Tales of the Tees – High Force


High Force

High Force is the biggest waterfall in England in terms of how much water pours over it. It is 21m high and, although it looks like a sheer cliff, there are two stages to it. 

The top part of the waterfall flows over a famous type of hard rock called the Whin Sill which is made of dolerite. Dolerite is an igneous, volcanic rock and it is hard for water to erode it away.

The lower part of the waterfall is made of carboniferous limestone which is much ‘softer’ and more easily erodes in water. The result is that the waterfall is slowly being eroded from the bottom. Once the bottom starts to get washed away, the top regularly collapses as much as erodes. This means that the waterfall is slowly moving further upstream. This process is not quick though, it takes thousands of years. The result is that the current waterfall is set in a long thin gorge which has been carved out of the rock in this way. The gorge is currently about 700m long.

The waterfall is set in the Raby Estate and a lovely footpath has been created to allow visitors to get really close to the bottom of the falls on the North Bank. The Pennine Way also visits the waterfall along the South Bank.

Other resources

Link to Wikipedia page about High Force

Raby Estates official website with visitor info, history and facts plus contact details for their education team

Facts and legends about High Force

POV visit to High Force

Low Force to High Force pt.1

Low Force to High Force pt.2 (inc local quarry industry footage)

Want to make a model waterfall?

This video gives you the basics which can be adapted to the materials you want to use in class

How did High Force form?

JMW Turner’s sketch of High Force with additional info