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Cauldron Snout and Cronkley Scar

Starting point  and OS Grid reference:

Lay-by on the B 6277, just over half a mile NW of Barnard Castle
(NZ 037169).

Ordnance Survey Map

OL31 – North Pennines, Teesdale and Weardale.

Buy this map from
List of OS Maps



Distance: 7.2 miles

Date of Walk: 28 September 2014

Traffic light rating:

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 Click the PDF logo above to give a printable version of this walk without the photos.

Cauldron Snout walk sketch map

To view route as a dynamic Ordnance Survey map click here.

Introduction: Cauldron Snout, set at the heart of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is a “must do” Teesdale walk. It is an impressive waterfall or probably more correctly a cascade, which tumbles down a gorge beneath Cow Green Reservoir. Personally, I think Cauldron Snout is more impressive than High Force, which is better known.

The two mile long Cow Green Reservoir was built in the face of much opposition between 1967 and 1971. Unfortunately, its dam is an incredibly ugly glowering grey mass which overlooks Cauldron Snout. The reservoir is reputedly one of the best places to fish for native brown trout.

The walk also follows an interesting section of the River Tees passing the dramatic cliffs of Cronkley Scar, formed from the igneous Whin Sill rock, prevalent in these parts and which also provides the ledge over which Cauldron Snout tumbles.

The downside of this walk is that to make it circular, there is a two and a quarter mile stretch of road walking. However, the roads are very quiet with lovely views of Teesdale. Also, if you walk the route clockwise as I describe, the road section is slightly downhill and so less of a chore.

Overall, the walk is straightforward with easy to follow paths/tracks. There are two boulder fields you have to cross which are just a little awkward more then anything else. The rocky scramble up the side of Cauldron Snout may deter some but this can be avoided via the heather covered bank alongside, if you prefer.

The walk starts from the free car park at Cow Green Reservoir. To get there, turn south west off the B 6277 at Langdon Beck, which is between Alston and Middleton-in-Teesdale. On a clear day (which unfortunately I did not get) are good views of Cross Fell and nearby hills. Opposite the car park across the reservoir is Meldon Hill 767 metres.

There are no refreshment opportunities en route but plenty of rocks on which to sit, for a picnic.

Start: From the reservoir car park (NY 811308), walk back down the road for one and a half miles to the road junction then turn right. Continue on the road for just short of a mile and just after passing a white painted barn, go over the cattle grid and turn right, following the broad track in the direction of the public footpath fingerpost (not the bridleway) (NY847310). A sign advises that you are entering Moor House - Upper Teesdale Nature Reserve.

Cow Green reservoir

Walking downhill from Cow Green Reservoir

View over Teesdale

Approaching Cronkley Scar

Follow the track for a mile to Widdy Bank Farm (NY 838298).

Widdy Bank Farm

Go straight through the farmyard and go left through the second set of gates.

At the next gate, you join the Pennine Way (NY 837297). Turn right to follow the right hand bank of the river. There are some useful rocks by the river for a picnic stop along here.

River Tees

Cronkley Scar

View back along the river with Cronkley Scar

There is an awkward hundred yard or so  boulder field to be crossed at NY 831285 and another at NY 825281, with a large cairn at NY 824231. Across the river, you can see the boards which mark the army firing range area.

Crossing a boulder field

Cairn at NY 824231

Continue to follow the riverbank as it curves right, passing the junction of the River Tees and Maize Beck and under the cliffs of Falcon Clints. You catch sight of Cauldron Snout quite suddenly and may hear it before you see it.

Bottom of Cauldron Snout

The route continues from the right hand side of the dam. How you get there depends on what route you prefer. There is a scramble up the rocks at the side of the waterfall, or, if you are feeling more risk averse, you can climb up the heather covered bank – you will discern some faint tracks this way, where others have been.

Upper part of Cauldron Snout and Cow Green Reservoir dam

From the right hand side of the dam, go right to follow the service road for a mile to a gate (NY 815307). The main gate is likely to be locked but go through the walkers’ gate alongside then turn left on the stony track. After a couple of hundred yards, fork off to the right on a more minor but obvious track.

At the road, turn left for the car park.

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All information on this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.