By Vicky · Published Jan. 2nd, 2024
This circular walk from Settle includes Stainforth Force & Catrigg Force waterfalls, several caves and beautiful limestone scenery.
The Settle Caves & Waterfalls Walk starts from the Whitefriars Car Park in the centre of Settle. It’s pay-and-display with free toilets.
Settle Caves & Waterfalls Walking Map
- Limestone can be very slippery when wet, and hide potholes, so keep children under close supervision.
- The map to take for this hike is the Ordnance Survey Map 2 of the Southern & Western Yorkshire Dales*.
- For other hikes nearby, try the short hikes up Beamsley Beacon, Almscliffe Crag, Sharp Haw and Flasby Fell, or Embsay Crag.
- You can find other Yorkshire ideas in our Yorkshire Guide.
Settle Caves & Waterfalls Walking Route
Leave the car park and turn left on the road. At the main road turn right to cross the railway and then take a left on a smaller road at the bend. Walk across the bridge over the River Ribble and turn right on the footpath on the other side.
This footpath leads all the way along the River Ribble, with a short section of road, to Stainforth Force Waterfall.
Stainforth Force Waterfall
The waterfall itself isn’t very high, more like rapids on the river. Once a year, from mid-October to December, salmon can be seen leaping up the waterfall. You’ll only see them if you’re lucky – your best chances are when it rains again after a longer dry period.
Cross over the old stone bridge just above the falls and follow the road into Stainforth village. Turn right in the centre of town and walk along the road for a few hundred metres, then take the path on the left through the fields just before the railway.
Old Hoffman Kilns
You’ll soon reach the Hoffman Kilns, a huge old kiln used for getting the lime out of limestone. The lime was then used to spread on the fields to provide calcium to the animals, or to make mortar for buildings. There are plenty of information boards around the site and several interesting old buildings.
Once you’ve explored the kilns, continue onwards through the fields, parallel to the railway. Next, you’ll reach Pike Lane. Turn left here and continue straight on when the lane becomes a track and starts heading uphill. There are great views from here.
Catrigg Force Waterfall
At the collection of houses, there’s an out-and-back to Catrigg Force Waterfall, 750 metres each way. The waterfall is down in a wooded gully, which can be damp and slippery so take care. When you’ve returned back to the houses, turn left to walk up towards the limestone cliffs. At the small lane, turn right and almost immediately left on the path.
Settle Caves: Jubilee & Victoria Caves
The route now continues beneath a limestone hillside. There are several caves in the cliffs on your left, the first one being Jubilee Cave. You can only go in a short distance, the torch on a phone is enough to look around.
Follow the path that keeps closest to the cliffs and you’ll soon see some more caves on your left. The main one here is Victoria Cave. This is the most famous cave of the series and was discovered in 1837. The Victorians explored the cave with archaeology and discovered many old bones, fossils and Roman artefacts.
Continue onwards and down the slope. At the bottom turn right, walking towards Settle. There are some great limestone cliffs and stonewalls here, but soon you’ll reach a small lane above Settle. Turn left here. This small road leads down into the marketplace at the centre of town. From here, the car park where you started is just to the right. This is the end of the Settle Caves & Waterfalls Walk.
Guidebooks to explore more of Yorkshire
The Rough Guide to Yorkshire* is a great little guidebook and has a section on Ilkley and things to do nearby. The Yorkshire Dales Pathfinder Guide* has a good collection of short hikes suitable for the entire family and the Guide to North Yorkshire Pub Walks* has some fun walks in the Dales for those who are hungry and thirsty.