of the wall, where we all enjoy a hot drink and a flapjack before continuing our walk upwards, through Winskills Farm and descending to Langliffe via one of my favourite paths, where you get a really good view of the ancient field systems - 'lynchets' and 'lazybeds'. So where to next? It's still raining... Scaleber Force girls? Janet's Foss? Gordale Scar - now that would be good, woudn't it?